What’s that line Sean Connery has to Jill St John in Diamonds Are Forever? “That’s a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing”. Well that’s how I feel about this book, which was another on a whim Kindle daily deal purchase. It was a nice little nothing I’ve already almost forgotten.
That’s not to say it’s bad, far from it. It centres on two lost souls. Carol is trapped in a marriage to a man she suspects she has never loved, with a teenage daughter she is at a loss to connect with. Albert is a widowed postman a couple of weeks from retirement. When a friend suggest to Carol she gets all her grief and guilt out by writing letters to the universe, and Albert is tasked with clearing out the Dead Letter Office before retiring, well, you can imagine how it’s going to go, can’t you?
The author has a light and breezy tone, not to mention a strong line in comic delivery. Describing the wife of Albert’s unpleasant neighbour, Winter writes “Max’s wife is rather like Kim Jong-il, in the sense that she’s almost never seen in public, and when she is, it’s always with a sickly demeanour and a bad perm”. Unfortunately, this starts to work against the novel, since most of the characters also make quips like this and occasionally, if it’s not noted, it can be difficult to work out who is actually speaking.
For being such a light and flimsy little read, Winter does occasionally delve into the darker side of things. Carol’s husband is diagnosed with testicular cancer, for example. It’s a shame that he lacks the courage of his convictions and can’t resist the urge to write a coda that ties up everything in a neat little bow. He may as well have written “and they all lived happily ever after, the end”. A qualified success, then.