Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review of the Day: Therapy


Laurence "Tubby" Passmore has a sexually active, but otherwise stalled, marriage, a platonic mistress, and a bum knee. He is the creator and writer of a popular British sitcom, but his career is heading for a cliff unless he can rewrite the season finale. All this has driven Tubby to therapy – psycho, cognitive, physical, and aroma – as well as a self-guided study of the 19th century Danish existential philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard.

David Lodge is clever and perceptive and writes the kind of books I can't resist – intelligent stories of charming, bumbling, middle aged men behaving badly. In Therapy, Lodge uses the workable device of Tubby writing a journal at the request of his practical-minded psychiatrist, broken up with chapters in the voices of other characters and a longish "memoir" by Tubby of his teenage romance with a Catholic schoolgirl.

Lodge uses Kierkegaard's own romantic history and the religious philosophy he developed from it to organize some of the plot and ideas of this novel. He also revisits the Catholic themes he plumbed so deeply in How Far Can You Go? (winner of the Costa BOTY award; on Anthony Burgess's list of favorites; reviewed here).

He has a light touch with the philosophy and religious bits, and the book remains funny and entertaining throughout, with an ending that made me laugh out loud in pleased surprise.


  1. Sounds like something a bit different, which is always promising.

  2. THe only David Lodge book I have read is Deaf Sentence. I enjoyed it, but I do think that he is one of those authors that you need to have read broadly of before you can come to an opinion about him. At least that's how I feel about him. I have heard that he wrote something non-fiction about writing fiction and I would be interested in reading that.

  3. I enjoyed Changing Places several years ago. Sounds like this one would be fun, too. Thanks for the review!

  4. Susan: Certainly it is the only novel I have ever read with an emphasis on Kierkegaard!

    Becky: I really loved Deaf Sentence, but thought it didn't have the balance of substance and humor that others had, like How far Can You Go? and Changing Places. It was more pure entertainment, particularly for me because one of my law partners is losing his hearing, so the humor in the book struck a chord with me.

    JoAnn: I really enjoyed and look forward to reading the next two in that trilogy, Small World and Nice Work. I finally have both on my TBR shelf.


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