Fantasy Is Page Turner despite Therapeutic Advice; A Round-Up of New Book Releases Includes a Juggler, a Nun and an Empress

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Byline: Anthony Looch

The Juggler, by Sebastian Beaumont, published by Myrmidon, pounds 7.99 I RARELY view novels in gender terms, but I reckon women aren't really novelist Sebastian Beaumont's target readership.

The Juggler is a bit of a male fantasy about a bloke who leaves his loveless marriage and baby son and makes a slightly nervy leap into the unknown.

The catalyst to Mark's life change is being handed a bag containing pounds 40,000 by a stranger as he leaves a comedy club, presenting him with the classic "someone else's money" dilemma.

Beaumont's second book, The Juggler is a sequel to his debut Thirteen, about a Brighton taxi driver, and also features both literal and psychological journeys. Armed with the swag bag, dreary old Mark is galvanised into chucking in his job, abandoning his unfaithful wife and heading for an unnamed South Coast seaside town.

Here begin his adventures with a heart of gold lap-dancer, a wise old man, a drug dealer, a comedian, the mysterious juggler and other characters (some less cliched than others).

In some ways The Juggler is a self-help book masquerading as a novel; Mark is the naive, unhappy and unworldly hero trying to make sense of the universe and his place in it. To help him along are characters with all sorts of cod-philosophical advice such as "be aware of yourself" or "perhaps you have to lose everything, before something else can really start to take its place".

Not surprisingly in our happiness-obsessed age, Mark realises that he has spent his life waiting for things to happen and for happiness to arrive. So, a moment of revelation comes when he is told: "Happiness often comes at precisely the point that life seems most uncertain." The author's day job is a psychotherapeutic counsellor, so that explains the strong (if a little wearing) therapy influence. That said, this journey of discovery is a well-written, nicely constructed page turner, beautifully produced by Newcastle's Myrmidon. …