Troubador Melting in the Middle

Released: 28/11/2020

ISBN: 9781800460645

eISBN: 9781800468061

Format: Paperback/eBook

Review this Book

Melting in the Middle


Long-listed for the Exeter Novel Prize, Melting in the Middle is a literary comedy about redemption and second chances, played out amid the madness of modern life.

For Stephen Carreras, life is in turmoil. His career with Britain’s worst chocolate company is heading for the rocks when it’s taken over by US confectionery giant Schmaltz. He’s just turned forty, he’s messed up on marriage and is struggling to keep a toehold in the lives of his monosyllabic teenage children.

Then he meets Rachel, who dances to a very different beat. She challenges him to do good among the carnage that surrounds him. But to do so, he must confront his past and work out all over again what really matters…

Praise for Melting in the Middle

 “The dialogue zips along at a pace that keeps the reader on their toes without running out of breath” 
  Ian McMillan, poet, author and presenter of The Verb on BBC Radio 3 

 “Whip-smart funny and brilliantly observed. Howden is a great storyteller, turning recognisable personalities and corporate events into sharp and clever comedy.” 
Louise Fein, author of People Like Us  

“I was completely charmed. Funny, poignant and uplifting.” 
Cathie Hartigan, author of Notes From The Lost

I enjoyed Melting in the Middle very much. It captures the absurdities of business life well, and combines them with the ups and downs of home life. It reminded me of the TV series "Cold Feet" and Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim" - sharp dialogue and lots of laughter.

by Andrew

Anyone who has experienced corporate life will recognise the political machinations, the absurd office politics and odious characters that our hero Stephen has to deal with in his battle to do the right thing.

It’s a charming, funny book, but at its heart, Melting in the Middle is a love story. I heartily recommend it.

by Tony Franco

I rarely read a book in one sitting but I did with this thought provoking & amusing novel.

Beyond straight entertainment, there are many reasons why you might want to read "Melting in the Middle"...

... Do you work in marketing or advertising? Did you enjoy Mad Men? Are you a parent? Are you religious, atheist or agnostic? Are you wondering what’s next in your life? ...

Go for it, enjoy!

by James Boulton

This is a fantastic read. A completely absorbing story with some wonderful characters. Truly enjoyable!

by Clare

If like me you remember and are saddened by what happened to Jacob's Club biscuit, you will understand how important chocolate bars are in the national psyche. They are a serious business indeed and are not to be mucked about with. Andy Howden's novel takes a light-hearted and humourous swipe at the marketing shenanigans revolving around such a venture. But athough choccy bars provide the backdrop, the novel is really about human relationships. Finding what is lost and having to make life-changing decisions. This novel is a joy to read. The characters are very real and you can't help but wonder what happens to them after reading the last page. Very readable and highly recommended.

by LyndonR

This is such a page turner, laugh out loud funny and also very, very touching. You are rooting for Steven from the very beginning.

by Kate

I loved this book! The characters are beautifully flawed and are believable - all of us will spot people from our working lives in there! Steven's search for healing, wholeness and meaning is one which is relatable and the way his relationships begin to work together is touching and tender. There is humour and enough cynacism to stop it becoming sickly sweet but it ultimately is a tale of right winning over wrong and how redemption is possible.

by Kerry Thomas

Brilliant. I couldn't put it down. The story just carries you along as it's so well written. Highly recommended!

by William Lines

I loved this book! It is totally gripping from page 1. Both hilarious and thought provoking about what's important in life. I missed it when I'd finished..

by Laura M

The author’s first novel describes the electrifying impact of an American takeover of a British company on the victim's corporate culture, the many stresses this imposes on the latter with a romantic theme woven through the mayhem. Andy Howden maintains the story's pace, handles dialogue with impressive confidence and revolves locations, personalities and subplots with an assured touch. This book is written in a delightful and easy style that will bring much pleasure to readers. I keenly await the author’s next book.

by Richard Barber

A lively and engaging story full of vivid and often amusing characters. It begins in the season of Advent - a time of reflection and anticipation, giving a sombre background to the struggles of Stephen, the main character as he battles through the darkness of his own situation, but is drawn towards a glimmer of light which might help steer him towards the chance of a brighter future. An uplifting and memorable story. I would highly recommend it.

