How Not to Die Alone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 May 2019

Member Reviews

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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I saw the cover of this book and thought...same buddy. While I’d never choose a book solely based on its cover, this one drew me in. It makes me thinks of that kind of crap day that turns into a week, then a month, then a year.

Andrew has been the poor recipient of many bad days. He’s a bit of a loner and haunted by the memories of his past. Not to mention, a small misunderstanding at work has turned a white lie into a full-time major lie, keeping Andrew from ever letting anyone in. When he befriends a new coworker he feels a change inside, what is this feeling? When work and other life events collide it seems his long time secret may finally be revealed.

I’ve heard many people compare this to Eleanor Oliphant. I understand the similarities, I wouldn’t directly compare the main characters BUT I think if you enjoyed that story you will definitely enjoy this one. Dark but humorous, I didn’t feel like I HAD to read this book I WANTED to read it. I often found myself not wanting to put it down and thought it was a quick read. I would for sure add this to your summer reading list! It will definitely make you appreciate the life and connections you have. Check it out!
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How Not to Die Alone is a gem of a book. I will admit that the first 20% or so of the book was very slow for me. But once Peggy entered the story, it picked up and I flew through the book.

This is a multi-layered story that is revealed in different ways at different times throughout the book. I found Andrew relatable and likable. If you have not read much English authors, you might find the writing style a bit of a struggle but the story is worth it. 

I will be watching to see if Roper writes more because I am a fan. This book will be one of my favorites of 2019.
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This book reminds me a lot of A Man Called Ove, my unabashed favorite book on 2018.  How Not to Die Alone has a slow start as the reader is introduced to the main character and his backstory but he grows on you quickly, fast becoming an unforgettable main character.  The story is unique and one I think most people can relate to- what if you had the life you'd always dreamed of instead of the one you actually have?  I really loved seeing the book progress to its climax and conclusion. While it was not a gripping page turner, it was a book that will stay with me for a very long time, teaching me and reminding me of the importance of actually living each day.  I predict this quietly beautiful novel is going to be at the top of a lot of lists this year. 

As far as content cautions, the book deals heavily with death, depression, and the nature of truth.  There is also some conversational coarse language consistent with the culture it's set in but that does not detract from the story.  

I received an advance copy of this book from Penguin Books and Netgalley however all opinions are my own.
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The blinds on Andrew's cloistered, weird life are thrown wide open when his new co-worker, Peggy, is assigned to shadow him. In between learning of Andrew's odd, small life, his dysfunctional upbringing, and his sibling relationship, details of the lonely deaths he is assigned to investigate are smattered through the story.  Andrew is thoughtful of and, at times, compassionate toward his cases whose passing is unnoticed by humankind, but it isn't until Peggy enters and his sister, Sally, leaves his life that he begins to worry about dying alone.

Richard Roper addresses family relationships, loneliness and love in his debut novel, How Not to Die Alone. I am not sure I got what I expected when I chose to read this novel, but I did get a good book. It is the sort of book that slowly stirs one’s emotions. Interestingly the story is told in a third-person narrative, and surprisingly, it fit well with the story layout. Mr. Roper's descriptive writing is lovely and evocative.

The book is likened to Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine, and in terms of the plot premise, it is a little too similar to the previously published book. However, aside from the premise, How Not to Die Alone—from past tragedies to resolution—are unique and original. I did find How Not to Die Alone has less quirk than 'Eleanor', but it is more poignant. It has its moments of humor sprinkled through the rather sad story. Between Andrew’s lonely existence and his sad job (investigating homes of he dead for signs of living relatives/friends), How Not to Die Alone is a comedy noir.

“There was nobody for him to share the story with. No one to help him laugh his way through it. Loneliness, however, was ever vigilant, always there to slow-clap his every stumble.”

Andrew’s odd story is slowly revealed, and the disturbing findings on the job, his bizarre co-workers, and his delightful new apprentice add some interesting spice to it. The stiff, quarterly phone calls from his sister create a bit of dread in terms of Andrew’s mental health or what might have happened in their collective past. The tension mounts as Andrew’s obsession with his hobby and his aversion to the song Blue Moon is revisited again and again.

There is a moment of transgression that some might call marital cheating, but it is more a response to a highly emotional moment and an acknowledgement that Peggy and Andrew are unhappy with their {respective} status quo. That relatively chaste transgression is a fulcrum in both their lives.

I loved Andrew’s thoughtfulness when it came to his job. It showed him to be a sensitive soul, and it really made him a likable character. Peggy is a breath of fresh air; she has no end of personal issues, but she cheerily approaches work with aplomb. The secondary characters are a motely crew; between Cameron the bizarre, uninspiring department leader and Meredith and Keith the slacker co-workers, Andrew and Peggy could be in the sitcom—The Office. In his youth, Andrew’s sister, Sally bullied him, and in her absence, her husband, Gabe, continues the effort to make Andrew miserable. Beyond these secondary characters, each death Peggy and/or Andrew investigate presents a dismal tertiary character who becomes another lesson in dying alone. While Peggy’s family serves to remind Andrew of what he is missing in life.

How Not to Die Alone is definitely a rally cry for getting offline and connecting with people, for forgiving family members’ imperfections, and for creating a reason to hope.
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Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest opinion on this book.

This book is about a lonely, man, battling demons of his own while working in a job helping those who died alone. Andrew goes on quite the personal growth journey in this story which has a happy ending. 

Andrew is a well developed character and one you want to have come out on top. The story is well developed and believable. A strong story about doing the right thing.
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