Traumatised by a tour of duty in Iraq, Richard Gaunt returns home to his girlfriend with very little of a plan in mind. Finding it difficult to settle into civilian life, he turns to drink and gambling - and is challenged to a bet he cannot resist. All he has to do is walk from London to Oxford in under twelve hours.
But what starts as a harmless venture turns into something altogether different when Richard recklessly accepts an unusual request from a stranger. . .
1 Reader Reviews
thought-provoking, funny and entertaining
More Than You Can Say is the fifth novel by British author, Paul Torday. Richard Gaunt is unemployed, in debt and his tally of friends is quickly diminishing. So when Ed Hartlepool makes a bet with him in the wee small hours, he is determined to win: he will walk from London to Oxford by 1pm. But then a black Range Rover knocks him off the road, and Richard’s plans go awry in a major way. Missing the bet deadline soon becomes the least of his worries.
He finds himself in a bizarre situation, and makes decisions that the old Richard, the one who hadn’t yet served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would never have made. Something of the fateful “why not?’ attitude that operated during his tour of duty takes control, and more than once, he is embarrassed and therefore reticent to explain just what led to these unwise choices.
Torday provides a backstory for Richard in the form of flashbacks to his time in the Middle East and, afterwards, the deterioration of his relationship with his family, friends and his fiancée, Emma. While for the reader, the sense of “this can’t end well” may be overwhelming, Torday still manages to include some black humour, the odd twist to keep things interesting and an exciting climax.
Torday’s characters are familiar and believable; it is easy to care for Richard even while shaking one’s head at his poor choices. Torday explores subjects both topical and eternal: the long-lasting and far-ranging effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; the role of foreign powers in the Middle East conflicts; and the importance of a strong belief in what you are doing.
Torday said he trying to find the “ultimate novel” and wrote compulsively: each of his seven novels is a different genre, and he describes More Than You Can Say as an old-fashioned adventure story. This edition also contains a reading guide and a preview of the next book Torday wrote: The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall. Several characters from previous (and future) novels play a role in this novel: Torday’s characters tend to do this. This is another brilliant novel by Paul Torday: thought-provoking, funny and entertaining.