Joe Faber and The Optimists – Gill Oliver

“For months she’d fixed her eyes on the road ahead, and never once allowed herself to look back at what was lost.”

This lovely book, Joe Faber and the Optimists, is written by Gill Oliver and is all about Joe Faber, a wonderful, funny and artistic man. Joe builds models until he suffers a stroke. Fran, Joe’s wife, copes well, but there is also their daughter Jess, a very skilled music player. She plays the fiddle, and her father’s stroke really hits her hard.

Fran thinks of ways to handle the next few days and weeks and comes up with a manifesto. The idea is to be an optimist, to look for positives and celebrate each one. She manages to persuade Jess and Jess’s fiancé Matt, to join in with the manifesto. It’s so poignant to read their little moments of triumph, looking for things to smile about. Joe is funny, and the story is full of hope.

It’s a wonderful book. Image made with BookBrush

There are so many wonderful storylines within this book, like the invitation Jess receives to play in a big music festival in the Shetland Islands. The descriptions are gorgeous, making you feel part of their lives. I love fiddle music, and I could just picture the music Jess played for us, and there are parts where the descriptions are filled with emotion. Even now, I can still imagine the special song, Joe Faber’s Air. Then there are the wedding plans, accompanied by hilarious friends and relatives, all so clearly drawn for us, that you feel you’re wandering around reception halls together.

Matt the fiancé made me laugh; his way of looking at life is interesting, but he’s a lovely guy, and it’s his thoughtfulness and quiet kindness that makes Fran realise that all this time she has been looking ahead, staying positive, but there had been no time to grieve. I loved that part, as it’s so easy to get carried away by circumstances. Matt is so different, and I enjoyed reading how he becomes more and more part of the family.

The book is wonderfully positive and makes you smile and tap your feet along with the reels and music Jess gets out of her fiddle. There are moments of harsh reality as well though, and my heart went out to them all. It meant that I couldn’t put the book down, I needed to read more about their hopes, fears, dreams and struggles. There are the in-laws for example…

Gill Oliver, the author, wrote this book, basing it on her husband’s stroke, and what they went through, and are still going through, as a family. It made this beautiful story even more special. It made me wonder all through the book, Is that what it was like for them? It also meant that the book is detailed and involved, poignant as well as uplifting. As I said, it’s a real page-turner, sweet, funny, heartwarming as well as heartbreaking.

I received a free copy for this Blog Tour. I was under no pressure or obligation to give a positive review. These views are my own personal ideas after reading the book.

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