John O'Farrell - The Man Who Forgot His Wife (3 stars)

Mildly diverting rom-com novel from the Spitting Image writer

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John O'Farrell - The Man Who Forgot His Wife

(Doubleday)

What would we make of our partners if our memories were wiped and we spied them anew? This question loiters, doe-eyed, at the heart of John O’Farrell’s retrograde amnesia rom-com, The Man Who Forgot His Wife. It’s a light-hearted modern-day parable whose principle, familiar touchstones are bricks and mortar, gender stereotypes, family units (and the breakdown thereof) and social media existentialism (and the clichés therein: ‘I Facebook therefore I am’).

This London-set novel’s central characters are rounded and likeable, but over-conventional: there’s the amnesiac husband who took his relationship, vocation and Victorian home for granted; the once-wild girlfriend who became his world-weary (and near ex) wife; the impeccable offspring; the wisecracking best mate.

O’Farrell’s TV satire credentials include Have I Got News for You, Grumpy Old Men and Spitting Image, and he’s also a best-selling author. But his comic-lit knack is not best evinced here. The book’s second-chance scenario is mildly diverting but its observations, witticisms and matrimonial platitudes have decidedly mixed results.

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