The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock, Review: Happy tearjerker

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock is something special, as hilarious as it is moving. Jane Riley’s debut novel is feel-good fiction at its finest. Read on for our full review.

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock Book Synopsis

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley book cover (man standing in coffin) on tie pattern background - Book Review Banner

His life is perfectly regimented. Is there really room for something as unpredictable as love?

Oliver Clock has everything arranged just so. A steady job running the family funeral parlour. A fridge stocked with ready meals. A drawer full of colour-coded socks. A plan (of sorts) to stay trim enough for a standard-sized coffin. And in florist Marie, he’s even found the love of his life—not that she’s aware of it.

When a terrible tragedy takes Marie out of his life but leaves him with her private journal, he discovers too late that she secretly loved him back. Faced now with an empty love life, a family funeral business in trouble, a fast-approaching fortieth birthday and a notebook of resolutions he’s never achieved, Oliver resolves to open himself up to love—and all the mess that comes along with it.

But, with a habit of burying his feelings, can he learn to embrace his lovability and find the woman who will make him feel whole?

(Lake Union Publishing – February 2020)

Genre: Romance, Drama, Humour, Literature

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I tend to approach buzzy new publishing terms with a little scepticism. I mean, that ‘new-adult’ fad just annoyed me. So when people started referring to ‘uplit’ as a genre I thought, here we go again. But, having begun 2020 by reading The Flatshare (heartwarming) and now this wonderful novel The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock, I am now a convert. If ever there was a time for life-affirming fiction, it is now.

Typically I struggle to engage with overly submissive protagonists, but Jane Riley’s skilfully depicted leading man Oliver is a character that I really warmed to. Yes, he can be socially awkward and compliant to his own detriment, but his life experiences and genuine desire to not cause others distress has shaped this behaviour.

Evocative and nuanced characterisation

You see, if you boiled it down as if deglazing a pan, what I really yearned for was a partner. And love. Ideally both at the same time.

In The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock, Jane Riley’s use of cooking simile within Oliver’s disarmingly honest first-person narrative reinforces his love of food. Similarly, his observation of fine detail (and admiration for those that display attention to it) reinforces his obsessive neatness and the loyalty displayed to him by his best mate Andy (diametrically opposite in personality) his genuine goodness.

Far from his interactions with funeral home clients, even Riley’s pitch-perfect geeky deadpan (and often quite visual) humour reinforces his consideration and empathy for others. In the middle of a date, when the power goes out:

I took (candles) to the living room and lit them on the coffee table, trying not to shine the torch directly into Shelley’s eyes. I couldn’t help but notice how lovely she looked in the glow of candlelight, yet could not dwell on the moment for fear I appeared about to interrogate her with the torch.

Whether humour strikes a chord, particularly the geeky variety, is a very personal thing. But, Riley certainly hit the right note for me. Along Oliver’s transformative, overarching character journey (mid-life awakening), the pace with which Riley’s narrative alternates between hilarity and the heartfelt had me enthralled and turning the pages late into the evening.

Jane Riley’s debut novel The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock should come with a warning:

“This novel may elicit geeky giggles and require a tissue on standby for happy-tear dabbing at its conclusion.”

An absolute delight. I look forward to what else this author has in store for us.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5

Get your copy of The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock from:

Bookshop US Indigo CA Waterstones UK Booktopia AU Audio

Related Reads:
Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp  /  Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy  /   Resistance is Futile by Jenny T Colgan  /  If Kisses Cured Cancer by T S Hawlen /  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2020 and 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge.

About the Author, Jane Riley

Jane Riley grew up in New Zealand, married an Englishman and lives in Sydney, Australia. She has a degree in French and English Literature and has worked in public relations, television publicity and publishing. For more than twenty years she freelanced as a writer and editor before launching an online e-commerce business and blog interviewing makers and creators. She volunteers as an English language tutor for the Adult Migrant English Program in Sydney, and has completed the Faber academy course in Australia. Her debut novel, The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock, was won in an auction by Amazon Publishing and was a top-five kindle bestseller in the UK and the US.

* My receiving a copy from the author for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.