Review by Ben Macnair
Publisher: Istros Books June 2017
ISBN: 9780720619492 PB
Although it starts with a gathering of lively friendship and interesting conversation, Samuel’s life is not the most fun. He has a job that pays the bills, but doesn’t hold his attention. He has acquaintances rather than friends, and suffers from the modern affliction of malaise and apathy.
One day, out of the blue he receives a phone call, telling him that Clara has died, in a car accident, swerving to avoid a pedestrian. He doesn’t know any Clara, has no recollection of her, no ex-girlfriend, no former friends or work acquaintances, but he has been addressed by name, so he attends the funeral.
When at the funeral he knows no one, the guests gathering do not approach him, and then he is physically attacked by Clara’s husband. Samuel realises that he has been mistaken for the man that Clara was seeing outside of her marriage.
The mix up is because Samuel lives in the same block of flats as another Samuel. A married man, who as Samuel discovers wallows in self-pity, drinks to distraction and has little in the way of people skills.
Digging into finding out about the life that the real Samuel led with Clara, he finds his own identity changing, and as a real-life involvement with Clara’s sister becomes more and more apparent, does Samuel reveal his true identity.
The novel is a fine read, a close look at what makes people tick, and how we can so often subsume our own identities into work, or the pre-conceived tracks of our lives, and how taking a break from it, walking in someone else’s shoes, can help to break the patterns.