22 May 2009

Double Book Review: The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook by Matt Dunn

Matt Dunn - The Ex-Boyfriend's HandbookEdward is shocked to come home from work one day to find his girlfriend of ten years, Jane, has done a runner, taking everything of hers from their flat in the process. She's left Edward a note saying it's his fault, and that she'll be back in 3 months but he has to change.

Edward's not really aware of his faults until best friend and TV Antiques Show presenter Dan Davis is more than willing to show Edward exactly where he is going wrong. So, Edward sets out to fix everything that's wrong with him in order to win Jane back, with more than a little help from Dan along the way.

But is it just Edward's image that is going to change?

It was almost immediately that I realised this was going to be a book I was thoroughly going to enjoy reading, because the first couple of pages had me laughing out loud! Dunn doesn't hold back at all and starts the humour right from the very first page, immediately drawing his readers in and getting them engaged not only with the story, but with poor pitiful Edward as well. You can't help but feel sorry for the guy who has been dumped by a letter, as well as having his flat stripped of almost everything, yet Dunn writes in such a way that it isn't a sob story, rather one that makes you giggle along, feeling slightly guilty that you're doing so! I was sure that this was going to be a great book, and I was right.

As the book goes along, Edward goes on a journey off self-discovery, being told by his best friend Dan what exactly is putting Jane off, from his teeth, to his weight, even to his poor clapped out old Volvo. During the course of the book, Edward sets about changing all of these things, often with hilarious consequences, that is if he can actually get up the guts to go through with these things. Dunn manages to find something humourous to write about for each thing Edward has to change, and probably the funniest of all has to be Edward's sessions with personal trainer Sam. I was literally laughing so hard at points, I had to stop and take a breather from the book because my eyes were streaming - pure brilliance and so, so funny to read!

Dan is clearly the character you are meant to hate, he is such a smug smarmy git that you just want to wipe the smile off his face to be honest. He's convinced he is God's gift to women and therefore is in a position to advise Edward on his lifestyle changes. Sometimes the way Dan spoke to Edward made me wonder if they would be friends in real life, but this is the beauty of a novel - unlikely characters being best mates, hence plenty of cringing yet hilarious dialogue between the pair. I couldn't help but laugh at the nightclub scenes where Dan and Edward decide to pick up women, and also when the pair go to a car showroom - I defy you not to laugh!

But what really makes this book work is just that Edward is so loveable bless him, and you just want everything to work out for him in the end! I got halfway through the novel when I decided for myself how I wanted things to go at the end, and Dunn didn't leave me disappointed. Edward's journey is incredibly funny and the laughs don't stop from the minute you pick the book up until the second you put it down, so for that reason alone I would recommend you read this! It's a light-hearted book not to be taken too seriously, with an easy to read writing style, and because of the first person narrative of Edward, you get right into the nitty-gritty of the friendship of Edward and Dan, as well as those infamous training sessions with Sam! It was a joy to read.

Rating: 5/5

For a review of the book's sequel, Ex-Girlfriends United, click here

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