Book review: The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim

The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim- Jonathan Coe
I'm going to admit it- I only chose this book from The Mirror Book Club because I liked the cover and I thought it looked like the sort of thing I'd enjoy. Turns out, I was right. It's one of those books that involves the lead character going on a surprising journey, encountering odd events and strange characters, and ultimately discovering themselves.

In this case, it tells the tale of Maxwell Sim, a 48 year old salesman going through a midlife crisis after separating from his wife, who moves away with their daughter. He takes up a job as a toothbrush salesman, driving to the Shetland Islands as part of a PR project. As he travels, the isolation of travelling alone for long periods of time affects him and he starts to lose sense of himself and his mind.
What was interesting about this book is that it starts with the ending. In writing this review, I've discovered that this technique is called in medias res, which I love the sound of! The opening chapter is a newspaper article reporting the discovery of a half-naked man found in a car in Scotland, with two empty bottles of whiskey and boxes of toothbrushes in the boot. This approach was great for piquing my curiosity and propelling me forward in discovering how this event occurred.

I enjoyed the tone of the book. It's told from Maxwell's perspective, and he has an interesting view on life. He doesn't quite see the world in the way that other people might, which is perhaps what makes him predisposed to his spiralling loss of reality. There are aspects of both humour and tragedy, and the overall impression is of a rather naive man who is unsure of the world around him.
As part of Maxwell's journey, we discover the history of Maxwell's father and his friend, Roger. I found this to be the most interesting part of the book and was sad when it ended. I almost felt as though the real story involved Maxwell's dad and Roger, and it seemed like a missed opportunity. 

Although the book was enjoyable, it was quite a generic light read. There was nothing particularly special about it, but still entertaining enough to keep me happy. 

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