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Review by Suze
Simon Haines used to love studying and languages were his primary interest when he was still at university. However, he's also loved the idea of a big salary for many years and is striving to make millions as a partner of Fiennes & Plunkett, a prestigious law firm in London. The battle to be the chosen one at the firm has finally come to an end and Simon travels to Havana to rest and wait until he'll receive the phone call he's been waiting for for years. In Havana Simon finally has the time to think about what working for the firm actually means, what he's given up to reach his ultimate goal and if it was worth it to fight for the partnership. Is it a good idea for Simon to be alone in a country he doesn't know very well and will he get the news he's so desperately hoping for or have his efforts all been in vain?
Being Simon Haines is an impressive story. It reads like a memoir, especially in the beginning it felt like I was reading a non-fiction book, which is something I really loved. Simon works, drinks, works some more and then he drinks again and works. He hardly ever sleeps, only when he can't go without it any longer. He's never home and he's spending more hours in the office than anywhere else. He doesn't spend time with his girlfriend, friends and family. He just works. He's extremely intelligent and I could understand his drive to reach the top, but I also felt pity for him because of everything he's missing out on and is giving up for the sake of his career and millions on his bank account. Is money the most important thing there is in life and is work actually more important than spending time with your loved ones? It's something Simon needs to figure out and being in Havana gives him plenty of time to think. Tom Vaughan MacAulay skillfully describes Simon's journey. His past, thoughts and feelings are complex and multilayered, which made his story incredibly interesting for me.
Simon Haines doesn't think about the process, he's focused on the result. He does everything he can to reach his goals. This determination could be admirable, but in this case it's going far. I felt sad for him at times, was fascinated by his story and enjoyed reading about his colleagues, the way the law firm works and the challenges he has to face. His story captivated me from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. The ending is surprising and very fitting. Tom Vaughan MacAulay's descriptions of the law firm itself, Simon's character, his university years, his relationships and the defining moments of his life are vivid, spot-on and very well thought through. The story is thought-provoking and intriguing. I absolutely loved this original and special book and highly recommend it.
If you love reading original fictional memoirs you will definitely like Being Simon Haines.
About Tom Vaughan MacAulay
Tom Vaughan MacAulay lives in North London and is in the process of completing his second novel.