Saturday, 4 August 2012

Book Review - Surprised by Roy

An odd little book in many ways. Claudia Coleman Lewis recounts how, throughout her childhood, she kept catching glimpses of "Roy".

Especially at Christmas, or when on seaside holiday, she is convinced that Roy is near. To Claudia, "Roy" becomes the epitome of elusive hope - a relationship that should be good and yet is constantly fleeting.

Then one day in her early twenties, Claudia comes home from Uni for the Summer Vac to find Roy sitting on her mum's couch. It turns out that the elusive "Roy" is in fact her father. He and Claudia's mother are not divorced or separated - which explains why her mother never spoke of any such event.  It's just that Roy is a middle-manager for a catering supplies company, and has spent the last twenty-five years working stupidly long hours at the office - sneaking into the house late at night, grabbing a few hours' sleep. His fleeting appearances at Christmas are explained - he had the day off, but could never stay off the work computer or, in latter days, the Crackberry.

Now Roy is redundant, and stunned to discover that his little girl is a grown woman with hopes of going on to a D Phil in Molecular Biophysics. He'd always told himself he was doing it all for Claudia and her mum. And now he realises how wrong he was. But it's too late - time has flown and the long hours of time-wasting together - walks and games, just watching telly or eating - will never be recovered.

As I say, it's an odd book. And it's not a very happy one. Roy always thought that it was his work that needed him. And all along it was someone else.

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