Joe Faber’s a funny guy, good with his hands, and great with words – until the stroke which leaves him severely disabled. But this is more than his story. There’s Fran, Joe’s wife, who draws up her manifesto and decides to act like an optimist; she hasn’t planned to be a carer. Their talented daughter Jess, who turns her trouble into music. While Jess’s fiancé Matt, the management trainer, innocent, positive and daft, will do his best to keep them all on target.
Art School training made Joe a close observer of the world, but once he leaves the hospital, how does the world see him? And care is erratic. So will Fran have to give up the job she loves? Can Matt’s energetic but insensitive sister be trusted to organise the wedding? There’s heartbreak and absurdity along the way, but humour is the family’s greatest asset in the drive to get Joe back on his own two feet. You’ll hear some wonderful fiddle music and visit some magical Shetland places. Besides being fiercely honest about a tough subject, which the author has seen at first hand, Gill Oliver’s second novel is marked by a zest for life and will surprise you right to the end.
‘I don’t know what she sees in him. And neither does she.’ ‘Well, there you are, then. That proves it’s serious.’
Joe looked up from the workbench and grinned at his wife, who shrugged.
Fran was just being provocative. He was more concerned right now with his current commission, the model of ancient Athens, which had reached a critical stage. He took a sable brush to the flat of the acropolis, where flakes of polystyrene snow had become electrically bonded to the bedrock.
‘Seriously…What’ve Matt and Jess got in common?’ ‘They trust each other,’ said Joe.
Fran snorted. ‘How can you trust a man who turns up for a week in the mountains with a pair of white trainers and a phone?’
‘Proves he’s open to new experiences.’ ‘You sound just like him,’ she said.
Bit by bit, the polystyrene was deposited onto a microfibre cloth, where it stuck. Joe folded the cloth loosely and turned to place it out of harm’s way. Then he pushed the stool on its castors back, stood up and uncurled his spine.
This was his most ambitious piece to date. Waiting on the side table, his Parthenon wasn’t much bigger than a shoe-box,
Thank you, Gill Oliver and Love Books Group
About the Author
I grew up in Liverpool and yes, at heart I’m the stereotype – a warm-blooded enthusiast who likes nothing better than swinging between a good laugh and a good cry, and to whom silence is alien. People are endlessly interesting, and there’s so much about the world that I just need you to know! I studied languages as a route to reading even more books (including some really wacky stuff) and found a career in education. Joe Faber and the Optimists is my second novel, prompted by the experience of my husband’s stroke, and serious comedy is the furrow I’m still ploughing now. I’m a keen singer, and my work in progress – Amateurs – is about what happens when a slightly precious young composer collides with an amateur choir.