Eleven by Mark Watson
|Eleven by Mark Watson|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: A London night-time DJ called Xavier is terrific at dispensing good advice to his callers. But when a momentous event happens to him - can he follow his own advice?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
The book's title has been well thought out. Xavier Ireland, the main character has the number Eleven if you take his initials as Roman numbers (XI) and there are eleven individuals who are involved in this chain reaction of events. When I read the blurb on the back cover, what caught my eye above all else was the line whether the choices we don't make affect us just as powerfully as those we do. And of course, when we take no action about something in our lives, it's a form of action in effect.
We meet Xavier cocooned in the safety of the radio station. Hermetically sealed, you could say. Sealed away from the problems of the world. We also meet his bit-of-a-geek colleague and sometime co-presenter Murray. I loved the shambling Murray, I have to say. Xavier appears fascinated by the callers who are awake when most normal souls are asleep. But apart from the obvious: shift workers, insomniacs etc there are also regulars who phone in. Those people with problems they don't mind airing to the rest of London. Those people who would rather rabbit on to a complete stranger, than try and tackle the problem themselves. I got the feeling that at times, Xavier feels just a little smug. But as the story develops, the reader learns that Xavier could probably do with heeding some of his own advice. Having said all that, I took to Xavier straight away. He's normal. But then again - what's normal? He's got his own flat, a regular job which pays the bills and he's working at a better social life - oh, and his love life could be better, much better. A girlfriend would be a big plus. But, hey, one thing at a time. It could be worse. He could be Murray.
Xavier has had an interesting past. He used to live a nice life in Australia. But something big happened and now he's living a new life with a new name in a new country as he gets to grips with bustling, crowded London. Watson wants us to be aware of Xavier's unconnected-ness with the other residents in the block. So we're told quite a lot about his neighbours. The harassed single mother with a hyper toddler and the strange noises from a career woman's flat on another floor. Xavier shuts his eyes and covers his ears ... for now ... He seems to have adopted the motto of - to hell with everyone else. Until Pippa, that is.
I think that this fresh, modern work of fiction is a book that many of us can relate to. When there's someone in our lives or someone we come across for a split second who could obviously do with a helping hand - and we don't give it, for whatever reason. We perhaps brush them off. We're far too busy. But it niggles us later on. Should we have helped? Too late now. Xavier doesn't and rues the day.
There are plenty of heart-warming and also funny moments too. The part all about speed-dating is a joy to read. Watson has got it bang on. Brilliant stuff. Xavier's conversations with his newly-acquired cleaner are also terrific to read. A light-hearted, modern book but with a few darker moments. Recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals try Just Business by Geraint Anderson.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eleven by Mark Watson at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eleven by Mark Watson at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.