Book Review: The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul TordayPaul Torday is the writer of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which I enjoyed a lot. Even better was his The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce. So when my friend had The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers I was keen to borrow it.

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers: What it was about

The book’s main character is Hector Chetwode-Talbot. He is working as a salesperson for a hedge fund in London and his main task is to get friends and acquaintances to invest money in the fund (“We normally start at 1 million pounds”).

He has a house in the North of England, a farm that he inherited, and he is very much in like with his cousin Harriet, who lives in France.

On holiday in France, Hector and his friend Henry meet another Englishman, Charlie Summers. Charlie is a man of many jobs, none of which have let to the fortune he is hoping for. Currently, he’s selling Japanese dog food.

Charlie shows up in Hector’s life from time to time and Hector feels sorry for him and helps him out. Eventually, Charlie will make the ultimate sacrifice to help Hector in return.

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers: What I thought

This book was great fun to read. It started off with a lot of financial bla-bla about Hector and his hedge fund, but soon it became an interesting story about Hector, his friend Henry, and Charlie Summers.

The book was very well written in an uplifting tone. Hector, with his double-barrelled name and his inheritance in the North of England, was quite a normal person, nothing too snobbish. He was very honest about his doubts of the company he was working for and his love for cousin Harriet.

Charlie Summers is the sort of man you can do without. In fact, if you do meet him, he’ll probably stick around, asking whether he can borrow a small amount of money and getting himself a bed for the night at your house.

Because Charlie Summers was really more of a background character, he didn’t get annoying. Hector seemed to do a good job taking care of Charlie in such a way that Charlier didn’t become too much of a bother.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the fate of Charlie. Was this really the only way he could make his life worthwhile? Anyway, the book is good for a few days of fun reading.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: borrowed it from a friend

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 282

First published: 2010

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extra: Also check out my review of The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

8 Responses to Book Review: The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday

  1. Joanna says:

    I’ve heard of the author but not read any of his books yet. Great review Judith, it makes the writing sound clear and approachable. It sounds pleasant!

  2. Nadine Nys says:

    Sounds a pleasant read. The author’s name sounds familiar, but I can’t recall any of his other books. I will look it up on the internet.

  3. I just read Salmon Fishing in the Yemen a few weeks ago (haven’t reviewed it yet). I am interested to read more of his books.

  4. LindyLouMac says:

    My husband has read the previous novels, sounds like I have some catching up to do. Oh so many books……

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