Cover Image: How Not to Die Alone

How Not to Die Alone

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The premise of How Not To Die Alone is telegraphed early by the title. I have to say that Richard Roper kept the promise of the premise.  The hero is complex and layered with secrets that slowly reveal throughout the novel.  I really appreciated the respect (even with humor) with which Mr. Roper treated the occupation of the hero.  This book was not predictable, which made it an engaging read.  I would definitely like to read more from Richard Roper. 
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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3 stars for this book.

For starters, this book felt very long. Some of it was really funny, some of it felt irrelevant. 

The book centers around Andrew, a single socially awkward Londoner who likes model trains and has no friends. He was the strange job of going to people’s homes after they die and looking for their next of kin. One day he gets a new coworker named Peggy. As he begins falling in love with her, he starts slowly changing and opening up to the world around me. 

For fans of Eleanor oliphant, this book is a suitable substitute.
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This novel will inevitably be compared to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FIne. And I get it.....they both feature quirky protagonists, socially awkward situations and a painfully lonely existence. I very much enjoyed the book, but I loved Eleanor and am still missing her. I found How Not to Die Alone to be a charming, hopeful story. 

Andrew has an unusual job:  When someone dies alone, he goes into their homes to search for clues to track down family and friends or evidence of pay for their funeral. Whew! Yes, that could be a depressing set-up. But his author treats it with dark humor and poignancy. 

Andrew is a mess. Through an initial misunderstanding during his job interview he let his boss believe he has a wife and two children and lives in a grand home. Over his years of employment he hasn't been able to tell the truth. He lives alone in a dingy one bedroom apartment surrounded by model trains. His only friends are fellow train enthusiasts he interacts with via an online forum. 

Then Peggy comes to work at the office and he begins to have feelings for her....but she thinks he is happily married with two adoring children. 

On one level the story is about all the slapstick scenarios set up by Andrew's mythical family Keeping this ruse going is taking it toll on Andrew...and he wasn't in a good place to start. 

On a deeper level I found this to be a portrait of grief and the effects of trauma on an individual. Throughout the novel Andrew has terrible flashbacks causing him extreme emotional distress. The author unravels Andrew's personal history very slowly over the course of the novel. As I started to realize the cause of Andrew's anxiety and the depth of his despair, my heart broke. Can you imagine being so lonely, you perpetuate the myth of a family, because you have become emotionally invested in the welfare of your imaginary family? And at the same time, Andrew knew keeping the farce going was absurd. 

I'm an empathetic person, I feel things deeply, even the plight of fictional characters. A different personality may find Andrew annoying or ridiculous. If you enjoyed Eleanor, I'd like you to meet Andrew. If you didn't enjoy Eleanor, I'd still love for you to meet Andrew :)
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Andrew lives his life completely alone. However, a misunderstanding on a job interview leads his potential future boss to think he has a wife and family. After he gets the job, he continues to let his boss and co-workers think he has a family because he is afraid of losing his job, and he wants to fit in. Then, he gets a new co-worker named Peggy, and Andrew just may want to make a real connection with someone for the first time in a long time. However,  a traumatic incident from his past may keep holding him back, and Peggy has issues of her own. This is a beautiful story about people learning to connect with one another. Despite his flaws, the character of Andrew displays such a touching vulnerability that you can't help rooting for him. This book will leave you appreciating your humanity and having people in your life that you care about and who care about you in return.
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I don’t think there is a book that I had made me both laugh and cry only a few pages apart as much as this. 

I didn’t expect a book about death and loneliness to be as funny as this was. From the first few pages, I found myself giggling at some of the situations and especially at Andrew’s thoughts and dialogue. While the beginning was a bit slow for me, once I began to care for Andrew (and his growing closeness with Peggy) I didn’t want to stop reading. 

The sad parts of this book were somehow completely unexpected in a book dealing with someone working with dead people. A few of the revelations completely shocked me and made me look at earlier parts of the story in a new light. 

I’ve seen this book compared to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and while I can see where the comparisons come from, I think Andrew is a significantly more enjoyable protagonist. I couldn’t finish Eleanor Oliphant because her personality and actions were so over-the-top, but I found myself truly caring for Andrew.
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More romcoms from a male perspective! The writing is very charming and I was surprised by how much I liked the narrator and his voice.
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How Not to Die Alone is the story of Andrew, a lonely man whose job is to find the closest living relatives of the recently deceased. Andrew has no friends, no family, and has become comfortable being alone - until he makes a genuine friend in Peggy and finds himself caring deeply about another person for the first time. 

