Charm Offensive – William Thacker

Charm Offensive – William Thacker

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We all have established authors which we know and love, but nothing can match the excitement of discovering a wonderful novelist who is just starting out. 

charm offensiveWilliam Thacker, a young London-born author and scriptwriter, recently released his debut novel; Charm Offensive, published 1 March 2014 by Legend Press. Intrigued by the unusual protagonist (and the prospect of a free book), I jumped at the chance to review it.

The story follows retired politician, Joe Street, who is thrown back into the spotlight as a result of a media scandal. Accompanied by a cheap PR consultant, he tries to save his reputation and marriage, rebuilding his relationship with his estranged daughter.

This story of public presence in the media is highly relevant today, where one lie can make or break someone’s world, especially in the world of politics. Thacker has captured this environment where perfect reputation is crucial, as well as our protagonist’s apathy towards it, without these elements coming across as clichéd.

The novel has a slow start, and I found myself constantly waiting for something to happen, unsatisfied with the slow reveal of previous events. Its pace does eventually pick up and the story becomes very engaging – but not until several chapters in.

Thacker’s style of writing made this book read like a script, echoing his experience as a scriptwriter. His language is simple; but that’s all he needs to paint the vivid settings and characters across the page. There are no elaborate descriptions or wasted words, and the way he leads the reader through the scenes and story adds a cinematic feel to the novel. However, as a result of the script-like format, the constant splitting of paragraphs started to irritate me, as the line breaks seem to serve little or no purpose.

What really stood out about this novel was Thacker’s ability to capture the subtleties of human thought and interactions. We see and feel Joe’s awkwardness in the party scene. He feels useless and out of place. His realisation that he can no longer be the man he once was is presented both subtly and effectively.

The character development of Charm Offensive was wonderfully done, as each character slowly discovered and accepted themselves throughout the course of the book. Furthermore, the gradual building of relationships is commendable. Joe’s reunion with his daughter is not all sunshine and butterflies, but this only serves to make it seem more realistic and very well done.

This story is not so much about redemption, but more of reinventing oneself, proving to others and themselves that they can be better people, and reclaim their identities.

I still have mixed feelings about this book, but a worthwhile read overall.

Christy Ku

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