Leonard and Hungry Paul

22 March 2020

Review of Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

I got this book because I was drawn in by the first sentence: “Leonard was raised by his mother alone with cheerfully concealed difficulty, his father having died tragically during childbirth.” I then took it home and started reading at page 1 with no idea of the genre, the style, or anything else. This was a gamble — one which paid off in this case.

This is a debut novel about two adult male friends going about their ordinary lives. It’s such a restful book that I initially wondered if it might be almost too easy to read but soon realized that it’s imbued with subtle wit and wisdom and interesting turns of phrase, which made it very enjoyable. I also enjoyed the way that the author shows how delight, pathos, and long-term consequences can arise from everyday events such as a fire drill. The plotting is fairly straightforward, so it won’t suit people who insist on lots of conflict and twists and turns and flashbacks. But it will be appreciated by people with a taste for understated elegance.