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The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox
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The Wonder Lover (2015)

by Malcolm Knox

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I found this to be a really silly book about a completely stupid man . The story is quite ridiculous and if any man wants to maintain three separate families in different parts of the world, who cares? I was really surprised that such a respected journalist as Malcolm Knox would write such drivel. ( )
  lesleynicol | Feb 7, 2016 |
John Wonder had not one, not two, but three families separated by vast amounts of
land and ocean. He managed to juggle three completely different lives without each knowing of the others existence. Think of your busy life and multiply that by three. Three dentists, three doctors, three accountants, three solicitors, three mechanics and all had to be kept separate and compartmentalised, all memorised and kept track of. He led a happy contented life until he met “the most beautiful woman in the world” and his life slowly started falling apart.

For me The Wonder Lover was a story with a whole lot of unlikeable characters. John Wonder is as he is depicted, bland and invisible. I couldn’t even get a mental picture of him. I certainly didn’t like him. His three wives were so accepting and complacent, bordering on grateful, that they all annoyed me. The story is told by his six children as one omniscient voice. They spoke of their father with adoration always making excuses for his neglect and behaviour. This annoyed me too as he was never there, well very rarely. Parts of the novel were dark, humorous, interesting and deep while other parts were nonsensical and dragged, repeating over information again and again.

What did I like?
The writing was exquisite and extremely clever. I loved all the facts and trivia interspersed throughout the story.
I liked Cicada, the true manipulator. She had worked man out at an early age and now they simply bored her. They were her toys!
I liked the story of Dorothy O’Oagh, the longest living person, and Menis Economopoulos, the person to be under house arrest for the longest time, it was darkly humorous and gave me quite a few laughs.
The story wrapped up well and the ending was deeply satisfying. It quelled all the annoyances I had with the characters in the novel. I would say this is why my review jumped from 3 to 4 stars.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my uncorrected proof copy to read and review ( )
  Ronnie293 | Oct 22, 2015 |
Australian Fiction ( )
  mccardey | Jul 11, 2015 |
Malcolm Knox is an award-winning journalist and author who has proven that he is adept at writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces. His fifth novel, The Wonder Lover is an adult fable and cautionary tale about secrets and love. It is ultimately a bold book that hits some high notes as well as some flat ones.

The story stars an unlikely protagonist named John Wonder. This is a man who is meticulous and pedantic in his work as an authenticator and information verifier at the Guinness Book of World Records. Yet his personal life is a bizarre love triangle and mess that is based on lies and betrayal.

The bland and sexless Wonder is a bigamist with three different wives and six children (three lots of two named Adam and Stevie). He is a difficult man to like and engage with. And he is very hard to read and it’s even more difficult to get inside his head.

Here, Knox is very ambitious as he writes a story from Wonder’s children’s perspective. It’s a first person, plural voice that is all-seeing, non-judgemental and all-knowing. John Wonder’s women are very interesting. His three wives come to be known as his “true love”, “soul mate” and “redeemer”. There is also a young woman named Cicada who makes Wonder come undone after he falls in love with her.

It’s a shame that Wonder is such a bland, washed-out and pale character. It’s like all of the scaffolding in this book has been devoted to his women. It means that what was a good premise occasionally fails because the prose can be dry at times (to reflect the central character) and at other moments contain some excellent and insightful observations about humans and their folly.

The Wonder Lover is a strange tale that does have some similarities to Knox’s other work in that it explores the inner life of a man. It’s a unique and energetic story with a fresh voice and Knox really does toy with the idea of fiction and conventional storytelling here. But this book does make you wonder exactly who the victim is and at some points question why the reader should even care. It’s sad because the plot itself is completely original and vibrant, meaning the novel could be so much more than what it currently is. ( )
  natsalvo | May 10, 2015 |
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For Jane Palfreyman
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When we were very young, our father sat on the end of our bed to unload his sack of stories.
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This is the story of John Wonder, a man with three families, each one kept  secret from the other, each one containing two children, a boy and a girl. As he travels from family to family in different cities, he works as an Authenticator, verifying world records, confirming facts, setting things straight, while his own life is a teetering tower of astonishing lies and betrayals.
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What's the worst thing that can happen to a man who has not one, not two, but three secret families on the go? He falls in love. This is the story of John Wonder, a man with three families, each one kept secret from the other, each one containing two children, a boy and a girl, each called Adam and Evie. As he travels from family to family in different cities, he works as an authenticator, verifying world records, confirming facts, setting things straight, while his own life is a teetering tower of breathtaking lies and betrayals.… (more)

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