Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Case of the Missing Boyfriend - Nick Alexander

Case of the Missing BoyfriendCase of the Missing Boyfriend by Nick Alexander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'Thirty-nine year old CC is living the urban dream: a high-powered job in advertising, a beautiful flat, and a wild bunch of gay friends to spend the weekends with. And yet she feels like the Titanic - slowly, inexorably, and against all expectation, sinking.

The truth is, CC would rather be digging turnips on a remote farm than convincing the masses to buy a life-changing pair of double-zippered jeans - rather be snuggling at home with the Missing Boyfriend than playing star fag-hag in London's latest coke-spots. But sightings of men without weird fetishes or secret wives are rarer than an original metaphor, and CC fears that pursuing the Good Life alone will just leave her feeling even more isolated.

Could her best friend's pop-psychology be right? Are the horrors of CC's past preventing her from moving on? And if CC finally does confront her demons, will she find the Missing Boyfriend? Or is it already too late?'

I had ready Nick Alexander’s The French House before I read this book not realising that this novel was the prequel to The French House. I have to say that the two books felt completely different in that both characters CC and Victor seemed like different people in The French House. To be honest until I had finished The Case of the Missing Boyfriend I really didn’t twig they were linked stories.

I enjoy the way Nick Alexander writes and was comfortable with the characters that did seemed like old friends (familiar because I had read the French House). I was intrigued and wanted to find out about the characters but I didn’t make the connection with the previous novel The French House other than the fact that CC felt familiar.

The main character CC is easily likeable, funny and an identifiable Bridget Jones type of character, typically single, optimistic and cynical in equal measure galloping towards 40 with a ticking biological clock she fills her days with a stressful job in advertising in the hope that she will be able to justify choosing a career over a family which she so desperately wants. But there the similarity to Bridget Jones ends, this felt like a more serious novel with underlying issues. CC fills her nights and weekends in the company mainly of her circle of gay friends who she tends to meet a lot of through her work and whom she trusts and feels safe with and occasionally ventures out to the obligatory dinner parties with her straight married friends where she feels like a spare part at a wedding. Her best friends are SJ (Sarah-Jane who we really don’t learn a lot about), Mark who is gay and lives in the flat above hers and also works in the advertising agency, and Darren who is also gay and works in the same agency (these two characters we seem to get a lot of background information on). Invitations to events with her gay friends are by far more entertaining and fun we learn and therefore she does not seem to socialise with straight characters which begs the question of how she would think she could meet the man of her dreams when she is always going to gay events – it is a bit unbelievable.

The author takes us on a journey through CC’s attempts to find the missing boyfriend in her life after having a couple of disastrous relationships; she manages to go speed dating which is a disaster except for a guy she likes the look of and nick names him as Brown Eyes (Norman) and exchanges telephone numbers with who when they do eventually manage to go on a date together turns out to be a married man who is looking for the ‘right person’ before he dumps his wife. We meet Charles the guy she chats to on a plane coming back from New York who asks her to join him in Nice for a few days and turns out to have a rather unfortunate sexual balloon fetish and Victor SJ’s gynaecologist who CC eventually consults to find out how big a window she has in terms of getting pregnant. This is all mixed in with CC’s gay friends’ lives, her mothers’ affair with a Moroccan tour guide and CC’s hopes and dreams of having a family and finding her missing boyfriend. Straight men in this novel are not portrayed well.

Her friends are lovely colourful characters who really have a strong bond with CC and this comes across to the reader however I felt that CC was a bit selfish, she never really seemed to listen to her friends problems. The loneliness she feels being single with no one to share her life with is evident and she appears to understand why her friend killed himself but I felt that since she knew all about being lonely she really should have seen what was happening to her ‘friend’ before it was too late.

Because she is so wrapped up in herself the author wants us to believe she does not realise she has found her missing boyfriend but to be honest neither did I. The romantic lead was invisible for most of the book and when he did appear Nick Alexander seemed to put him in almost as an afterthought. I have to say that it took the author so long to introduce the missing boyfriend I almost forgot that this was the point of the novel. Although I liked the way the author managed to address issues like AIDS, depression and suicide which is often difficult to do without compromising the lightness of the novel I did feel that this was what the novel was really about and the missing boyfriend aspect was really just a by-product.

This is reasonable holiday read, although not what I was expecting and it did take some time to get into. Although it was supposed to be about CC’s journey to find her missing boyfriend it appeared to lose its’ way and when the author did eventually get around to this point it ended rather quickly which seemed to be a bit of a letdown.

Overall I would give this a 3 star rating – it seemed to be more about the gay scene, drugs, depression and lost chances rather than the light hearted funny Bridget Jones type novel that I was expecting, despite this it was not a bad read but it was disappointing.

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