They say to not judge a book by its cover, but in this case that is exactly what I did. Actually, that’s what I do most of the time, so you could say I’m a bit superficial though I’d rather not be called that.
I picked up “Charlotte Street” by Danny Wallace because I saw the Union Jack somewhere on the cover. As a self-proclaimed Anglophile (and Francophile)I can’t help but be drawn to the British flag. It is so perfect and symmetrical and looks good on anything from Mini Coopers to duvet covers -which I am not ashamed to say I have recently ordered and is on its way to my house as you read – and the tiny spot of Union Jack on the street sign was enough to make me think this book was going to be great.
Danny Wallace is a funny man. I say this because my Google search of his works keeps throwing the word “humorist” at me and we know from that car insurance commercial that everything on the internet is true. I also say this because I did honestly laugh out loud – I lol’d- and unless the book is one of the Georgia Nicholson books or written by Bill Bryson, I do not laugh a squeak. I do not even giggle. But Wallace crafted his characters which such realistic human flaws that it was easy to imagine you were reading about a friend of yours.
Jason Priestly -not the actual famous one- is that friend who doesn’t quite have it all together. But then you remember, who really has it all together anyways? He’s a somewhat recently single and broken man who seems to have given up a little, in the way that people find themselves in a rut and just can’t get out of. And a few months go by. And a few more and then they are nicely settled in that rut. Wallace creates a character so realistically flawed it’s almost like looking into a mirror. His relationships, both the fleeting and the long-lasting, are fraught with the regular mishaps and cracks that afflict relationships in real life.
Though set in London, the often romanticized city is not thrown into the reader’s face. I like treating marvelous cities like they are Cleveland. It’s how people view the cities they live in, just as how I would see Boston (Boston being the city that I am most familiar and comfortable with).
The writing was simple, with no complicated forms or artistic flourishes, making it a nice summer read.
This is a novel is about finding happiness within yourself first, then finding what is important to your life and then finally doing something about it. In “Charlotte Street” the premise is that Jason is in possession of these photos belonging to an unidentified woman that has grabbed his attention. Though it seems he is infatuated with the idea of her, his search for her through her photos takes him on a journey where the destination no longer leads to the mystery girl.
I fully recommend this to anyone who likes a light, summery novel that, while romantic, focuses not on the romance but on the self.