How Not to Die Alone is darkly funny, and even the most extroverted person can understand Andrew's anxiety towards new people and building relationships. Without giving away spoilers, what makes the book so hard to put down is that you know Andrew's life is about to blow up in his face, and as a reader, you're eager to know how the whole thing ends and how all the lose ends connect. 

The dark humor may be a turnoff for some, and some readers may get impatient with Andrew. But at a time when we are "connecting" with each other over social media, How Not to Die Alone is a poignant story about human connection and building meaningful relationships.
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What to say about this book? I loved it. The characters were quirky without being precious or annoying. They were real and you really cared about what happened to them. Andrew accidentally let his subconscious answer a question he barely listened to and suddenly he had a family that didn't exist.

Andrew worked for "the council" and helps to find the next of kin to say goodbye to those who die alone. He like his work and thinks his lonely life is all he needs. He feels that it fills a void. When he meets Peggy, he knows that it really does not. How does he extricate from the lies he has told? How does move beyond this place where his life has stalled? How does he face his past?
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First, let me just out there that objectively speaking, this is actually a decent, well-written book.

Now let me admit that subjectively speaking, this book was not the one for me.

I don't know what I had expected when I picked up a book about a man whose job revolves around working with dead people, but it wasn't this. This book is a lot darker and heavier than I expected, and not just because of the whole looming topic of life and death, but because the more we delve into the story, the more we find out about our main character Andrew's lonely and tragic past. 

Andrew is a little odd when you first meet him. He's likable but strange, the kind of man who invented an entire family in the eyes of his coworkers because he didn't know how to get out of an awkward situation, and then perpetuated the lie because he liked the idea of belonging to a family.

This is not as goofy as it at first seems after we get to see how he was raised with a sick and neglectful more and an equally neglectful and abusive older sister. 

The characters in this book are well written and interesting. The writing is quite good. The story itself is thoughtful and enjoyable if you can get into it. Sadly, for the life of me, I couldn't engage with the story!

I was bored. I was distracted. I wanted to dive in and I could barely dip my toe into it and I am genuinely disappointed in myself for it because I think the story deserves a chance. 

There have been a lot of people that have really liked this so far and I don't doubt that many more of you will like it as well. I am not one of those people.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group Publsihing for an ARC of this fantastic novel! 

In this quirky, somewhat dark comedy (of sorts), Roper takes us along Andrew's journey from self-inflicted and deprecating introvert to a more open-hearted and carpe diem-version of himself through loss, the possibility of love and reflection.  Having read "Eleanor Oliphant" and thoroughly enjoyed it, but also having fallen prey to other publicist's ploy of likening one novel to another best-seller, I can genuinely recommend this to fans of Eleanor Oliphant.  The British humor, the somewhat-macabre lot in life of the MC, and the style of the novel seem to align (to me at least), but Roper's take remains refreshing and unique (if.not tied up a bit neatly for some readers' taste). 

Having no major complaints, I would recommend this novel for fans of British fiction seeking a respite from the usual fare and those seeking an uplifting, if not interesting, perspective from an individual who likely dwells among us-- silent but mindful, careful yet daring of mind, and soulful.  

4 of 5 stars! Well done Mr. Roper!
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I really appreciated the dry and dark humor in this book.  The author did a good job breathing life into this somewhat lonesome character and although the story was sometimes a tiny bit predictable it was quite enjoyable as Andrew evolved.
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How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May.

Andrew is part of a council that gather together a person’s loved ones and fund their funeral after they die on their own. This leads to him attending a lot of funerals and coming to terms with what his own end might be like. Comparatively, when he’s not in the field, he's in an easygoing office environment, only to go back home to an empty apartment, his model train message boards, and not too terribly close relationships with his family; even to the point that he’s described an imaginary family for himself to his coworkers, finds himself answering for them semi-regularly, and drawing from a spreadsheet to keep his facts straight. But, the presence of a new, plainspoken coworker Peggy has Andrew slightly readjusting his backstory and setting aside personal insecurities.
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Interesting read of an introvert learning to come out of his shell and embrace life. I enjoyed the dark humor, though I do know that it is not for everyone. I received a copy from NetGalley and the publisher and this is my honest opinion.
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Andrew is a 42-year-old man who is a bachelor.  He works for the Death Administration Council.  What that basically means is that when a person dies without anyone, Andrew must check out if there are any family, any cash or bank accounts to pay for the funeral, and stay until the body is sent to the morgue.  But Andrew is a good soul, albeit pathetic, who even goes to the funeral of the deceased.  The intriguing part is that as this story begins, he lies through his teeth to his coworkers, saying that he is married, has two children and works in a posh home in an upper-class neighborhood.  One could understand that but he makes it worse by adding to the story frequently to the point where his peers are dying to meet his family and visit his phenomenal home.  The saving grace for a very difficult first few chapters is that Andrew has a ripping, great sense of humor in spite of his pathetic lies.

