Being Simon Haines, by Tom MacAulay, is a difficult book to categorise. It tells the tale of Simon Haines, an ambitious lawyer chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. Simon is awaiting the results of a potential partnership with Fiennes & Plunkett, and decides to travel to Cuba to pass the time in an attempt to rediscover youthful enthusiasm and gather a clear mind before news that might change his life forever.
Although not being able to pinpoint the genre of the book, I quite enjoyed Being Simon Haines.
It was well written, which made it incredibly easy to follow the two storylines presented – Simon’s current life in London, and his past life as a young adult.
I liked the flashback sequences most because, as a student myself, the first-person narrative perspective of a young adult was easier to understand than the first-person perspective of a city lawyer.*
* I also loved the mentions of the University of Nottingham – my very own university!
I struggled with the occasional legalistic jargon, but I don’t think this particularly hindered the book. They say to write about what you know; MacAulay is a solicitor from North London, so it is unsurprising that these things should feature in Being Simon Haines.
I liked MacAulay’s development of characters too – Plunkett is a ridiculous boss with meticulous standards who only communicates in whispers, Giles is a bumbling assistant who only ever seems to make mistakes, and Dan is a laddish best friend with many attractive qualities. The only puzzle seems to be: who is Simon Haines?
I noticed my perception of Simon change throughout the book, as more information was drip-fed – at certain points I felt supportive of him, and at others I felt downright aversion towards him. Whether this was intended or not, I thought it cleverly challenged the notion that comes with a lot of books which is “they’re the main character therefore I have to like them”.
Overall, I don’t think Being Simon Haines is a book I’d have normally have chosen – it’s not a horror, dystopian, or a thriller. However, what it is is an interesting exploration of a man with a dream, and the consequences that come with pursuing ambitions – no matter what the cost.
Star Rating: 4/5 Stars
Being Simon Haines will be available to buy as a paperback on Amazon UK from June 2017.