David Lodge

Therapy

Penguin Books, 1996
ISBN 0-14-024900-1

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Lawrence Passmore, nicknamed "Tubby" (a name he doesn't like) is in his early fifties, plump, balding, and rather depressed. Even though he is successful on a professional level (he is a scriptwriter for the popular sitcom The People Next Door), he is going through a midlife crisis. His marriage isn't what it used to be, he suspects his wife of having an affair with her tennis coach, and his own affair with a colleague from the television station turns out to be a major let-down. In order to cure his various (psychosomatic) ailments, Lawrence resorts to all sorts of therapies, from classic psychotherapy to acupuncture to aroma therapy. He doesn't like to tell people about the latter because it isn't as highly regarded a therapy as the rest. Only when he meets an old acquaintance from his youth, his life seems to take a more positive turn once more.

English literature professor David Lodge is better known for his satiric novels, notably Changing Places and Small World. Lawrence Passmore isn't as grotesque a character as Philip Swallow and Morris Zapp, the protagonists of the aforementioned books, but Lodge's British humour made me laugh out loud more than once when I read Therapy. Like Changing Places, Therapy is set in Rummidge, the fictional counterpart of Birmingham. I think these rather depressing surroundings must have been responsible for Passmore's mental state; throughout the whole book, I wasn't sure if I liked him or not. In the end, I did like him, but I won't tell you why, it would be giving a major plot point away. All in all, Therapy didn't thrill me the way Changing Places did, which is one of the funniest books I ever read, but it is good and intelligent entertainment, something I can't say about quite a few bestsellers I have read.

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