Maxwell Sim is out of work, newly divorced, and clinically depressed. He has just returned from Australia where he failed to renew any sort of bond between himself and his distant and estranged father. How then can this book be so funny? Of course, it's a dark sort of humor but Jonathan Coe has crafted a brilliant tragic-comic tale with a hero who can't help but make a mess of his life. Despondent upon his return from Australia, he lucks into a job selling environmentally- friendly toothbrushes. His first assignment involves a road trip from London to the distant Shetland Islands. It is on this trip that Max's life truly begins to unravel. At each stop along the way, whether visiting friends or his ex-wife and daughter, Max learns something about his past or his identity that pushes him closer to the brink madness. The only person he can really talk to is the calming female voice of the navigation system in his company's Prius. While the laughs came less frequently the fart! her north Max journeyed, I could not wait to find out what the next stop would reveal, where Max's mind would wander and, of course, where he would end up. An absolutely fantastic novel. — Stan Hynds
Maxwell Sim seems to have hit rock bottom. Estranged from his father, newly divorced, unable to communicate with his only daughter, he realizes that while he may have 74 friends on Facebook, there is nobody in the world with whom he can actually share his problems. Then a business proposition requires him to drive to the Shetland Isles. Setting out with an open mind and friendly voice on his SatNav for company, Maxwell finds that his journey soon takes a more serious turn.