The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley
Length: 308 pages
Recommended reader age: Adult
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (1 Feb. 2020)
Genre: Romance fiction
About the author:
Jane Riley is a New Zealand author who lives in Sydney with her husband. The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock is her first novel, having begun her career in public relations before moving into publishing and later an online e-commerce business.
She has also freelanced as a writer, editor and wrote a design blog interviewing makers and creators.
In her free time she also volunteers as an English language tutor for the Adult Migrant English Program in Sydney.
You can find her on Twitter @JaneRileyAuth
Or more details on her website.
Oliver Clock: A funeral director approaching his 40’s with a deep love for Marie, but lacking the courage to tell her.
Doreen Clock: Oliver’s mum, over 70 but still works part time in the funeral home.
Jean: Receptionist and all-round lover of cake and brooches.
Marie: Fantastic florist to the funeral home and object of Oliver’s affections.
Plot summary, spoiler free I promise:
The story begins with an introduction to Oliver, his endless lists of resolutions that he never follows through with, and a glimpse into his strictly ordered and overly tidy life.
We then meander through his thoughts, flashbacks and a present day to give us a solid foundation of who Oliver is, and also to introduce the other characters, mainly Marie. And just when he seems to have finally summoned the courage to ask her out, tragedy strikes and Marie is removed from his life.
Alongside his grief and the slow collapsing of the funeral home, we follow Oliver as he resolves to get more involved in life, and open himself up to love again. All of this set to the countdown to his 40th birthday.
I am going to start by saying romance novels and me are not things that normally go together so bear this in mind as you read my review!
I really enjoyed the start of this book, I thought that Oliver and all his quirks and eccentricities were captured brilliantly and I really wanted to read on and find out more. There were so many intriguing aspects to his character like why is he so obsessive with cleaning and organisation? Why has he not asked Marie out, or anyone else for that matter? Why is cake mentioned so frequently and I wonder if the shop is still open for me to get some?
The author also manages to brilliantly capture the stages of grief and the difficulties, and ultimate loneliness, of being single when your friends are married and having kids. My heart broke for Oliver in multiple places throughout the book, but instead of me wishing for him to find someone in the future, I mostly wanted to go back in time and slap him until he asked Marie out way back when they first met.
I also enjoyed the setting of a funeral home, it is something many of us don’t think about until we need to, and then it is understandably with little enthusiasm. I loved how the author bought humanity, love and compassion to this side of the book, and how by the end I had lost my squeamishness about the whole subject. I only hope that when I need to use similar services I am met with the same level of love and kindness.
I did find however that by about halfway through I was utterly fed up of Oliver, his moaning and inability to change things. I felt a little like the story was stuck in a loop, probably much how Oliver himself was, and I lost enthusiasm. While it was probably an excellent reflection on real life, I wished that the other characters had supported him a bit more and been more pro-active in his life. I felt like everyone was sort of drifting in their own little world and never actively aimed for anything. I also repeatedly felt guilty about how little I clean things, and spent a good amount of time staring at the very visible dust on the TV stand, wondering what on earth Oliver would think of me.
The ending redeemed this book for me a little and I did enjoy watching Oliver change and grow (slightly) when he finally found some courage to step out of his comfort zone. I also found the other characters became more defined towards the end, not just a name and a job, which helped me warm back up to the story. Ultimately it is a book I am glad I read, and one I would recommend to someone I think would enjoy it, but for my taste it was slow and ultimately boring read for most of the book.
Recommended for someone who likes easy to read books with no major plot twists and a side of romance.
“You see, if I had to break down my life as if it were a sentence, so much of my world existed at the full-stop end of life. Or more precisely, the space after the full stop. And I was happy with that.”