Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front this week as I've been going through a tough bit of the rota at work - a 64-hour week immediately followed by a 54-hour week doesn't leave much time for reading, never mind blogging! But I have managed to finish one book that I really want to share.
For ages now I've heard avid readers and bloggers gush about the bargains they've picked up at The Works and have been left slightly puzzled. To be honest, when I have snatched quick glances at the window display in the past it has always struck me as somewhere one step up from a pound shop, full of cheap diaries and stocking fillers for kids and not much else. But a few weeks ago I sought shelter from the rain in one of their branches and was delighted to find several books from my wishlist including a lovely hardback copy of Will Wiles' debut novel for a mere £3. I am definitely a convert to shopping at The Works!
In Care Of Wooden Floors we follow an unnamed protagonist as he leaves his home in London to be a flat-sitter for an old university friend somewhere in Eastern Europe. His friend, the fastidious Oskar, has had to go to the USA to sort out his divorce, so he has asked our narrator to keep an eye on his beautiful home and look after his two cats. Initially it seems like it's going to be a breeze - with no work obligations to distract him, he can spend lazy days doing a bit of sightseeing before coming home to relax with a bottle of red wine and working on his novel. However soon he begins to realise it's going to be a more stressful job than he first thought. I had so much fun reading this book and it made me laugh out loud on a couple of occasions. It's a sort of comedy of errors, a succession of increasingly ridiculous accidents and mishaps that have you groaning along with the protagonist every step of the way.
I loved the way this book made me think about how we choose our friends, and how people with fundamentally clashing personalities can be very close. It is one thing to see a person socially on a regular basis but another thing entirely to be let into their home and take responsibility for their sanctuary. Oskar is a constant presence in the book despite the fact that he is
halfway across the world and there is something overbearing and
irritatingly smug about his personality. Nevertheless, at times I found
myself relating to him more than the protagonist. I can be quite a messy person but at the same time a bit of a control freak (it's an 'organised mess') and I struggle to think of many friends who I'd be happy to let take control of my space, even for such a limited time!
It also made me think a lot about how the simplest scenario can take a disastrous turn when red wine is involved. Ohhh, red wine...
The whole thing is very well written and it's remarkable how Wiles keeps things interesting considering the fact that maybe two thirds of the story takes place within the apartment itself, and also that there are very few characters (the protagonist, the absent Oskar, his friend Michael and a cleaning lady who doesn't even speak any English).
I was in The Works again today - and remarkably managed to refrain from spending any money, might I add - and this is still in there for a bargain price. It is the best £3 I have spent in a while. I'd definitely recommend it.