I Saw A Man by Owen Sheers. Reviewed by Maxine as part of Bury Reader’s Group ‘Secret Santa’ book exchange.
After the sudden loss of his wife, Michael Turner moves to London and quickly develops a close friendship with the Nelson family next door. Josh, Samantha and their two young daughters seem to represent everything Michael fears he may now never have: intimacy, children, stability and a family home. Despite this, the new friendship at first seems to offer the prospect of healing, but then a catastrophic event changes everything.
I found this book’s build-up to the truth about its central, life changing event far too slow, making it for me anything but the page-turner promised by the quotes on the cover. The themes of grief, guilt and friendship are universal but never came to life, there was nothing to make me care in any way for the protagonists. The investment banker and his perfect family, the author mourning his war correspondent wife, not to mention the wife herself, let alone the soldier who fired the missile which killed her, all seemed more archetype than human. Far too much time is spent spelling out the back stories of everyone involved, not to mention some who have no place in the story. My overall impression is of a decent short story or novella padded out to book length with whatever could be shoe-horned in, including one of the least erotic sex scenes I have ever encountered.
Do you agree with our reader’s observations? You can always add your impressions of the book using the comments box below. We would love to hear from you.