The Heart of Henry Quantum - Pepper Harding

This book was compared with A Man Called Ove and Love, Actually, a book and a film the blurb refers to as beloved. And that is a big reason I chose this book on NetGalley — because I did love both of them.

 

Unlike Ove, this story does not feature a loveable character; in fact, only one of the three main characters, featured in different parts, was one I would consider compelling. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the story revolves around a couple who has, for the most part, given up on love, where Ove's story was one of a love lost and mourned. This is a more cynical story, with an edge to it; Ove is a curmudgeon where Henry, despite being described as socially-awkward, has managed to have an affair that inspired a woman to leave her marriage. In Henry's long day's journey into shopping for his wife's Christmas present, I was reminded of Harold Fry, (in a good way) but at the same time I wanted to scream at him to just buy the damn perfume and get back to work. I understand the point wasn't the perfume, but still, it was aggravating given that the premise involved such an easily accomplished task as opposed to a complex journey.

 

I saw in some reviews outrage that the story contains offensive, inappropriate language regarding mental health, among other things, and I agree — there were several cringe-worthy statements made by the main characters. This is not a matter of being true to a character, the statements were gratuitous and would have been better left unexpressed.

 

I would guess that the relatively small number of reviews I've seen has as much to do with that last point as it does the poor comparisons in the blurb — perhaps aligning with something like Shopgirl or Little Children, both of which sprang to my mind while reading, would have helped. Aside from the poor choice of certain lines of dialogue, the book still would have appealed to me, but my expectations would have been very different.