The Naked Storyteller was the first novel I read on my Kindle. Baring in mind that I’ve had it since, ooh, 2011, it needed quite a book to get me reading. Thank God this came along. In a very cliché manner, right from page 1 I was hooked.
The protagonist, grumpy, overweight, life-hating Harry Tyke, ‘lovingly’ nicknamed ‘Beast’ by his students, isn’t perhaps the most obvious candidate for this role. In fact, he’s the least obvious. But Harry has one thing that means he is suited: his character wants to change.
Harry Tyke is on the verge of a mid-life crisis. Living in a house he doesn’t want, doing a job he doesn’t like and teaching rude, arrogant, screen-addicted kids, there’s more that can be changed than can’t be. Cue Olga: a sexy, teacher-turned-storyteller, with her workshop ‘The Naked Storyteller’. Dragged along by his friend, the charming James, Harry’s world suddenly erupts with passion, stories and red high heels.
Aside from Harry, as soon as he appeared on the page, I fell in love with his ‘sidekick’, James. Charming, clever and caring, he helped Harry throughout the novel, even providing life-changing comments which caused Harry to do drastic things. But James wasn’t the only one who was helped – on a trip to see Harry abroad, James meets…ah, but that’d be telling!
Olga, with her red, shiny heels, is the obvious love-interest. She’s the one who starts off the whole naked storytelling malarky, and, although I liked the concept of her, the actual character annoyed me. I found her whiny, and too quick to cry. Don’t get me wrong, everything else about her was great – the ideas she came up with, the acceptance in her heart – but she seemed to cry rather a lot. However, I liked how Thomas showed Harry’s different personalities with Olga and James; character development, eh?
Going back to the naked storytelling thing, I absolutely love the idea. I have never heard of it before, and I wish I had teachers like Harry who would do that for their students (hell, I wish I had FRIENDS who would do that with me!). It seems like such a fun, free thing to do; probably something every person should do at least once in their lifetime.
During the course of The Naked Storyteller, Thomas raises some important issues – for example, the fact that, in increasing numbers, kids and adults alike are becoming screen-obsessed. Even as I write this longhand, I check my phone for the time instead of the clock to my left. Although she pokes fun at the problems arisen – such as teacher strikes – Thomas does it in such a gentle, comedic way, you really can’t negatively criticise it. Furthermore, she offers solutions to the problems – the storytelling for example –and you can’t help but agree.
The essence of this book is to not give up on your dream, and the fact that it’s never too late to try. With so many people these days working in jobs they hate, this message is so important. Have you ever hauled yourself out of bed in the morning, glaring at your sleep-deprived reflection, dragging your feet into work, grunting instead of offering the usual, human response? Perhaps this book is for you.
Aside from the issues raised and characters, Thomas’ writing style is addictive and very moreish. The story is told in such a way that you forget you’re reading and begin to live it. Let me put this into perspective: I’ve been stuck on one book for a month, and The Naked Storyteller took me 4 days to read. 4. Days. I honestly struggled to put it down and am now writing this with very tired eyes. I even took it to my mum’s birthday lunch (don’t worry, I didn’t read it at the table!).
In conclusion? I absolutely completely and utterly recommend this book. And if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and buy myself a sledgehammer.
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