The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker is a quirky read from Bobbie Darbyshire which I really enjoyed. Our eponymous hero has been a hugely successful actor and national treasure – think along the lines of Lawrence Olivier – and his sudden death leaves his adoring public stunned. But not as stunned as Harry perhaps! As the media go into something of a frenzy about the news, his will makes interesting reading for many, not least his estranged son Richard. Richard runs a small cafe which isn’t doing very well, is not as happy as he’d like in his relationship with Claire and feels rather trapped by his demanding mother. He dreams of escape – could his father’s will offer him the freedom he craves?
After his death, Harry finds himself trapped on earth and he too is trying to escape. Now I’m not going to say why and how he is trapped but I will say that I thought it was a really original idea. It was quite amusing reading about this character who had been so successful, in his own eyes, in life but who discovers in death that perhaps he had valued the wrong things and wrong people. It maybe sounds a bit harsh to find that amusing but if you read the book, you’ll see what I mean. It was interesting to compare the different ways Harry and Richard were trapped and how the author made me feel some sympathy towards Richard’s situation but not, at first, towards Harry.
Despite his pompousness and conceit, Harry grew on me throughout the book as he learned a few valuable lessons. Richard also learned that the freedom he wanted was not so far away after all. Happiness, freedom and contentment is valuing where you are and being with the people you hold dear. The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker is an amusing and astute book, lively and full of memorable characters.
My thanks to the publishers, Sandstone Press, for sending me a copy of this book. It will be published on 21st March in paperback and as an ebook. You can preorder from bookshops or online and will find all relevant links on the publishers website here: Harry Whittaker
From the back of the book
When Harry Whittaker, much loved star of stage and screen, dies suddenly of a heart attack, he finds himself still in this world. Trapped in a bizarre afterlife, he struggles to free himself. Meanwhile, his estranged son Richard is also trying to escape – from his failing café, his dotty mother and the wrong girlfriend. Perhaps what they all need is a guardian angel.
About the author
Bobbie’s fourth novel, ‘The Posthumous Adventures of Harry Whittaker’ is due out in March 2019. Her earlier novels are: ‘Oz’, ‘Love, Revenge & Buttered Scones’ and ‘Truth Games’. She won the 2008 fiction prize at the National Academy of Writing and the New Delta Review Creative Nonfiction Prize 2010. She has worked as barmaid, mushroom picker, film extra, maths coach, cabinet minister’s private secretary, care assistant and volunteer adult-literacy teacher, as well as in social research and government policy.