A Life Lived Ridiculously, by Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit
Maxine’s obsession with finding the perfect lighting for her bedroom is taking over her life. She has recently moved into her own flat, but can find no peace of mind there. Feeling unsuccessful in comparison to her younger brother, who is getting married to ‘Miss Perfect’, she has added pressure from her parents, who are keen for her to meet a respectable Jewish man, despite their own difficult relationship.
Maxine’s life changes the day she meets Sam. At first she finds him repulsive. A small, uncharismatic man who her gut instinct tells her she wants nothing more to do with. However, she soon becomes fascinated by him. As Sam creeps further into her life she comes to rely on his approval and fall in love with his company, until her happiness is dependent on being with him. Maxine’s change in her opinion of Sam from disgust to devotion is cleverly and believably written. He becomes a charming, manipulative character, unidentifiable from the person she believed him to be upon their initial meeting. Maxine is convinced of her attraction to him.
Sam’s life is consumed with chaos. His present and his past are a whirlwind of tragedy and misfortune. Having recently relocated to start afresh after his last girlfriend’s death, he now continues to battle with cancer. While Maxine sympathises with him, her friends and family do not entirely trust him. The plot is clever; as Sam’s behaviour becomes increasingly manipulative, the reader may be drawn to side with Maxine, unwilling to doubt Sam’s honesty. Maxine believes him to be misunderstood, a long-suffering man who just needs the support of others around him. However, as the novel progresses, Charbit’s development of Sam’s character then allows an inclination to suspect that he is hiding something.
Lies, manipulation and the difference between reality, truth and pretence are prominent issues throughout the novel. Charbit also covers the idea of clouded judgement and unrequited love. Charbit’s background in neuroscience provides her with the ability to write with knowledge regarding the behaviour of sociopaths and those who suffer from OCD. This novel is insightful, providing the reader with unusual characters, some of which have a combination of quirky behaviours, others which are more sinister, whose lives are woven together through their meeting. Combined with Charbit’s natural storytelling ability, this becomes an engaging read from beginning to end. A Life Lived Ridiculously has a dramatic plotline and unconventional characters that are both dynamic and comic.