Review: The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison (4/5)

Tuesday 3 June 2014

About the Author

Born in London ages ago to his two parents, Frank and Jenny, J.B. Morrison is a musician and already the author of two novels - Storage Stories and Driving Jarvis Ham. Goodnight Jim Bob is an autobiographical account of his ten years as singer with punk-pop band Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

With Carter USM J. B. Morrison had 14 top 40 singles and a number one album. He played all over the world, headlined Glastonbury and was sued by The Rolling Stones. He's also made a ton of solo albums and written the screenplay for a film. Plus he was in a musical, in 2010 at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Is there no end to his talents? Yes. Everything not mentioned here. Don't ask him to put up a shelf or cook you dinner. The shelf will fall off the wall and you won't like the food.


About the Book

Frank Derrick is eighty-one. And he’s just been run over by a milk float. It was tough enough to fill the hours of the day when he was active. But now he’s broken his arm and fractured his foot, it looks set to be a very long few weeks ahead. Frank lives with his cat Bill (which made more sense before Ben died) in the typically British town of Fullwind-on-Sea. The Villages in Bloom competition is the topic of conversation amongst his neighbours but Frank has no interest in that. He watches DVDs, spends his money frivolously at the local charity shop and desperately tries to avoid the cold callers continuously knocking on his door. 

Emailing his daughter in America on the library computer and visiting his friend Smelly John used to be the highlights of his week. Now he can’t even do that. Then a breath of fresh air comes into his life in the form of Kelly Christmas, home help. With her little blue car and appalling parking, her cheerful resilience and ability to laugh at his jokes, Kelly changes Frank’s life. She reminds him that there is a big wide-world beyond the four walls of his flat and that adventures, however small, come to people of all ages. 

Frank and Kelly’s story is sad and funny, moving, familiar, uplifting. It is a small and perfect look at a life neither remarkable nor disastrous, but completely extraordinary nonetheless. 

For fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry this is a quirky, life affirming story that has enormous appeal. And it’s guaranteed to make you laugh.

Frank Derrick is eighty-one. And he's just been run over by a milk float. Okay I don't know about you but that's one of the best openings to a book blurb I think I've ever read. I had no idea what to expect from this book and really, it's like nothing I've ever read before. I read mostly crime fiction, chick lit, thrillers, true crime and autobiographies. So this book was very different from my normal read but I absolutely loved it.

Frank is a wonderful and hilarious character. I warmed to him straight away and he had me laughing many times throughout the book. He lives somewhat of a lonely life as his wife has passed away and his daughter lives abroad. When he is hit by a milk float his daughter arranges some home help which at first Frank does not want. When he meets Kelly Christmas however he is left having second thoughts, and wishing that he had made a better impression. No sooner is she out the door after her first visit and he's counting down the days till she returns. Soon they form a lovely friendship and Frank has to resort to finding ways to keep her coming round and also to pay her which makes for some funny scenes. 

The book is incredibly funny, and I could fill a review with some of the one liners but I think this is a book which should be read and discovered by the reader and they to can fall in love with the story. It's quite a life affirming read and left me actually questioning my own life. At 24 I already have some regrets about what I have and haven't done and that really shouldn't be the case. With older people in particular I think people sometimes forget they were young people themselves too, with hopes and dreams. Frank wakes up each morning counting the aeroplanes flying overhead and thinking if he stays in bed he will feel young, rather than getting up and looking in the mirror or feeling his aches and pains. 

The author says in a Q&A in the book that this isn't a book about an old man but a book about a man who just happens to be old. Why because someone is old can't they still enjoy the things they enjoyed when they were younger? I think this will be particularly interesting in this day and age, with so much reliance on technology and the Internet etc when we ourselves are in our 70s and 80s will we abandon all of that? I don't think we will. I used to visit my Nan and Grandad every day when I was younger, I try and visit often now but perhaps don't go as often as I should. This book reminds me that I should. Despite the sad parts, alongside the humour this really is an uplifting and wonderful read that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Buy this book from Amazon

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