THE TRIVIA MAN by Deborah O’Brien, Review: Depth of meaning

Deborah O’Brien does not shout her message. The Trivia Man is a slow-burning and almost quiet read, but its depth of meaning creeps up on you.

The Trivia Man Synopsis:

The Trivia Man Deborah O'Brien

From the author of Mr Chen’s Emporium comes a quirky and heartwarming tale about finding your true place in the world, set against the backdrop of a weekly trivia competition.

‘Trivia is a serious business, not a social occasion’ Kevin Dwyer, the ‘trivia man’

Dubbed ‘brainbox’ by his peers and ‘weirdo’ by his sister, Kevin Dwyer is a middle-aged forensic accountant who has never had a real friend, other than his eight-year-old nephew Patrick. When Kevin joins the Clifton Heights Sports Club trivia competition as a one-man team, and convincingly wins the first round, he is headhunted by the other contestants. But Kevin would prefer to be on his own. That is, until he meets Maggie Taylor . . .

Maggie is a Latin teacher and movie buff, who’s good at her job but unlucky in love. In fact, she’s still besotted with the man who dumped her years ago. Nagged by her friend Carole about getting out and meeting people, Maggie reluctantly joins the trivia team founded by Carole’s husband, Edward.

Over a season of trivia nights, Kevin, Maggie and her team will experience arguments and crises, friendships and romances, heartbreaks and new beginnings. And maybe, just maybe, Kevin will find his happy ever after . . .

(Penguin Books Australia)

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Who isn’t drawn to a story about people that walk to the beat of their own drum? Every one of us has at some time in our lives felt that we didn’t quite fit in with the crowd, or perhaps admired those that appeared quite happy not doing so.

Kevin Dwyer, The Trivia Man, is a smart guy, but his lack of understanding of social norms has left him isolated within society.

O’Brien’s use of a narrative that alternates between different character viewpoints provides valuable insight on the subtle nuances at play in even the most common place of situations. And most crucially, the potential minefield ‘what is often unsaid’ can present for those who process the world literally.

What I particularly admired is that O’Brien did not feel the need to shout her message. The Trivia Man is very pleasant read, slow burning and almost quiet, but its depth of meaning creeps up on you. Through entertaining dialogue during the weekly trivia competitions she develops her eclectic ensemble cast, slowly but surely stripping back layers.

Perhaps Kevin isn’t the only one with traits not accepted by all?

In better understanding Kevin, might they come to better understand themselves?

A worthy reminder of the value of our differences, Deborah O’Brien’s The Trivia Man is a very enjoyable novel that leaves you with that old-fashioned warm and fuzzy feeling.

UPDATE: The Trivia Man will be published in German by Goldmann Verlag in November 2016 as ‘Ein anderes Wort fur Gluck‘ (Another Word for Happiness’).

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Get your copy of The Trivia Man from:

Book Depository | AmazonBookworld(Aus) | Kobobooks

Genre: Romance, Humour, Drama, Chicklit

UPDATE: Read our review of Deborah O’Brien’s next novel The Rarest Thing, one of our Top Reads of 2016.

This reviews counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2015 and the 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

About the Author, Deborah O’Brien

Deborah O’Brien is a teacher, visual artist and writer. Although she was born and educated in Sydney, she has family links to rural New South Wales by way of her father and her maternal grandmother. Together with her husband and son, she divides her time between the city and a country cottage, overlooking a creek frequented by platypuses. It is her dream to own a small herd of alpacas.

She has authored several non-fiction books, contributed articles to a variety of magazines and written short stories. She is now the author of four novels, Mr Chen’s Emporium, The Jade WidowA Place of Her Own and The Trivia Man.

Follow Deborah O’Brien on Facebook or visit her website and blog.

Other reviews of The Trivia Man

GoodreadsDuffy the WriterJ F GibsonSandy Fussell

* My receiving a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.

Book Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Deborah O’Brien’s The Trivia Man, Random House Australia offered a paperback copy for giveaway.