CHOSEN FOR DAILY MAIL'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2020
'Touching and often hilarious... A truly joyful read'
Press & Journal
Danny Malooley's life is falling apart.
He's a single parent with an eleven-year-old son, Will, who hasn't spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash fourteen months ago. He's being pursued by a dodgy landlord for unpaid rent and he's just lost his job. Struggling to find work, and desperate for money, Danny decides to do what anyone in his position would do.
He becomes a dancing panda.
After seeing street performers in his local park raking it in, he spends his last fiver on a costume... but the humiliation is worth it when Will finally speaks to him for the first time since his mother's death. The problem is Will doesn't know that the panda is in fact his father, and Danny doesn't want to reveal his true identity in case Will stops talking again.
But Danny can't keep up the ruse forever...
Woman & Home
A surprising, laugh-out-loud and uplifting story of a father and son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances. For fans of Nick Hornby, Mike Gayle and Jojo Moyes.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 22 members
Gorgeous read. I have absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend this to other readers. I have devoured this in just two hours it has been a great read.
For a debut novel, Keeping Mum is absolutely amazing. Such a truly wonderful story it had me hooked from the start. Danny Malooley is a character that you will instantly fall in love with. He's a hapless man, with his life practically falling around at his feet. Fourteen months ago the centre of his world died in a car crash. His wife Liz, his childhood sweetheart, the mother of his son. When Liz died a part of Will died that day too. At the centre of this story is a heartbreaking plotline. A man has lost the love of his life. A son has lost his mother. Neither know how to deal with their grief, and this pushes them apart. Will hasn't spoken since his mother died, and Danny has found this hard. However, despite the heartache. This story is uplifting and bloody hilarious. I laughed so much at some of the scrapes Danny got himself into. And, what made this book more charming were the secondary characters that were involved in Danny and Will's life. Ivan, Ivana and Yuri are amazing. If there's ever people that you need in your life to pick you up and make you feel good, or just to be there to protect you. It's Ivan and his family. It may not be conventional their way of helping or imparting words of wisdom, but my word they were a light relief. Even Reg and his sidekick Dent, who were terrorising poor Danny for rent money. Cue the tying him up and threatening him with a claw hammer. Sounds scary? Yes. But, the way Gould Bourn writes it just makes you smile. There are times when you read a book you can just imagine how it would play out as a film. I would love to see Keeping Mum on the big screen. I'd love to see the dancing panda get beat up by the Ukrainians. I'd love to see El Magnifico wearing his dressing gown. I'd love to see The Shark. I could sit here all day and tell you about the scenes in this book that had me smiling and chuckling away to myself. But, that would spoil the enjoyment for you. Keeping Mum will have you smiling from ear to ear. It's a book that will cheer you up no end!
Danny and Will have a few problems! What a lovely, lovely story Keeping Mum is. Before commenting on the narrative, I just need to say how apt the title is as Will elects not to speak after the death of Liz, his Mum, but as important is both Will and Danny's desire to keep Liz's memory alive. They need to Keep Mum. Similarly, the cover has incredible poignancy once the book is read. I can't say too much why as it would spoil the pleasure of the read, but that crumpled note book page is so fitting! I hadn't quite expected Keeping Mum to be as funny as it is. I rarely laugh aloud when I'm reading but James Gould-Bourn elicited several giggles along the way so that I felt uplifted and heartened as a result. There's a fast pace with unlikely events that feel convincing and absolutely right for Danny's life as it spirals out of control. With street performances, menacing landlords and sleazy dance clubs James Gould-Bourn takes the reader into places and situations they probably wouldn't normally encounter and does so with verve and skill in a hugely entertaining manner. I loved the cast of characters. Although she's dead, it is Liz who is the catalyst for all the action and readers get a strong sense of who she is and why Danny and Will are as they are. There are those more minor people like the street performers, Mo, Reg and Mr Dent who provide a colourful backdrop, but it is Danny, Will, Krystal and Ivan who are just perfect creations. James Gould-Brown's use of naturalistic dialogue, choice expletives, clear and vivid descriptions and the occasional touch of violence creates a visual and auditory journey that the reader takes alongside Danny in Keeping Mum. However, although the characters are real and engaging, and the plot funny and entertaining, there is so much more to Keeping Mum than might be imagined and it is this added depth that made the book so appealing to me. The relationship between Danny and Will, their estrangement, their grief and their real underlying love for one another all combine into a touching and affecting read. With themes of bullying, self-worth, friendship, striving for the best and being true to yourself, Keeping Mum is a compelling and poignant tale as well as a diverting and amusing one. There's a fabulous balance in the writing here too so that the narrative feels modern and yet timeless. I really loved Keeping Mum. The quality of the writing, the depth of theme and the brilliant characterisation all combine into a smashing book that touches the reader and leaves them feeling happy and satisfied. What could be better?
A beautiful, poignant tale of love, loss, grief, reconnecting and love between a heartbroken father and son. I loved that the story made me burst out laughing one minute and then wipe a tear away the next. Solid writing for a debut novel. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.