First-time author Charles Chadwick, 72, took 28 years to complete It's All Right Now, writing on the weekends while working full time as a British civil servant. The result is a novel in the form of a journal kept by a perceptive and hilariously unguarded middle-class Brit, Tom Ripple, who decides to simply record his thoughts about the world around him. "I'm not sure what the point of this is," Ripple writes at the beginning. "We shall have to see. It may take quite a time." That's for sure. The book is nearly 700 pages and spans decades. But by the time it's over, Chadwick has caringly laid bare the mind of a surprisingly decent chump who has a remarkable capacity to do the right thing despite himself.
Ripple isn't the kind of hero you typically find in fiction. He holds a drab job in "information retrieval" and speaks to his kids using bad puns. His journal consists of little but people coming and going, new homes, doctor's visits, political conversations, a few deaths, a divorce and one false-start romance. What raises it above the mundane is Ripple's voice. He's snidely funny and shamelessly open, a gabby tour guide who steals the show. So plan to read this book the way Ripple lives: in no rush. His experiences slowly build on each other until you get a vivid picture of how one unfashionable, terribly pun-ny man can end up touching the lives around him, including the readers' own.