Published: 01/07/2013
ISBN: 9781783060016
eISBN: 9781783069774
Format: Paperback/eBook



'Unputdownable. An outstanding novel of love, courage and dangerous intrigue.'
Margaret Kaine

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Andrew JH Sharp is a writer and medical doctor. His first novel won the 2010 Waverton Good Read Award and was shortlisted for 2011 International Rubery Book Award.... read more

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Fortunate
by Andrew JH Sharp

She runs her finger carefully and slowly under the words as if she’s translating a sacred text: ‘The day comes when they have to declare the great Yes or the great No. … that no … drags him down all his life.’ Something gives way in her. A snapping stay. A crack in an ice field. She feels herself falling into a white silence. In the vast quiet she makes her choice.

Beth Jenkins is a young locum doctor and prides herself on helping her patients reframe the story of their lives – nudging them towards more optimistic narratives – but her own story is stuck. Her husband has had a stroke, disastrously altering his personality, and she’s trapped in a life of duty and loneliness. Beth is semi-bereaved and will be for decades. On the other hand she knows, in theory, that there are millions of lives possible to live. Could it be that, by a quirk of fate, she’s in the wrong life? Should she flee, make a new start?

It would have to be somewhere far away, somewhere so out of the way and hazardous that no one would risk looking for her – somewhere like Zimbabwe, where she might find the person (part real, part fantasy) she’s named Safari Man. But she has a career, of sorts, has responsibilities and she’s twenty-eight-and-a-half – far too old to run away from home. Then she comes across a poem: ‘The day comes when they have to declare the great Yes.’ She makes her choice...

Fortunate is an intelligent, moving and often humorous novel with a gripping plot about lost and re-found love, our relationship to the land we live on, and of how to defy fate. It will appeal to lovers of contemporary fiction, lovers of stories set in Africa, lovers of romance and adventure and lovers of a good read. Andrew has been inspired by a number of authors, including Cormac McCarthy, Michael Cunningham, Arundhati Roy, Anne Tyler and Sebastian Faulks.

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I've received several requests to attend book groups. I'm always delighted to accept (diary permitting) as it's a wonderful way to engage with readers. I give a short talk and then join in the discussion. I don't charge except travel expense if travelling out of Leicestershire.
I explore themes and events relating to the novel on a blog on Goodreads

http://www.andrewjhsharp.co.uk

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I finished Fortunate in record time, simply because I found it unputdownable. I gained so much enjoyment, escapism, and a fascinating insight into Zimbabwe and its people. Brilliantly written, it’s an outstanding novel of love, courage and dangerous intrigue.

by Margaret Kaine


The plot of Fortunate ... pulled me forward; I wanted to know what happened next. It’s ultimately a story about identity and redemption, but along the way we’re treated to much more ... It’s a book that would make a smooth transition into a film if the opportunity ever arises: it has a fast-moving pace, a beautiful setting, vivid characters, all unified by the mission that our heroine must complete.

From www.greatzimbabweguide.com

by Elizabeth Norton


This book is a stealthy, sunburnt cautery, powered by words that implode even as they unfold. Line by line they cleave the DNA of the characters away from the pages to transcribe their very souls. The pages are the genome of a dark world.

Andrew Sharp (a skin cancer surgeon and ex GP) laces the narrative with precise medical terminology and doctor patient happenstance, tinged, I venture, with a wistful longing for past medical practice. But as it weaves its tale the coloured medical idiom are the warp that endows the main characters with a true complexion.

The tale purrs along, and as it unfolds the characters - like real people - are close enough to touch yet at the same time distant and unfathomable.

Initially the twists and turns are slow and soft but the effect is angular and zigzagonal. The strata erode and bleed away like the sun coming up on a slow dawn - but a dawn that darkens instead of effusing a warm Zimbabwean light.
One finds oneself drifting into backwaters of swirling pools, rich with glimpses of thoughts and human traits eternal. Even as they drive the story on, one is reluctant to leave their embrace.

I am not a lover of fiction but by chapter 10 it had me under its spell. Not engrossed, or enthralled but spell-bound! With not an improbable plot line to break the spell.

The plot accelerates without pause for breath, but without losing its poetic embrace - “a fingernail clip of moon nibbled by a cloud”

But despite the warm text and Zimbabwe heat, the story is starting to ache with a cold and deadly apprehension. Even the main character now hesitates to put on foot in front of the other.

The plot twists tighter and tighter and rings ugly thoughts to belie these sensitive words.

The scenes are of land and soil and belonging. One can feel the book crumbling away in one’s hands as the tilth of the words are sifted into a loam from home.

It is about relations that are deep and recursive.

You will have noticed that I have not described the characters, I've not detailed the plot, and of course I have not told you the ending. So a delicacy awaits!

By the end of the book every raw emotion has been grazed bare, every tear drawn into the dry soil. And when there are no more tears left to fall – the spirit of the land is sublimated into the land of the spirit without a tear to stain the page.

The postscript is a kaleidoscope of threads that are finally woven into a handsome linen that Andrew Sharp lays gently upon a warm rock contentment.

Jim Young

by Jim Young


 

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