By Richard Roper
From the back cover:
Andrew's been feeling stuck. For years he's worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that's what his coworkers believe. A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades. Could there be more to life than this?
But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it's time for him to start.
This book made me want to laugh, cry, and hug everyone I know - all at once! Mr. Roper's debut novel is a surprisingly moving story of loneliness and hope. Andrew is a lovable loner who spends his free time listening to Ella Fitzgerald records while building and adding to his train collection. His social circle is limited to his quirky co-workers and the anonymous forum of train enthusiasts that he interacts with online. His days are filled with death - his job is to bury the forgotten and the lonely. And that's his existence until a series of events, including the arrival of the irrepressible Peggy, shakes his world and leaves him wondering: could he had more?
The prose is both hilarious and heartbreaking and the characters a lively and easy to like. Told in a distinctly British style, Anglophiles will especially love this story. But what's best about How Not To Die Alone is the heart, humanity, and hope that it leaves the readers feeling. Death may be the end, but there's an awful lot of living to do in the meantime and that living can be rich and full of love. Highly recommended.