Steve Ellis is a 33 year English Teacher, who doesn’t like English, or indeed teaching. He has practically no social life, hasn’t had a girlfriend for 12 years and his home is literally starting to fall apart. But his luck seems to change when he encounters a seemingly harmless old man in a pub and shares a drink with him. Before long, an acquaintance of the old man turns up on Steve’s doorstep, and asks him about his perfect woman – down to every last detail. Circumstances then land Steve in a hotel bar, where his perfect woman, who fulfills every criteria he specified – even down to her name, Cherry – walks into his life. At first he is suspicious about the whole matter, but before long he realises that he is so happy to have his ideal girlfriend that he stops caring about who Cherry really is, or where she came from. However, Steve eventually comes to realise that if he wants to hold on to the beautiful Cherry, there may be a very high price to pay.
This book seemed to start out in one direction, and then quickly veer off into another. Initially it appeared that it was going to be an amusing tale about one of life’s eccentrics, but then it seemed to almost turn into a sci-fi morality tale.
It’s narrated by Steve himself, which means that we only ever get to see things from his point of view, and how reliable his point of view is, is something to consider. On the plus side, the action moved quickly and it was engaging and entertaining fare – on the whole a fairly undemanding read. The chapters are short and this is a book that can be read and enjoyed in just one or two sittings.
However, on the downside, it all seemed just a little bit too unbelieveable. I could never really get too carried away with what was going to happen, because I felt certain that there would be ridiculously absurd ending (whether I was right or not is something that I won’t give away). Also, most of the other characters in the book are very one dimensional, and it is hard to really care about any of them. Cherry herself is seemingly devoid of any character and seems rather a boring person, even from Steve’s point of view. I must say though that I rather suspected that Cherry’s lack of character was somehow part of the point.
At just under 200 pages, this story has the feel of a modern fable, and the somewhat ambiguous ending will leave you thinking.