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Turning Thirty by Mike Gayle - Book Review


Turning Thirty
Mike Gayle

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Thirty means only going to the pub if there's somewhere to sit down. Thirty means owning at least one classical CD, even if it's Now That's What I Call Classical Vol 6. Thirty means calling off the search for the perfect partner because now, after all these years in the wilderness, you've finally found what you've been looking for.

Unlike most people, Matt Beckford is actually looking forward to turning thirty. After struggling through most of his twenties, he thinks his career, finances and love life are finally sorted but when he splits up with his girlfriend, he realises that life has different plans for him and Matt temporarily moves back home to his parents.

Within hours, his mum and dad are driving him up the wall, just like the old days. Feeling nostalgic and desperate for sanity, Matt decides to get in touch with his old school mates. So one by one, he tracks down the rest of the magnificent seven, Gershwin, Pete, Bev, Katrina, Elliot and Ginny - his former on-off girlfriend. Back together after a decade apart but things will never be the same for any of them because when you're Turning Thirty, nothing's as simple as it used to be.

We Say

Turning Thirty follows Matt Beckford during the months approaching his thirtieth birthday. Following a split with his girlfriend, Elaine, Matt leaves New York and returns to his native Birmingham whilst he readies himself for a long-term move to Australia. The story really concentrates on Matt's time back in Birmingham and it's wonderfully refreshing to read a story based outside London.

Some books bring you up to the laughs gradually. Not this one. The entire opening half of Turning Thirty contains more belly laughs per chapter than any title I can remember. Matt's time back living with his parents are only too realistic and funny and his observations on approaching the big 'three oh' induce a near-permanent state of chuckling.

Inevitably, things slow down midway and Matt meets up with many old school friends and even briefly dates an ex-girlfriend after moving into her spare room. This isn't a throwaway few laughs book - there are plenty of meaty topics to be found, including a friend's affair with a married man, the death of an old friend and of course, the question of how to handle getting just that little bit older. Still, you'll be pleased when the humour-content picks back up in the last few chapters and you'll again find yourself involuntarily heaving with laughter.

Turning Thirty is funny, realistic and intelligent. Definitely Mike Gayle's best work to date and an excellent manual on how to handle your thirtieth birthday.

Review by: Rob Cook

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