Synopsis (from Amazon)
Max Tivoli is writing the story of his life. He is nearly seventy years old, but he looks as if he is only seven – for Max is ageing backwards. The tragedy of Max’s life was to fall in love at seventeen with Alice, a girl his own age – but to her, Max looks like an unappealingly middle-aged man. However when Max reaches the age of thirty-five, with an appearance to match, he has his second chance at love. But tragedy befalls this star-crossed couple, and desperate measures are required.
Okay I’ll get this bit over and done with. The moment I read the synopsis of this book I instantly thought of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (a book which has been on my wishlist since I saw the film when it was in the cinemas), and the plot is very similar, except this book seems much sadder than the film of Benjamin Button was (I can’t comment on the book). It was something which put me off Max Tivoli, it seemed unoriginal, and if I had seen the book in-store I probably wouldn’t have bought it thinking that I should at least read the ‘original’ first. I didn’t see it in-store however, it was a bookring, and lots of participants had enjoyed it so I decided to go for it.
I can’t say it gave me more than I expected in terms of enjoyment, or even that it wasn’t what I expected really. I did enjoy it though. Essentially it was a love story. That Max was living backwards didn’t really make a difference to this. (highlight for spoiler)In the end I don’t think Alice really ever loved Max, even when they were married. If he was the same age as her the whole time I don’t think it would have been different. In a way it was less beautiful and less romantic than the plot of Benjamin Button, but in a couple of places it really was moving and brought me close to tears. And I think the idea odf Max always wanting to be with Alice was romantic, bordering on obsessive. I did find some sections a little slow, and it took a while to get going, but by the end I felt it had become rushed.
Character wise I didn’t like Max, he was selfish, and obsessive. He didn’t really care about Alice, just about having her and I think he would have given up anything (certainly he gave up lots) to get that. I didn’t really feel I got that much of a sense of Alice as a person, although I respected her individuality. Hughie was probably my favourite character, he was so accepting and devoted.