Meet Simon Haines.
For a decade he’s been chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. The gruelling hours and manic intensity of his job have come close to breaking him, but he has made it through the years and is now within a whisker of his millions: in less than two weeks, he will know the outcome of the partnership vote. He decides to spend the wait in Cuba in an attempt to rediscover his youthful enthusiasm and curiosity, and to clear his mind before the arrival of the news that might change his life forever. But alone in Havana he becomes lost in nostalgia and begins to relive his past…
Set against the backdrop of an uncertain world, and charged with emotion, Being Simon Haines is a searching story about contemporary London and aspiration, values and love. Painting a picture of a generation of young professionals, it asks the most universal of questions: are we strong enough to know who we are?
Firstly I would like to thank the author Tom MacAulay and Red Door Publishing for the ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.
In this, his first published novel, Tom MacAulay delivers an assured and fascinating study, of one man’s determined pursuit of a partnership in the law firm of Fiennes & Plunket. All other aspects of his life, have affectively been sacrificed in his relentless pursuit of success and financial reward. Then, while waiting to hear if he has succeeded in his dream of becoming a partner, he takes a break in Cuba, alone and at a lose end for the first time in many years.
Simon Haines is not your typically likeable character. In fact as the novel opens he both irritating and selfish. But, as he explores Cuba and recounts the events from his past that have led to this point in his life, I warmed to him. In fact I came to love him, in the way you love an annoying sibling. This is not a bad thing, I love my brother, but sometimes I could happily slap him!
As the novel progresses he deepens into a character who is capable of looking back on past events and questioning his life choices. Away from the crushing pressure of his London life, he has time to think, rest and reevaluate all the choices he has made. Does he want money and success over friends and a less hectic life. Is being a career devotee who Simon Haines really is?
Tom MacAulay thankfully does not fall into the trap of portraying Haines’s break in Cuba as a visit to an idyllic retreat. He looks past the isolated all inclusive hotel resorts into the real Cuba. He immerses his character in the amongst the poverty, massive edifices from a communist past and the wondrous and spikey personality of the Cuban people. Across its pages he introduces Simon to all aspects of the islands inhabitants and this is what begins to loosen the stranglehold the pursuit of money and success has on Simon Haines. His often awkward encounters with the local inhabitants made me smile and made me realise, he could be anyone of us in a similar situation.
Tom MacAulay has created a highly enjoyable and often very amusing read. At the same time he has delivered a novel that looks at the complexities of modern life and the obsession so many people have with status and personal wealth.
Join Simon on his journey of discovery, as looking back on his past, he revaluates the decisions he made and discovers whether he is brave enough to accept who he really is. Simon will get under your skin and good or bad, he is worth getting to know.
Without a doubt this novel deserves to read and recommended to all your book reading friends.
Being Simon Haines is published by Red Door Publishing and can be purchased from –
Amazon and Waterstones and other great bookshops.