by Joanna Horner

I loved Melting in the Middle.
The protagonist, Stephen Carreras, is very engaging and likeable and I wanted to keep turning the pages to see what would happen to him and the other characters.
Very funny in parts, to the point of making me "LOL," the novel also addresses big themes such as family, faith and redemption.
Anyone who has worked in an office will identify with some of the scenarios, described in highly entertaining fashion, although the appeal of Melting in the Middle is not limited to those who have experienced office and/or corporate life.
In short, I urge you to read this book and immerse yourself in its humour and its humanity.

by Michele Vincent

This an impressive first novel. As always with first novels the acid test is do you want to read the next one and the answer is emphatically yes. The key elements of a novel are all attempted and undertaken with aplomb: plot, character, relationships, place and social settings. It also has work as a main theme which is surprisingly less common given its importance in most people's lives. Much of this is satirical but it is a satire that is rooted in reality, avoids crude caricature and fits neatly with the realism of the rest of the book. The novel also has a moral purpose, best exemplified by an entreaty from one of the main characters (you have to read it to find out what it is).

Particularly impressive is the dialogue which is convincing, illuminates character and moves on the plot. Also, unlike some irritating novels, it is always clear who is speaking. My only minor criticism is that I could have done without a certain football commentator.

Buy it, read it and then buy it for friends and family.

by Geoff Smith

This book perfectly captures the reality of just trying to keep your head above water when everything around you seems to be sinking. Stephen is just trying to make it now that his personal life has fallen apart, his kids are teenagers so that feels like a lost cause for the next few years, and now a corporate take over is threatening what little stability he felt he had at work. Howden is an amazing storyteller and humorist and I can't wait to read more of their work.

by NetGalley review

Set against the backdrop of a modern day "David and Goliath" story, a middle management, middle aged man must come to terms with changes not only in his business life but in his personal life. Will he succeed - only time - and his persistence - will tell, especially when a spanner, in the form of an enigmatic and contradictory young woman, is thrown in for good measure.

This slow moving tale of one man's attempts to keep his life and career afloat makes for interesting read. At times, it almost seemed as though the workplace was being used a metaphor for some sort of dystopian society where it was a case of survival of the fittest (maybe I am reading too much into something that is not there).

I would not have normally picked this up but was offered a complimentary review copy, and I did enjoy reading it.

by NetGalley review

A wonderfully witty and entertaining book, tackling some of those mid-life struggles.

I honestly don’t read a huge number of novels, but this was recommended to me so I thought I’d take some time over Christmas and New Year, and am so glad I did. I have already recommended it to my wife who has now recommended it to her book club! It approaches some really interesting areas, and weaves them seamlessly in the life of Stephen as he struggles with work, relationships, bullying, family, management chaos and a new love interest. It’s equally funny and thought-provoking, and I particularly enjoyed Stephen’s experiences in the workplace – sections pertaining to team-building and management speak certainly rang some familiar bells! Thoroughly enjoyable, morally intriguing and avoids easy stereotypes whilst still building very recognisable characters. Highly recommended.

by Philip

Andy Howden has written a perceptive and amusing novel exploring the clash between the hard headed world of corporate business and the softer but no less demanding worlds of Christian activism and belief. It kept me engaged throughout, though perhaps it did seem to turn out rather too nicely at the end. See what you think.

by Chris

A warm and sumptuous read with a soft centre!

I really enjoyed the flow of the book, with great characters that you can relate to. This is a fantastic insight into corporate life, running alongside the ups and downs of modern day parenting and a few moral conflicts along the way. Definitely worth a read and a great first novel.

by jason coleman

Andy Howden

Andy Howden grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and read English Literature at the University of Sheffield before setting out on a career in market research which took him to London, Paris and Hampton Wick. He has worked for a number of companies, not all of them entirely sane.

Melting in the Middle is his first novel, started on a MA in Creative Writing at St. Mary's University, and was long-listed for the Exeter Novel Award.

Andy lives in South West London with his wife and has two grown up children who have left home but fortunately keep popping back to see him.

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