Two occasions mark the turning point for Andrew.  One is a new co-worker, Peggy, who is married with two daughters.  At first, he is intent on helping her to adjust to her new job which is the same as his job.  Little by little, with some innocent but increasingly revealing conversations, he finds himself realizing he’s falling in love with her.  She has a bad marriage that’s little by little falling apart and he discovers he really cares what happens to her.  

At the same time, he has a strange relationship with his own family, especially his sister who wants him to face his past.  Sally and Andrew had a close but fraught relationship and she blames him for the fact they have grown apart.  A tragedy happens and Sally’s ex-boyfriend is convinced Andrew is responsible because Sally worried so much about him.  What the boyfriend wants is a wake-up call for Andrew.

The plot evolves and doesn’t quite go where everyone expects, but it can be said that Andrew is a new person as a result of the experiences he has with Peggy and Sally.

Hang in reader because this is a story that can’t be quickly forgotten and therein lies its redemptive qualities for both the characters in the story and the reader who is made to question and think about relationships and people.  Interesting, annoying but redeemable contemporary fiction!
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Wow. I absolutely loved this book!  This book totally gave me Eleanor Oliphant vibes, which I am all for.

Here is a quick summary from book of the month:
"Andrew has an unusual job for a civil servant: He goes into the homes of deceased people who lived alone and searches their belongings for clues of any living relatives. He is respectful and sensitive, and the job suits him. Andrew himself lives a quiet life alone—not that his coworkers know that. For five years, due to a small error, he’s allowed them to believe he’s happily married with children."

"Now Andrew’s lie has come back to bite him, not only because his boss is suggesting they take turns hosting team-building dinners, but also because of the new employee, Peggy. Peggy is friendly and full of life, and Andrew is falling for her. But if he tells her the truth, will she ever talk to him again? And will his boss fire him if he finds out the truth?"

5 out of 5 stars! I loved it. Thank you Net Galley and the publisher for the arc!
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This book reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine with a little A Man Called Ove. Andrew, he main character, is in his early 40s, lives alone, has no friends, and loves his model trains and Ella Fitzgerald records. While he doesn’t hate his life, he isn’t honest about it with his coworkers. A new person comes into in his life and opens his heart to real human connection for the first time in years. This book is character-driven and I can’t imagine anyone not rooting for Andrew.
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Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book, but unfortunately, How Not to Die Alone was not for me. I was about ten percent in when I decided not to finish this book because it was just too depressing for me.
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This is a fast, funny, but also poignant read for those that enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Like Eleanor, Andrew is a little odd. His job concerns dealing with the aftermath of people who die alone, without families or friends. He has an estranged sister and his only real social network is a group of online train enthusiasts. A misunderstanding-turned-lie during his interview years ago has led Andrews co-workers to believe  that Andrew is happily married with two beautiful children. When a new employee arrives and Andrew finds himself falling for her, he must navigate a way to set his life to rights. This novel is by turns quirky, endearing, but also heavy. The more we learn about Andrew and his past, the more sympathy we feel for him and his predicament. Although this didn't engage me as much as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I am still happy to have gotten to know Andrew. I would recommend this to fans of Fredrik Backman, Maria Semple, and Elizabeth Berg.
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If you are looking for an uplifting story, this isn’t it. It is a good story but sad on so many levels.

Andrew has a make believe family that was accidentally created during an interview for work for his current job. During those years, he has never corrected that mistaken impression/deduction.
Andrew works for the department of public health.. His job is to find next of kin and assets to pay for the recent dearly departed’s funeral.

Along comes a new hire that must shadow him. She is married. She befriends him and begins to pull him out of his self-imposed isolation. Co-workers can be friends despite being different genders.

In the end, Andrew does have hope that his life can change for what he feels is the better.

This book brought back overwhelming sadness. I have attended funerals as the Casualty Officer where no one but the funeral home and the military burial squad have attended. This book makes you think and that is not a bad thing.

I received an e-copy of the book via Netgalley and am not required to leave a positive review.
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Happy Pub Day to How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper and Happy Back from the Brink of Death Day to my basil plant! 

I read this heartbreaking, sweet, and funny novel on Saturday and really liked it. Dark humor at its best...

As for my basil plant...we shall see!
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