The Best a Man Can Get, John o’Farrell

Lorraine bought me this book and told me she’d bought me it before I told her that I didn’t have time to ‘read’ books any more. And fair enough, I hardly consume paper books any more these days but the fact is that if a book holds my attention for long enough, I’ll find the time. More often that not it’s whilst waiting for software to install, updates, that sort of thing. Yesterday it was uninstalling CS3 and installing CS4, an unbelievably long task.

And so to the book. This book was written just for me. I’m sure of it. John o’ Farrell must have heard how I was feeling and decided to write me a novel. Honestly, that’s how it feels. But I guess that a lot of fathers of my generation would be able to relate to this book. The main character wants what I would imagine most fathers want: the ability to do all the great things that make fatherhood such a joy, and go back to being a single man to avoid all the tough bits of being a dad and enjoy all the fun things that a single man gets to enjoy. Trouble is, as any dad worth his salt will tell you, that is an impossible thing to achieve. It’s all about compromise and learning how to do the best one can for the family, and it has to be all or nothing. The rewards then far outweigh the investment.

I learned a lot from reading this book, especially its conclusion, which is that the most important thing is to be there for the family, to be there with the family, and to be part of the family.

And the title is very clever too. The man interprets it one way and his wife interprets in quite another. Being a man, I hadn’t even considered that there was another way.

So in this book you will follow a 30-something dad who leads a double life, all the while thinking that he’s doing a good thing, until it all blows up in his face and he realises that he was actually being quite deceptive. And the thing is that I totally understood his arguments for thinking it was a good thing and then, of course, his discovery that it wasn’t was also a discovery for me.

I’d like Lorraine to read this book and see what she thinks about it. It would be interesting to get a woman’s perspective on it .

The book had my attention from that first ‘I’ll just read the first page to see what it’s like’ moment and I must have got through it in a couple of weeks. Well, it is only 300 pages, but still, for someone with no time to read, it wasn’t bad going!