The Good Guy
By Susan Beale
Published by John Murray
Available in Hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming
Susan Beale's debut novel, The Good Guy, is one of those books that you can't put down once you start. The characters are compelling, the time period is interesting, the style of writing lures you into the plot and makes you care about the characters, EVERYTHING is great.
I'm getting carried away. Lets start at the beginning...
This is the story of love, marriage and self deception in suburban New England in the 1960s. Ted is a car-tyre salesman who takes a promotion and gets alot of admiration from his colleagues, success is an addiction and he wants to be the best. His wife, Abigail, is at home with their baby but she craves being at college, learning and earning a wage. Beale creates these two characters, and alternates between their viewpoints, showing their frustrations with the life they are expected to live against the life that they both crave.
After a business dinner, Ted meets Penny, falling in love with her and her carefree attitude to life. He creates himself a more successful past, creating a new life when he is with Penny. The deception and tension builds as Ted falls deeper into their alternative life he is building. His good intentions and self-deception build, pushing all three characters to the extreme.
The Good Guy is a combination of Mad Med and Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road where society is changing and evolving and the characters are caught between the older and newer generation. This push and pull not only forms relationships, bringing people together in this interesting time period but also ripping apart families when people start forming regrets and resentment.
Beale explores the pressure to conform to social convention where Ted and Abigail are caught in the middle of the change. People are shunning the way of life led by their parents, wanting to break away. The prosperity of the post-WWII is changing society with new freedoms but gender roles remain clear and there are strict morals at the core. Society's expectations have yet to catch up with these new freedoms and each generation is trying to find their way. The Good Guy doesn't just tell the coming of age story of Abigail and Ted but also of a new America, on the cusp of change.
Fans of Mad Men, Revolutionary Road and Raymond Carver will love this book. This book is fantastic, either read it now or buy it in paperback as this really is a book you don't want to miss. You can buy a copy of The Good Guy from your favourite bookshop.
The publisher kindly sent me a copy.