Friday 8 January 2016

Review ~ Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

Harper Collins
November 2015

This is a tale where everything is true except the bits that are made up…

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam Snr. were high school sweethearts in West Virginia. When they graduated high school, Homer wanted to marry Elsie but fate intervened, and Elsie decided to head to Orlando and to her rich uncle Aubrey, where she embarked on a relationship, of sorts, with an aspiring actor named Buddy Ebsen. When Buddy headed for a more challenging career in New York, Elsie realises that her dream of a life with Buddy is over. She heads back home and falls into marriage with Homer. But Elsie yearns for what might have been and her daily reminder of what was lost is Albert, the alligator who was an unusual wedding gift from Buddy. Keeping an alligator in the only bathroom in the house is not without incident and when Albert scared Homer once too often, an ultimatum was reached “Me or that alligator!” Elsie decided that there was nothing for it but to load up the Buick and carry Albert home.

This is the story of what happens on that journey and of the people they meet on the way there, the decisions they reach, and the fun they have when all about them seems to be going awry. It’s undeniably a funny story, but it’s also a story filled with compassion and a true understanding of human nature. There is no doubt that Homer Hickam is a talented wordsmith, the writing literally leaps off the page, and such is the power of his words that you really are compelled to read on in order to find out just what’s going to happen next on this intrepid adventure.

I was lucky to get a hardback copy of this book and found the photographs at the end of the story, of Elsie, Uncle Aubrey, Homer Jnr and his brother Jim, quite fascinating. I must admit that I did have to Google, Buddy Ebsen to discover who he was, and I was delighted to find that I recognised him as Jed Clampett from the 1960’s television sitcom, the Beverley Hillbillies, which sort of made the giving of an alligator as a wedding gift not so surprising after all.

There’s something rather special about Carrying Albert Home, and even as the premise of carrying an alligator back to Orlando seems a little nonsensical, you can’t help but be drawn into a story which looks at the vagaries of life in all its many moods and also of the overwhelming power of love.

Best read with cups of crystal cool water and hunks of home baked bread with thick slices of smoked ham.

Find the author on his website
Follow him on Twitter @HomerHickam
Find him on Facebook

You can read an interview with Homer Hicham from the Carrying Albert Home Blog Tour here 

My thanks to Harper Collins for my copy of this book.


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