29 Aug 2022


 One of several bloggers who over 7 days will be participating in this Blog Tour. Today {the 5th day of the Tour) its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on ...


Genre ... Comedy / humour / travel

Publication Date ... 24th February 2022

Standalone Novel

Estimated Page Count ... 195

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3spEKZ9

‘Could there be a world of interest and adventure beyond the Midlands? A world of confidence, sex and excitement? A better life – a better me?’ These are the questions Gerard Philey grapples with over New Year, 1995. Sitting in his rented Black Country room, reflecting on his thankless teaching job and miserable love life, he courageously decides to abandon his humdrum existence and embark on a quest for Euro-fulfilment, fun and fitness on the Continent.

After a shaky start in Brussels, events manoeuvre him to Amsterdam where chance encounters shift his world well and truly into fifth gear. He samples the trials and tribulations of new relationships, alongside managing a sex shop in the city’s Red Light Area – on top of the challenges of fat-free living and international travel!

Through his bittersweet diary, we see how Gerard steers a laugh-out-loud course through farcical episodes and fanciful characters...and how entanglements from past and present draw him unwittingly into a criminal underworld where events ultimately take their toll.
... Synopsis

January 1st again, and same New Year's Day feeling when I woke up this morning: relief that last year is exactly that, followed by sense of dread about the year ahead. ... First Sentence, First Entry: 'Monday 1st January - Walsall

Went to Rotherdam with Frank on train this afternoon for a change of scene. Very impressed. Went up Euromast, round shops {got a new lamp for the flat}, and to an art gallery with loads of b's in its name {Frank's choice}. Lots of people in there hanging around in front of canvases which looked like they'd been sneezed at in colour. One bloke was blabbing on to some woman about "the restraints of artistic abandonment" and "the chaos of the cosmos" as reflected in the painting, when he walked backwards into a Persian vase, causing a bit of a scene. ... Memorable Moment, Page 63

There are those books when offered a copy that I jump at and then there are those that I have to think twice about and with its tag of 'humour' {books labelled thus alas are all too often not}, its diary entries {not my favourite format it has to be said} and its sex shop setting {I hold my hands up, I'm a bit of a prude} this fell into the latter category which just goes to prove one should 'never say never' ... at least not always.

What turned out to be a humorous, at times actually LOL, read after all, its diary entries reminiscent of The Diaries Of Adrian Mole  {a series of books my late-teenage self loved} but for adults, its sex shop setting not anything my prudish self couldn't cope with; indeed some of the most funniest moments took place here AND it gave a great insight into the psyche of your typical reserved/sexually repressed Brit compared to that of the, well, more liberated Dutch.

Heart warming, honest, compelling, outrageous, its diary format making it both easy {at least in theory anyway} and yet all too difficult to put the book down {the number of times I thought just one more entry only for that one more entry to become several}, cringe worthy, far from subtle, surprising; an altogether compelling read of a 'fish out of water', of a Brit abroad exposed to, well, the seedier side of life.

Its mid nineteen-nineties setting filling me with nostalgia though I suspect some of the references will be lost on younger readers and even more so on those who aren't British ... as indeed might some of the humour. 

What however really made the book for me was its wonderful characters. Oh My Goodness! I adored both Gerard and his German flatmate Frank; taking them into my heart in a way that I hadn't anticipated. 

Likable, realistic, easy to relate to, Gerard is an amazing character, the situations he finds himself in, for the main part, genuinely funny though there were some in which I felt genuine empathy for him. His and Frank's relationship, well, lets just say that the way  both men's lives, especially Gerard's, are enriched is so incredibly sweet.

One of those books I could shout about from the rooftops {as my late nana would say} ... made all the better by the fact I enjoyed it in a way I hadn't thought I would. Will there be a sequel? Hmm! I'm truly hoping so.

About Brendan James ... Brendan James is the author of the new comedy novel, “Gerard Philey’s Euro-Diary: Quest for a Life”. Though this is his first novel, he has a large number of non-fiction publications (under the name Brendan Bartram) as a former university lecturer and researcher. A passionate linguist and Europhile, he spent a number of years working in the Netherlands, France and Germany. He lives in the West Midlands with his husband.

Follow Brendan James ... ~ Twitter ~ GoodReads ~


Unknown said...

Thank you SO much for such a gorgeous review, Felicity! 😊😊

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

This is interesting. I don't think I've raad a diary entry type book. Glad you had fun with this one.

Meg said...

I loved Adrian Vole when I was younger! I haven't thought about those books in ages. Wonder if my library has them now

sherry fundin said...

I love when a find a hidden gem. Thanks for sharing your wonderful review.
sherry @ fundinmental

Nadene @Ttly Addicted 2 Reading said...

You went outside your comfort zone and found a gem. Awesome!

Kelly said...

I'm always hesitant about humor since it can be so subjective. I do enjoy some British humor, but I wonder how much of this would go over my head. I'm glad it ended up being a big hit for you!

nightwingsraven said...

This sounds like a truly heart warming
and compelling story. And besides the
sympathetic characters I would appreciate
the humour and Amsterdam. I will definitely
keep it in mind.
And thank you for your excellent review.

Gina said...

So glad it turned out well for you! You're quite right, humor is subjective as are alternative settings! 😄