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Book Review: To Be Continued by James Robertson

Book Review: To Be Continued by James Robertson

Douglas Findhorn Elder is stuck in traffic on the number 11 bus at the exact moment he turns 50, which stirs up feelings of disappointment and lack of fulfillment. Although he insists he doesn’t want a fuss, he still can’t shake the feeling that something is missing from his life.

After being made redundant from his job at the Spear newspaper in Edinburgh, he lacks purpose. The loss of his job, his father’s deteriorating health and the failure of a long-term relationship has left him with no direction in life. He decides to write a novel to give himself a meaningful project, but he can’t decide what to write about. After an unremarkable 50th birthday, he spends the evening drinking alone on his porch, talking to his inner voice – which just so happens to manifest itself as a talking toad called Mungo.

Things turn around for Douglas when his old editor gives him some freelance work, which includes interviewing a 100-year-old woman called Rosalind Munlochy and finding out how she voted in the Scottish independence referendum. She’s had a colourful life as an MP with radical political views and lives in the inaccessible Highlands. Douglas is more than happy to embark on this life-changing adventure with his companion Mungo.

The journey in To Be Continued takes Douglas and Mungo to some strange places and they come across plenty of very eccentric people. They end up in some odd destinations, including a pub in the middle of nowhere and a deserted hotel. Douglas’ journey is eerie, confusing and surreal, but at the same time it’s funny and touching.

This is just the adventure Douglas needs; it forces him to come to terms with the state of his personal life and he realises what he wants from life. Being so far away from his normal life allows him to get to grips with reality despite the fact that everything about the journey seems so unreal. James Robertson certainly has an unusual way of telling stories, but this makes it all the more effective.

★★★

To Be Continued was published by Hamish Hamilton on 4 August 2016. 

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