Friday, 17 June 2011

Beyond Nostalgia by Tom Winton

Beyond Nostalgia by Tom Winton
First published by CreateSpace in 2011 (a pdf copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author for review)

Description (from Goodreads):
Born with blue in his collar, not in his veins, Dean Cassidy chronicles his soul-scarring rise from New York's darkest alleys to a place somewhere nearer the top of his world. A human accomplishment as difficult as it is unlikely, his struggle is intensified by haunting memories of Theresa Wayman, his long-estranged teenage soul-mate.

Theresa!Theresa!Theresa! She just won't go away.

For five years after losing contact with her, Dean anesthetizes his pain with the same things that caused it - boozy nights and faceless women. Then he gets lucky again. He meets, and soon marries, Maddy Frances Ronan, a woman so giving (and forgiving) she deserves to be canonized.

Despite Dean’s many hang-ups and blunders, Maddy’s love for him never wavers. For two decades she endures all the jumped jobs, the time he goes postal, his frequent depressions and his ongoing anguish over the hostile corporate takeover of his and other American families. Even after she finds Dean unconscious, clutching a faded photograph of Theresa Wayman, she sticks by him.

But their problems don’t end there. There’s a green cloud, known as money, that forever casts shadows on their happiness. Even when Maddy and Dean’s two boys enter school and she takes on a job, there’s never enough. That is until the eleventh hour when things are looking their bleakest …......

My thoughts:
First off, I just noticed the description is sooo long! It does give a pretty good feel of the story, though it could probably do with being a little shorter. It didn't ruin the story for me in any way, but when I read it again after I finished reading the book, I realised how much information it gives away.

So, now, about the actual book! The story is cut into two parts: the first one is set in the time of Dean's youth, while the second takes place many years later, when Dean is in his forties. The first part is pretty much a romance story gone bad. Set in Manhattan, it's about how Dean and Theresa met, how the came to be in a relationship, what happened to end up with Theresa to be estranged from him. It really is a wonderfully described relationship, in which both characters are lovely. Probably because each on brings out the best in the other. You were expecting the relationship to go bad in many places, because of certain occurrences, but, no, Dean and Therese seemed to be able to weather it all. Until it went one step too far.

After that, we sort-of zoom through for a few years, until we get to the point where Dean meets Maddy Frances, and then, we fast-forward even more, until we get to the point where Dean and Maddy are in their forties.The story has a completely different tone to it, by this point. Dean seems mellower, but he still seems to be wallowing in self-pity for messing it up with Theresa so many years ago. Suddenly, Dean realises what he really wants to do with his life and sets out to give it a try. I am not going to say anything more from this part until the end of the book, because it was my favourite part in the whole book. Especially the last few chapters. There were times when I thought Dean was just going to go and do what I expected him to do, but, in the end didn't.

I found that I couldn't really sympathise with Dean. He seemed like a really weak person in quite a few parts of the book, especially during the second half. I do know that some people cannnot get over a break-up easily, but I do not understand people who live half a life for so many years, when they actually have such wonderful people (husbands/wives/children) next to them. 20 years seems like a very long time to still be waiting for your once-upon-a-time soulmate.

There were a couple of other things I didn't really like about this book, but they didn't have to do with the actual story, just the way it was written. The main one was the capitalisation of sentences when Dean was in a state or was involved in a fight with someone. I realise that Mr Winton's aim was to change the tone and make  Dean sound angry in those particular parts, but they seemed a little too much for me. The other thing I didn't like was the excessive use of the MF word. I wouldn't have minded it if it only surfaced a few times, but it seemed to come up every single time Dean was angry/sad.

All in all, it is a very well written book, telling the story of a man's first love and all the consequences of losing it.

Rating: 7/10

Tom Winton was born and raised in New York. Over the years he has held a great number of jobs, varying from postman to entrepreneur. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his Jack Russell terrier, Ginger! He has written a considerable number of articles for newspapers and magazines, but Beyond Nostalgia is his first novel. (It is available for download from Amazon - site  |  .com site). He is currently working on his second novel.

For more information, check out his website HERE.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

(Disclaimer: I received a free pdf copy of this book from the author for review. It has not influenced my opinion in any way. Also, while I have linked to the two Amazon sites selling e-book copies of this book, I do not make any money out of it. The links are there just for information purposes.)


  1. I always find that the blurb gives so much away once you read it after I've finished the book. Weird how we never pick up on it while we read it :P

    Am I right in thinking Tim Winton wrote Breathe (or Breath)? I had a copy of it up until a few weeks ago.

    Sounds like a good read. Would you say this is adult or YA? It sounds more adulty

  2. Hmmm... capitalisation as a way to show anger. I'm raising an eyebrow. I wish you could see me. How about showing that the character is angry through description. This is not for me. Great, honest review.


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