The Best of Adam Sharp is the third novel by best-selling Australian author, Graeme Simsion. Adam Sharp is in his late forties when an email lands in his inbox from one Angelina Brown: “Hi”. For Adam, this one-word missive is a blast from the past. It was twenty-two years ago that Adam last saw Angelina, who was, at that time (and maybe still is?) his Great Lost Love. Adam reflects on his no-longer-passionate marriage to Claire, thinks about what might have been with Angelina, and begins to wonder if her contact is a second chance for them both.
Simsion gives the reader a classic plot with a twist or two, characters whose very human flaws prove them anything but one-dimensional, and settings that are expertly rendered. By telling his story from a male perspective, Simsion is bound to gain some male readers who would usually avoid romance; by making his protagonist a pianist, he may well attract even more.
Adam’s profession may be in IT, but his passion, courtesy of his largely absent Dad, is music: playing it, listening to it and knowing all about it. Adam’s playlist (conveniently reproduced at the end of the story or see https://open.spotify.com/user/thebestofadamsharp/playlist/52HEENZTAQaoMLiAnZLk3H) will resonate with many of the later Baby Boomer generation. The nostalgia produced may not have the same significance for the reader as it does for Adam (or Graeme), but listening is guaranteed to generate some strong feelings and memories all the same.
Simsion splits the story in two: in Part 1, the narrative switches between Adam’s life in present day Norwich and his affair with Angelina in Melbourne twenty-two years earlier; Part 2 details the events of Adam’s week in Burgundy. The former builds a strong base for a story that then begins to teeter slightly on the shaky ground of some kinky goings-on before eventually settling into a solid conclusion.
Simsion packs quite a bit into his love story: infidelity, infertility, confidence (and lack thereof), broken marriages, passion, memories, regrets, the need for approval and pub quizzes all feature. There is some clever word play (music keys, the names of imagined offspring), also quite a lot of sex, and food, and wine, and while there is humour (some of it quite dark), The Best of Adam Sharp is a departure from the style of Simsion’s Don Tillman novels: this author clearly has more than one string to his bow. A thought-provoking and entertaining read. 5 stars