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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Care Of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

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.

8 comments:

  1. The Works is the business! I've picked up so many good books in there. You do have to have a regular check in though because you can go for a few weeks with nothing appealing.
    I like the sound of this book. Thanks for sharing.
    Lynn :D

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    1. I think you're right Lynn because I went in again last week and there was nothing that I even picked up to read the blurb!

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  2. Makes me envious I don't have a Works near me! Though we do have Half Price Books stores (resale) and I do love them.

    This sounds like an interesting book with a lot to ponder. It's always so fascinating how two people can become such unlikely friends. I think about this a lot with some of the online relationships I've entered into through blogging and wonder if I would have become friends with those people outside of blogging and why/why not. Or why I haven't connected with personal friends as deeply as I have with blogging ones. I haven't heard of this one but I'll keep my eye out for it.

    Good luck with the shifts. Sounds exhausting. :(

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    1. Oooh, yes, the making of online/blogging friends is an interesting issue - do we make closer friends more easily online because superficial obstacles like appearance, location, age, financial status etc are less apparent? Or do we connect more deeply with blogging friends because it's easier to display the personal image that you want others to see? But that's another debate entirely!

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  3. After initially being caught by the word 'Care' in the title, I now want to read this - sounds fun!

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    1. It is definitely fun, one of the funnest things I've read in a while in fact - it's a slow starter but things start to snowball into one accident after another.

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  4. Ooft what a heavy week of work for you! I love the Works, always in and find it really hard not to buy (if not for me I can always find a book for someone else!). Sounds like an interesting read and how awesome to get a wishlist one for so cheap!

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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  5. I have been browsing this title for some time but your review has sealed the deal - it is going on my wishlist now.

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