Reviewed by Victoria Sutton
Turning Forty is the hotly-anticipated sequel to Mike Gayle’s Turning Thirty. Unfortunately I haven’t read Turning Thirty to be able to tell you if this sequel lives up to the hotness of the anticipation. But, what I can say is that not having read the first book didn’t matter. Turning Forty stood up perfectly well on it’s own. I have read some of Mike’s earlier books such as My Legendary Girlfriend and Mr Commitment and I remember what I loved about these was seeing things from a man’s perspective. Of course, I was younger and less worldly wise at the time so I was interested to see if I would still find it as enthralling to read about relationships from a male point of view…
Matt Beckford is fast approaching forty but he isn’t too worried given that he has a high flying career, a beautiful wife, a fast car and erm… a shed. But when crippling panic attacks cause him to call time on his career he finds his finances dwindling and his marriage failing. As a temporary solution he decides to move back to his parent’s home in Birmingham while he sorts himself out. And he has a plan…
I knew that I was going to be able to sympathise with Matt the moment he spoke of ‘the shed’. My husband and I are at the age whilst not yet actually nearer forty we are the wrong side of thirty-five, and for the longest time my husband has wanted… a shed. At first it made me laugh out loud before I wondered if I should actually be getting concerned about this?! But then, I have to admit that I want a shed too so who knows what that means!
Matt is an engaging central character that I really felt for. A series of unfortunate events have led to him being completely downtrodden as he approaches his landmark birthday and I desperately wanted things to work out for him. Ginny and Gershwin are the old school friends he initially gravitates towards on his return home. I loved the mystery element surrounding these characters and although I guessed quite soon what this was about it was still interesting to see how they would deal with it.
I enjoyed the comedy provided by Matt’s parents, in particular a scene when his worried mum sets him up on a ‘play date’! In actual fact though it is his parent’s actions that drive many of the decisions Matt makes to enable him to get his life back on track, as well as his friendship with old idol Gerry.
I found that Turning Forty was an absorbing and fast-paced read which mostly made me laugh and on occasion made me cry. Even though I don’t have the desperation to see into a man’s mind the way I did in my early twenties I still enjoyed reading about relationships from the male view point. I’m slightly disappointed in myself that I hadn’t read Turning Thirty first but now I definitely want to seek it out. And I’m handing this over to my husband as I type… I know as soon as he sees the word ‘shed’ he’ll be hooked!