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Andi Watson: Breakfast After Noon

I pulled this off the shelf because I needed to switch genres for a bit before I settled into the last book of a series I’m reading. It’s been about 10 years since I read it last and not much has changed. I still like and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending.

Rob and Louise are engaged and shacking up. The story starts at the end of their last day at the Windsor pottery factory. The industry’s fallen on hard times and has no choice but to pass it on to their workforce. With the wedding and bills (including a mortgage) needing tending, the newlyweds-to-be cannot afford to take it easy on this unscheduled holiday. Louise gets into this is just a minor setback mode and signs up for the dole (unemployment) and starts looking for a new job. The pickings are slim for the unskilled, so she considers going back to school. For the moment her future is looking bright, or at least illuminated.

The same cannot be said for Rob. Much to eventually everyone’s chagrin, Rob hasn’t caught the fresh start bug and, in fact, appears to be entirely immune. He was quite happy with his job and he sees no reason to give up on it. Not even the fact that it’s a dying industry seems to deter him. Rob’s stubbornness keeps him busy with what amounts to a whole lot of nothing and delays his efforts in finding a new job. While he’s wallowing in obstinacy, his life is falling apart around him, not that he notices. So it comes as a complete surprise to him that he pissed off his friends and that Louise has called off the wedding and left him.

Rob tries to get Louise back, but she won’t even entertain him, so he shows up at her job looking (and probably smelling) like life threw him out with the remains of last week’s meals.You’d think that still getting turned away after a face to face encounter would wake him up, but he doesn’t even stir. He continues on, eyelids heavy with dogged ignorance.

And this is where it gets tricky for me. The unemployment gods smile on Rob and present him with an interview for a job in… pottery… still a dying industry. He gets the job along with an invitation to his friend’s wedding. While there he meets Louise, tells her he has a job, she says that wasn’t precisely issue, and then the live happily ever after. Or not.

So, I guess my biggest problem is that Rob is a loser and turns into a loser jerk when the chips are down. It’s still a dying industry, so who’s to say he won’t be laid off again? Will it be the same thing all over? He’s never going to be able to cope because he’ll think, “I held out last time and it paid off, so that should be fine this time too.” And this is not limited to his work situation, there are so many other things that could happen in life and his alter ego, Super Unyielding Man, just won’t cut it every time.

My other problem is, what if she decided not to go to the wedding, when was he going to tell her about his new job? Most wedding invitations go out more than a month (and I’m being conservative) in advance, so he had plenty of time to tell her, but he waited. He procrastinated on a lot of things throughout the story, but why wait for that?

Louise saw him in all his glory and still wanted to be with him, so love conquers all and all that. And I feel like I should buy into that happily ever after, but it’s hard to when Louise has to face the future with someone like Rob.

Rob’s descent juxtaposed with Louise and his friends transitions into new life phases was well told and was what made the story for me, but I just can’t settle on the ending. I remain conflicted.

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