Nomad, I think it itself, was a great title choice by Coogan. The Partridge we know and love is a bit of a nomad himself, a loner of sorts. We’ve seen the series, the movie, Mid Morning Matters; he’s the guy who tries to impress all around him, tries to be everyone’s friend but also keeps them an arms distance away. He’s a divorced man who no longer sees his kids, lives alone in a big house in the countryside, has no real family left, and the only person who would probably call him a proper friend is his long-serving, long-suffering, PA Lynn.
Partridge’s latest novel arguably deals with the subject of this loneliness and separation he deals with. Most of his work flirts with the subject, an odd line here or there referencing his ex, his kids, his parents, but this book tackles it on in a typical Partridge way. Whilst cleaning out his attic, Alan comes across an old letter of his father’s regarding an interview he had at a Nuclear Power station over 40 years ago. However, his father never went to the interview for a reason unknown to Alan, so in very Partridge style he decides to honour his father by walking from Norfolk to the Power station, a journey of almost 200 miles.
The rest of the book covers Alan’s preparation for the journey in his local swimming pool, as well as the exhausting walk across the country. The writing style of Partridge leaves no stone unturned as he describes each place in excruciating detail, with a little bit of Alan-ness on top. Every interaction is as awkward as ever, from the friendly competition with a rival at his local swimming pool, to the tramp Alan decides to confide in whilst sleeping at a local park. Every chapter, or location, feels like a whole new story or episode in a long series, and I imagine that’s on purpose.
Alan’s always on the hunt for a new series, a new idea, and like in the book where he is trying to get someone to cover his walk, I’m sure this book is another cunning plot. When an actor or a comedian has their own characters, or alter egos, it’s very rare for them to be able to excel in various formats, but Coogan manages to do this effortlessly with Partridge. He knows him like the back of his hand, and the introduction of Rob and Neil Gibbons have breathed fresh life into the character. Partridge has now excelled on the big screen, the small screen, and in literary format; there seems to be nothing this character cannot conquer.
Every book has its flaws, and this book does too. It seemed towards the end Coogan got a little ahead of himself with the various twists and turns, but nevertheless the ending feels quite right. There are at times when the book does get a little dull, and the detail feels a little forced at time ever for Partridge. It might sound cliché but you do need to be a fan of Partridge to enjoy this book, although it might be easier for non-fans to connect to him through his literary work.
Overall, it was a very pleasurable read. It was very different from most of his other work – apart from maybe Scissored Isle, and it’s interesting to see Alan dealing with new stages in his life. Like his other work, it has comedy, tragedy, peak awkwardness, and warmth. For Alan fans, it’s a must, and for non-Alan fans it might just be the one thing that turns you…. 8/10.