It all starts with a girl… (because yes, there’s always a girl…)
Jason Priestley (not that one) has just seen her. They shared an incredible, brief, fleeting moment of deep possibility, somewhere halfway down Charlotte Street.
And then, just like that, she was gone – accidentally leaving him holding her old-fashioned, disposable camera, chock full of undeveloped photos…
And now Jason – ex-teacher, ex-boyfriend, part-time writer and reluctant hero – faces a dilemma. Should he try and track The Girl down? What if she’s The One? But that would mean using the only clues he has, which lie untouched in this tatty disposable…
It’s funny how things can develop…
Having read Danny Wallace’s non-fiction escapades, such as Join Me and Yes Man, I was looking forward to his debut novel, and Charlotte Street did not let me down. This daft and charming story kept me company on a weekend full of long train journeys, and did an admirable job.
Jason Priestley is a bit of a loser, but a nice enough one. His ex has moved on, he’s quit his job as a teacher and is just drifting along, not really coping very well with being left behind by the love of his life, and then… on Charlotte Street he bumps into a stranger, holds her bags for her, and just like that she’s gone – leaving him holding her disposable camera.
Jason is a romantic soul and wonders if she is The One. Was this fate? And if so should he develop the camera and use the clues to track her down? Where is the line between romance and stalking?
Although the answer to some of these questions is possibly a little predictable, there are plenty of episodes along the way that make this a hugely entertaining read, including making friends with an ex-pupil, and giving a formulaic restaurant the world’s best write-up. There are lots of sweet, funny, and also sad moments along the way to keep you gripped.
This is definitely an ‘easy read’ much like Wallace’s other material, but that is not to say it lacks depth. There is a real under-current of emotion running throughout this story, which is not only about an unconventional romance, but also about friendship new and old, and finding your path in life.
Any readers of Danny Wallace’s other books or Shortlist column will undoubtedly recognise his voice in this story, and although as far as I know this isn’t auto-biographical, I certainly recognised elements of story-telling and characters I’ve seen along the way in his other writing.
If you are a fan of Danny Wallace I can highly recommend this as a strong start to a fiction writing career. If you’ve never come across him before, this is as good a place as any to start!