Title: Song in the Wrong Key by Simon Lipson
Publisher: Lane & Hart Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 310 pages
Book Rating: B
Michael Kenton is a middle-aged man living in middle-class comfort with wife Lisa and daughters Millie and Katia. Drifting complacently towards retirement, Mike’s world is turned upside-down when he is thrown unexpectedly onto the career scrapheap.
While Lisa’s career sky-rockets, Mike slobs around in his track suit playing guitar, rekindling his teenage love affair with pop music. Knowing Lisa wouldn’t approve, he plots a secret ‘comeback’ at a grimy Crouch End bistro where music executive Ben, desperate and out of time, asks if he can enter one of Mike’s songs into the Eurovision Song Contest. With nothing to lose, Mike focuses on Eurovision but quickly finds himself staring down the barrel of low level fame. His crumbling marriage now page five news, he must choose between his musical dream and mending his broken family, a task complicated by the re-appearance of ex-love of his life Faye.
A laugh-out-loud comedy about love, family, friendship and Euro- tack by acclaimed stand-up and comedy writer Simon Lipson.
Simon Lipson’s Song in the Wrong Key is a humorous and sometimes poignant novel about a middle-aged man whose life is in a downward spiral. Sacked from his longtime job, Michael Kenton is depressed, virtually unemployable and his marriage is on its last legs. When a strange twist of fate offers him the opportunity to perform a few gigs in the same bistro he performed in his college days, Mike gives his dream of becoming a pop star one last chance.
Mike Kenton is a fabulously realistic character. His self confidence is at an all time low and he finds himself in some rather humiliating situations. His occasional bouts of self pity are perfectly balanced by his self-deprecating inner monologue and his excellent sense of humor. It is easy to visualize him plodding through the early days of unemployment. I found myself commiserating with his feelings of inadequacy as he competes with twenty-somethings for the same job. I completely understood his desire to revisit the unfulfilled dreams of his youth. And I cheered him on as he sought out Faye Lester, the object of his unrequited love from his college days.
Mike’s marriage to Lisa has been faltering for some time, and it completely disintegrates under the strain of Mike’s unemployment and his worsening sense of self-worth. I was thoroughly charmed by his dedication and love for his two young daughters Millie and Katia. He puts a tremendous amount of effort into keeping a stable and loving relationship with them. He does not just want to spend time with his girls; he wants to make their time together special. He puts considerable thought and effort into their outings.
Mike’s friendship with his childhood friend Chaz Lucerno has withstood the test of time. Their lives took very divergent paths, yet they maintain a steadfast and loyal friendship. Chaz is the best type of friend who handles Mike’s asinine assumption with aplomb. Chaz is always there for Mike, in good times and bad, always offering him steadfast and unwavering support.
Equally lovely is Mike’s friendship with Elaine. She keeps him firmly grounded when he is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight. Elaine is the voice of reason in his suddenly chaotic life. She also provides him with some pretty solid professional and personal advice.
The instant stardom from the Eurovision song contest does not change our protagonist. He is still the same insecure man he always was and he does not get too caught up in the media hype. I found this whole part of the story arc quite fascinating and highly entertaining.
Will Mike win the Eurovision contest? Is he destined for fame and fortune? Will he stay with Lisa? Simon Lipson does a beautiful job keeping the reader guessing the answers to these questions and more.
Song in the Wrong Key is a brilliant novel with engaging and likeable characters. I enjoyed it tremendously and I am very much looking forward to his next novel, Stand Up, which is scheduled for release in August.