After an absence of seven years, Greg Bowman returns home from America to find his father lying in a bamboo coffin, his estranged brother Billy stalking a woman with no feet, and his 79 year-old Uncle Frank planning to rob a bank. While renovating the family house, he is unexpectedly visited by the presence of his dead father and charged with the task of ‘fixing’ the family. In the course of his reluctant investigations, Greg discovers an unsettling secret of his father’s, and one that brings him face to face with the consequences of his own past.
Lyle Bowman is eighty-three years old. Taking a break from painting his house he decides to go and get a Double Decker from the local shop. What he has not realised is that he has drunk a glass of white spirit and his inability to walk results in him being knocked over and killed by a double-decker bus.
His youngest son, Greg returns from America for his funeral. It is the first time he has been home to see his family in seven years – his Uncle Frank and his older brother, Billy (a brother with whom he has been estranged.) Whilst staying in his father’s house, Greg’s Dad suddenly appears. What ensues is a look at this dysfunctional family who has to learn how to be a family again.
This book was not what I expected. There were elements of the story that took me completely by surprise especially the ending. There is a thread of sadness running through it but it is also done with great humour. There were some bittersweet moments, some strange moments and some outright funny moments – my favourites involving Greg’s Uncle Frank. I think out of all the characters, he was my favourite.
The characters in general were what I found most interesting in The Last of The Bowmans. There are many layers to them. Frank is outwardly outspoken but is actually quite a lonely man. Billy is struggling with years of being the brother that is always playing catch up and Greg is a victim of his own ignorance especially when it involves the people around him. He takes many things for granted and for me, he was the least changed character by the end.
I did feel as though I was getting to know these characters as Greg was in the story and they are all developed well.
Overall, I liked this book. It was a lovely, surprising read and great if you’re looking for something unusual and quirky.
(The Last of the Bowmans was released by No Exit Press, January 2016. I thank them for the review copy. This book is available in most UK book shops.)
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