Review: The Silver Linings Play Book by Matthew Quick

Firstly I have to admit that my reading of this novel, and subsequently my review is undoubtedly coloured by the fact that I saw the film adaptation of it last year. I always try to read the book first, or if I really like the film I put off reading the book for a while so that I can enjoy them both separately, but I was too curious to pass this book up when I saw it on the library shelf.

The whole story is told in first person perspective through Pat's eyes, sort of like a diary, which gives an insight into his incredibly fragile frame of mind. He is an OCD fitness fanatic, recently released from a mental institution (or 'the bad place' as Pat refers to it), who is adamant that he will be reunited with his ex-wife despite the fact that everybody doubts him. His firm belief in silver linings and happy endings at first glance seems to be a positive outlook on life, but as you read on you realise that his dream isn't going to come true, that this isn't going to play out like a typical romance novel, or like the rom-com that Pat insists his life embodies. As no descriptions are given of Pat I can't help but picture Bradley Cooper who, on reflection after reading the novel, played Pat perfectly! In fact, aside from the fact that Tiffany is supposed to be older than Pat, I think that the film was cast brilliantly, and they all portray their characters really well. 

Then along comes Tiffany, a widow with psychological problems of her own. Two misunderstood social outcasts are thrown together, the ultimate odd couple taking silent jogs and eating raisin bran in diners. It's implied from the start that these two are destined to be together, but there is nothing at all predictable about how they get to that point. This is not so much a novel about love as about friends and family; the most entertaining parts of the plot for me took place at the American football games where the Eagles fans, including Pat's brother, friends and therapist, all bonded over their love of the sport.

Very short chapters made this book easy to read, but also easy to put down. It isn't really a novel that you can truly immerse yourself in, and instead of reading it for hours on end I'd read a few pages each day. That said I got through it quicker than I was expecting, and enjoyed it a lot more than I initially thought I would. I grew to really feel for Pat and hoped that his 'film' got its silver lining and happy ending that he so deserved.

It's been a while since I saw the film, but I seem to remember the ending being very different, and the plot was a lot more focused on the dance contest than the novel is. However I do feel that it did the novel justice!

4/5 stars: Quirky and heartfelt, The Silver Linings Playbook teaches us that life is not a movie, or indeed a novel. Things don't always turn out the way you plan them, and that's okay. Life is unpredictable.


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