London, Orionm 2012, 261p
Those readers of this blog who know me will tell you that I have a little bit of a thing for Michael Palin. It's something about being smart and funny. Also, I think he's a very handsome man. And I do not care about the age difference.
Therefore, I loved reading his fiction. You could really hear his voice and his experiences coming through the pages. The Truth is about Keith Mabbut, a writer who is commissioned to tell the story of philanthropist, Hamish Melville.
Mabbut, being slightly older than most literary protagonists, reminds me of Palin - as I read, I was imagining lovely Michael. He's educated and liberal and probably pretty dashing. Palin draws on his years of traveling for this novel, as Mabbut takes the reader with him around India, Russia and Scotland.
Once a prize-winning journalist, Mabbut wants to reveal the truth about Hamish Melville - not an easy task, it seems, as Melville is a hard man to track down. He dislikes being interviewed and is suspicious of the arrival of Mabbut. Meanwhile, Mabbut's publishers have different ideas about what constitutes "the truth".
The novel is enhanced by the events of Mabbut's personal life. We learn about his grown up children and his relationship with his wife, from whom he is separated. I wouldn't say the plot is ground-breaking or challenging, but it made for a nice, slow read. It was a refreshing break from the dramatic action stories and hormonal teenagers I have been reading about recently.
And as it is coming up to Christmas, might I suggest it would make a lovely gift.