AUGUST READING: THE MAN WHO FORGOT HIS WIFE by John O'Farrell
Well, I bet there are plenty of women out there currently thinking they get forgotten about all the time by their beloveds, so what is the big deal about some bloke writing a book about it? I bet you haven't been forgotten about quite like Jack Vaughan forgets about his wife Maddy! You will either appreciate that much more your beloved and his minor memory relapses, or you may well wish that he follows the same path as the said man in this funny, charming, slightly ridiculous and very satisfying story.
Jack Vaughan, or Vaughan as he known by is 39 years old, lives in London, is a high school history teacher, married to Maddy, father to two children. One day, while riding the Underground, he suddenly realises that he has no idea who he is, where he is, what he is doing or where he is going. His whole life has been erased, everything, including his family, how to ride a bike, how to swim, his job. The lot. So begins what could loosely be termed a comedy of errors as Vaughan begins the long process of two steps forward, one step backward, regaining himself and his life.
Ever so very slowly Vaughan's memory begins to return. The fragments are tiny and quite random in how they turn up. His first step in finding out who he is occurs while lying in his hospital bed next to the irrepressible Bernard. Bernard has the very bright idea of buying a Name Your Baby book and reading out every single name in the hope it will jog something in Vaughan's memory. Which the name Gary does. Just think how many names Bernard had already read out to get to G...This immediately prompts Vaughan to start reciting a phone number belongs to Vaughan's best friend.
Vaughan finds out quite quickly that he is in the middle of an acrimonious divorce from his wife Maddy. He simply can't figure out why he has found himself in this situation, as the first time he sees her once he knows who he is, he falls madly in love with her. The focus of the book is his mission to win her back.
Like the lives of most of us, Vaughan's life is very ordinary, which is what makes this book so very appealing to read and to enjoy. Could something like this possibly happen to any one of us? And how would we handle it? During the course of the story Vaughan's memories slowly return which enables him, and the reader, to go back to the his and Maddy's first meeting, their courtship, and exactly where things went wrong in the marriage. It is wonderfully romantic and poignant, and probably a reminder to us all that it can be easy to forget how things once were, and hard to dig deep to find those memories again.
The author is a very prolific English writer, who has worked on television and radio political satire and comedy programmes including Spitting Image, broadcasting, an aspiring politician as well as successful novelist and non-fiction writer. His skills as a writer with a wry wit are on full display in this book, as in turn we feel sorry for him, then frustration, then what a lovable buffoon he is. He tries so very very hard, it is so endearing. Yes, it is a light and trite story, but also very satisfying, and you will close it with a contented sigh, and think, gee, that was such a pleasant piece of escapism.