Apr 16, 2012
Review: The Baggage Handler by Colin Browne (Kindle Edition)
Londoner, Martin White is anti-social and he prefers it that way. He even goes out of his way to maintain his solitary existence. His job as a writer seems to benefit from his lack of social interaction. Martin writes a column called The Shallow Review of Books that has a sort of cult following. It isn't your average mainstream book reviewing column. He has people that he calls the 'Peepers' that he relies on for much of the content for his reviews. This approach works as long as he follows the rules, the most important being: Don't get involved with the Peepers. Keep the encounters brief and don't talk about anything personal.
So far, this approach has worked very well and has made The Shallow Review of Books a success. Although Martin doesn't have any relationships, he is known for handing out advice to his fellow workers. His advice seems to be helpful and people keep coming to him for advice, thus earning him the nickname, The Baggage Handler. Martin certainly doesn't go out looking for people to solve problems for but there is never a shortage of advice being doled out. In Martin's way of thinking, hearing all the problems that his co-workers have in their lives just makes him even more sure that he is happy living his solitary, problem free life.
That is until the day he notices the new girl at the office. Her name is Kasia, she's Polish and Martin falls in love with her at first sight. But Kasia tells Martin straight up that she is not looking for, nor does she want a relationship - especially with a co-worker. So Martin has his work cut out for him. This is completely out of character for The Baggage Handler and as the other office members take notice of Martin's obvious tactics to get Kasia's attention, what ensues is a bumpy, awkward, sometimes hard to watch game of cat and mouse with the ultimate prize being love.
I was initially drawn to this book after reading (and loving) Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman and really enjoying the male perspective on love. This book had been compared to it so I was intrigued.
Martin is a likeable character and his backwardness was charming to me. When he fell for Kasia, he fell hard and wholeheartedly. He was trying the best he knew how and I began rooting for him right away. Kasia, on the other hand, had her own issues and made him work for every inch of ground he was to make towards her. Most of the time, Martin would take one step forward and two steps back. In the many times that he tried to make headway with her, I felt Kasia was being too hard on him, but that made him try just that much harder.
The tribulations that Martin went through to win Kasia's love were sometimes funny and sometimes just plain sad. There were times I just shook my head. Ironically, Martin soon became the one seeking advice because, clearly, nothing that he did was working. Being the Baggage Handler and solving other peoples' problems did not prepare or help him in his own life. Along with his neighbor, Rupert, I also enjoyed the character of Isabel, Martin's mother, who would visit from France. Their back and forth bantering was comical and Browne's genius at making her a successful lawyer only made their conversations more combative, but in an insightful way.
All in all, THE BAGGAGE HANDLER is an entertaining read and I did enjoy Martin's character. I truly wanted him to win the girl. That said, near the end, I was starting to grow weary of the push and pull from Kasia, even though she was reacting to Martin's sometimes moronic moves. Poor guy, he just didn't know better. There is a definite message in the story though: No matter how good you think you are at giving other people advice, it doesn't necessarily make you equipped to handle obstacles that appear in your own life. As a debut novel I think THE BAGGAGE HANDLER was a success and I think Colin Browne has a unique writing style that will grow and be better with each new book. He is someone I will be on the lookout for in the future.
THE BAGGAGE HANDLER
Author: Colin Browne
Published: January 2012
Size: 503 KB
Source: Colin Browne