A Novel by David Hodgson

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****   By Howard Walden, Chairman 40-60 Book Club on 5 Feb 2015

"A consistent mark of 7 or 8 was given by all the Book Club's members so everyone liked it. This is a highly creditable marking if you consider the range of novels by well-known and best- selling writers that have been reviewed by the club and got much lower marks.

So why should you chose this book? Well the novel 's theme is an unusual one; what happens to a man who doesn't want to grow up and take responsibility for his actions.  Can he change? At the core of the book is how two people deal with a major issue which challenges their relationship and strength of character. It is written in a very easy to read style and there are many twists in the plot, so you will find you want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next.

It is beautifully and carefully structured.  Let's face it, many modern authors are slap dash in their approach to constructing a novel, with implausible or contrived plot developments, out of character individuals and those for whom it is unclear how they relate to either to the storyline or who just disappear half way through a book.

But the book still takes one enormous risk in its structure which thankfully pays off. It is written in the first person for each of the two main characters, alternating between them. Consequently you get both sides of the story. Additionally and alarmingly the book starts with a short section which initially appears to have nothing to do with the rest of the book. But much later in the book the profound significance of the first chapter's events are revealed to dramatic effect. The book was road tested by book club members.  It had a few structural problems and these were ironed out before it was published.

The predominant character is Sebastian Winter an anti hero.  A likeable rogue? definitely a chancer who people are attracted to.  How many plates can this man have spinning on billiard cubes before some come crashing down? Then there's Alice ... the club members were particularly impressed how realistic a male author has made her. And then there's the third character, Piers...but I mustn't reveal the plot must I?

Amazon Book Review *****   By Alan Afriat on 21 Feb. 2015

A first rate novel telling the story of a truly heart rending conflict between the characters.

Cleverly, the tale is told not in the third person, but entirely in the first person singular and all is revealed through intercutting the personal thoughts and feelings being expressed by each as their lives continue. This makes the characters seem very real and vividly alive and the progress of their conflicts makes compulsive reading through surprising and dramatic events.

Written by a man, the way he has expressed feminine thoughts and feelings is truly impressive.

Booker prize potential I would say!"

Readers Comments

By Martin Smith in the Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog

"I would endorse the comments on the back cover (from a local book club) 'Can't put it down - gripping.   Book well structured - wanted to know what happened next all the time.'   You are not disappointed, something always does." 

It may be a first novel, but its plot is finely crafted - and when you discover David's profession you understand why: he was an award winning TV programme maker on a wide range of subjects "from current affairs to greyhound racing and even one on love poetry".  This experience, he says, helped him hit on the unusual format for telling the story of Can I Touch Your Face?: it has two alternating perspectives on the same events - both in the first-person - they report the dialogue making the action, and they lay bare the main characters' interior reflections. These two interlocking accounts, from Alice and Seb - heroine and anti-hero perhaps - whose relationship, on/off, hot/cold, is the spine of the plot, are extremely well-crafted: you are constantly changing ends to capture the tension in the drama.  

From David Bryant

"I am not a great lover of fiction but I like a human story. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. The characters were so vivid in my mind and the twists and turns in the storyline left me wanting to know more.

There was so much that I could relate to regarding human frailties and relationships...........Many of us talk about writing a book but not only have you done it, but you have, at the first attempt done it with aplomb and produced a brilliant book."

From Dr Liz Lane Lecturer in Music at the Open University

"I have just finished - and thoroughly enjoyed - your very memorable book today. Thank you so much for the copy which I'll pass on to my dad!"

From Marek Turowski

"Just wanted to say I’ve just finished your book and I loved it.  I was surprised I actually could not put it down and literally just finished it."