For me, this short novel by Michael Obiora, titled Vivian’s Couch, sheds a big blinding light on modern society, and I mean BLINDING, and BIG! What I mean by this is that it seems that everyone wants the celebrity lifestyle (well nearly everyone!), all the wealth and fame, yet deep down, these people are just like you and I. The book has a selection of characters, and as the title suggests, they are all linked to a therapist called Vivian. You have your professional footballer, albeit a negative stereotype of one who has all that money, partakes in drug taking, prostitutes and also has a pop star fiancé seldom seen, bar on the cover of magazines. You have your Member of Parliament, whose father has just died in Nigeria. He faces racist abuse from his constituents on a daily basis, even though he has the same colour of skin. He is labelled a sell-out, yet by going to Vivian, he opens up about his family and failings. This leads him to visit his fathers grave in Nigeria, even though he had not seen his father since he walked out on his young family, decades earlier. There is also a retired young Asian police officer, who now wastes her days smoking drugs, who recognised that racism was prevalent in the police, and thus this made her give up that career.
Vivian herself makes the reader realise one thing, and this is that even the therapist themselves can have even worse life experiences than those that they hear on their couch. Vivian adopts the ‘fifth wall’ ideology, meaning that her office has four walls, and what goes on outside them is just the ‘fifth wall’. She even makes sure there are no celebrity magazines in her waiting room, to not give her clients the impression that Vivian will know all about what the media is portraying about their lives. Yet Vivian's life is quite horrific, and this will make you think next time you go to see your Doctor, Dentist, Therapist, etc; "What is their personal life really like?"
For the story itself and how it flows, it flows really well. I found myself flying through the pages, to find out that yet another character had appeared, with their fresh experiences and tales to tell. Even though these characters are not linked in any way, their paths do cross but not like you would ever imagine, or even guess before you get to that very page.
This book deserves to be read by anyone and everyone that wants to read the early works of a talented young new author. Michael is also a well-known actor, and his new TV crime series Fortitude will be on our screens in January 2015 in the UK and US. By reading this book though, you really can just feel what a natural talent Michael has as a writer.
If I had something negative to say, and it is only one small thing, and that is I would have liked more pages to get to know some of the characters just that little bit more.
An excellent short read of just over 200 pages, well worth it!
I give this book an 8.5 out of 10.
Review by Carl Marsh
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