Vivian’s Couch: Michael Obiora

Good morning readers, and happy Valentines day to you all. I’m having a wonderfully lazy morning watching films in bed with Lola and writing you this lovely review. I was tempted to review something romantic to fit the theme of today but instead decided to bring you something a little more real. Instead I’m bringing you something gritty, honest, shocking and a sophisticated read. Perfect for a lazy Saturday morning.

Kieran Ledley is the world’s most expensive football player, he is also one half of glamour couple “Kier-rissa,” and his step-brother is about to be released from prison. Freddie Abani is the MP for Woundham, who was touted as London’s potential first black Mayor – until the summer riots. Rupal Advani is a former policewoman and is now a marijuana addict. Gemma and her struggling filmmaker husband Pete Newman, are trying to save their marriage. Vivian Moses is a therapist, and they all have her in common.

So the premise is overall simplistic, the book tackles the different stories of a group of people including the World’s most expensive and sought after footballer and a former police officer who is finding it difficult to move on and is turning to drugs to relieve the stress. It also features a couple who’s relationship is in its last lease of life and an MP who is seeking to become London’s first black mayor however is struggling to come to terms with his father leaving him when he was younger. It’s a diverse bunch but they all have one thing in common and that is Vivian’s couch. A therapist who is also dealing with her own internal struggles.

What I really liked about this is that it gets straight into the actions, it doesn’t wait or hold back at all. We are immediately thrown in and have to quickly adjust to the pace of this well thought through story. We are introduced to the characters one by one by their sessions with Vivian, each dated differently as to add different time zones and to allow us to get to know the characters and their back stories. It’s very much a documentary style book allowing us to have an almost crude insight into the lives of the people who find themselves spilling their secrets to Vivian. By mixing the lives of both ordinary people and celebrities, it allows for an extensive look how different choices, good and bad lead to our current situations in life.

In terms of characters each is laden with many different characteristics; Vivian is strong on the outside but we learn that she is also dealing with her own demons due to addiction and a terrible relationship with her now ex-husband. Gemma and Pete are contrasting in almost every way possible, she is possessive and jealous whilst he appears to have lost the will to live causing immense friction. Kieran is struggling with his life in the limelight and being pulled in every direction whilst trying to hide from the increasing media attention. I could go on, each is well presented and thought through to make the interweaving stories as real as possible.

I think the main reason I enjoyed this book so much was because although ultimately a fiction book it really felt like each of the stories could be on going right now. It felt like a glimpse into a secret world and I felt I could relate many of the stories told to events happening in the harsh modern world that we currently live in. Another thing to note is that I really liked the cover, it is simple and yet striking, it really gives an insight into what the book is going to cover which was lovely. The theme of diversity was really strong throughout but handled incredibly well to help bring the city to life.

This is not a happy story, but instead a real reflection of modern day life, and I loved it for that.

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