Television producer Harry has a beautiful, loving wife Gina who has given up a great deal to be with him and raise their son, Pat. Approaching his 30th birthday, the stupid idiot has a one night stand with a colleague. Gina finds out and packs off immediately with 4-year-old Pat.

From there it all gets a bit strange.

Gina has been feeling “a bit down” about giving up her career for a family and this is, apparently, her motivation for dumping Pat on her aging wannabe rock-star idiot father and flying off to Japan without telling Harry about it. He rescues the boy and (once Gina has returned from her brief visit to Japan and arranged for Harry to take care of Pat for a little while, so she can sort out a new job in Tokyo) he then sets about learning to be a single parent, all the while making clear that he is the victim in this situation.

We learn how hard it is to be a single father. Much harder than being a single mother, because single mothers can band together but nobody is nice to single dads. And mums know how to cook, too, which men find difficult. Especially when they’ve always previously left the menial stuff like that to the brilliant and beautiful wives they tricked into marrying them.

When Pat starts school, Harry learns, in particular, to despise in equal measure both of the parents, who he has never met, of his son’s new best friend. Peggy has a single mother and Harry loathes the unknown father for abandoning her, and has equal contempt for the mother who is never there to pick up her daughter and sends instead a babysitter. He of course is able to get a part-time job in television that pays well enough for him to keep his flashy sportscar, pay the mortgage and still be there in time to pick up the boy.

Gina returns from Japan with a fiance and comes to get Pat. But now, after four years of practically ignoring the boy and leaving it all to her, Harry has realised that he likes being a father and won’t let Gina take their son. Custody battles ensue. Eventually, after his Dad dies of cancer and his Mum tells him “Love means knowing when to let go” Harry realises that it is in Pat’s best interests to stop squabbling over him and let him be with his mother. He makes this heroic sacrifice, realising for the first time that he has been putting his own preferences at the front of everything and that the decent thing is to stop. He wants a cookie for this, I think.

So. meanwhile Harry has met a waitress called Cyd (after Cyd Charisse) and fallen in love with her. When he finds out that by some implausible coincidence she is in fact the much-despised single mother of Peggy, he does not seem at all put out – no more is said of his former contempt. However, Cyd realises that he is the kind of man who will get bored when the romance dies. Wisely, she turns him down. Then, when he makes a corny speech at a wedding (“if you find someone to love, then you should never let them slip away“) she changes her mind. She had him all wrong, and they really will live happily ever after.

Yay.

Now I’ve told you the plot, you won’t need to read it. Certainly you will gain no great insight from the one- and two- dimensional characters. The most we get to know about Pat’s soul, for example, is that his obsession with Star Wars belies a sweet and gentle nature.

This book has everything you need for a trite Hollywood film adaptation. Even the cheesy dashing-to-the-airport-in-hopeless-quest-to-stop-departing-loved-one ending. The thing is replete with cliches, stereotypes and implausible plot development. Even the scenes of Harry’s dad (the macho ex-soldier, with a compassionate nature, an overwhelming soft spot for his grandson, and no other complexities whatever) in hospital dying of cancer left me unmoved.

In short: don’t bother.

Here’s a link to Amazon.
I didn’t waste good money on my copy – I got it at the library.

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