Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. A Peripatetic Life was selected as an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here!
I had very mixed opinions on this book. There were moments where I was eagerly flipping to the next page, and others where I had to force myself to focus. This autobiography both shines, as well as fails to fill the spotlight.
When Raymond was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 72, he decided to start writing down his life story. He’s had almost every job/hobby you can think of, open to try anything. The outcome is a wild and fulfilling life like no other. This is the story of a soldier, a butler, a driver, and a salesman along with many others, but above all else, it’s a story about a person who has lived life as openly as he could. It’s a true story, showing its readers the amazing life you can live, if you’re willing to give it a shot.
This man has led an incredible life. Of that there is no question. He has traveled all over the world, not just once but multiple times. He learns from each life experience and refuses to live life with regret. He considers everything that comes his way, positive or negative, to be a learning experience, and I think this is such a healthy, inspiring way to live.
Reading this book, I often forgot I was not only reading about a real person, but I was being told the story from the horse’s mouth, as it were. Walley’s perseverance and what I suppose you could call optimism, even in the face of adversity, can’t help but warm your heart and give you hope. There was one moment in particular that not only stood out to me, but that really sums up the book, as well as Walley’s perspective on life.
He’s talking about a piece of music that he listened to, and the first time around, he didn’t understand it. It didn’t impact him. Where most would simply stop listening, he continued. Over and over again he listened until the music started to speak to him. He couldn’t get enough.
“After that, I never just ‘tried anything once’; it takes several attempts to know if one really likes something or not.”
This fascinates me. Many of us, at least I, have been taught to keep an open mind and try anything at least once or twice. But perhaps it isn’t always as simple as once or twice. Of course, this isn’t always the case. But it’s an interesting idea, and makes you really reflect on your own life. This, in my opinion, is the book’s greatest accomplishment.
However, this novel was far from perfect. While Walley has lived an incredible life and learned many talents over the years, writing is a skill that he has yet to perfect. I felt at moments that I was reading a mere list, summing up his life in the shortest way possible. He has visited so many places, he’s been married multiple times, but he doesn’t go into extreme detail about most of it. The book feels more like a connect-the-dots than an actual autobiography, which made it quite difficult to get through at times.
It is clear that Walley has much to share, and had he delved deeper and let the reader know more, this book could have easily been at least a 4 or 5 star rating. Unfortunately, it often lacked emotion, making it near impossible to empathize. Not only this, but there were many spelling and grammatical errors that needed to be fixed. Had there been even a little more care taken in editing, it would have made a drastic improvement.
Overall, the life lessons to be learned from this book are uplifting. But the art of storytelling has not been captured. I rate this book 3/5 stars.
If you want to see other reviews, or check out the book itself, head on over to Online Book Club, here!