We do not necessarily know the stuff of thought others carry in their heads no matter how close or chummy we are with them unless they talk to us. When two people get married, becoming parents and raising children seem to be the natural order of things. When the child is born, often both parents if not one parent has this all consuming obsessive love for the little one that the entire relationship takes on a different dynamic where attention is shifted to the baby. What if parenthood is thrust upon a man or a woman when he or she is not quite ready for it or worse they are just never cut out to be parents ? Maybe due to biological make up, a woman seems more ready to valiantly take on her role as a mother coping on her own even in the absence of a man who is away due to work and various commitments. It is commonly known that after a day’s work, some married men unwind themselves by taking part in activities such as golfing and drinking with friends. Some of these men are probably keeping scores that their work stress is so great that it is perfectly legitimate for them to hang out with friends to de-stress and re-create those carefree days or that they are networking and looking for opportunities to a better future. If they assume that the children will form the substratum of their marriage, they will sooner or later find out that such a notion is a misconception. They must know that their children will grow up and they might just have missed their chances of caring and nurturing them.
‘They were as eager to hear about my experience as I was to recount them. No other man in the room had yet become a parent and they looked to me as the war- scarred veteran, back from battle, full of horrific tales from the front line of fatherhood.
The protagonist laments,
‘In all the adverts that I’d arranged the music for , the families always had such fun; they always looked so comfortable with each other. Even though I worked in the industry I still hadn’t seen through the lies.’
‘ The adverts told us we could have it all , we could be great dads and still go off snowboarding and earn lots of money and pop out of the business meeting to tell our children a bedtime story on the mobile phone. But it can’t be done. Work, family and self; it’s an impossible Rubik’s Cube, You can’t be a hands-on, sensitive father and a tough ,high- earning businessman and a pillar of your local community and a handy do-it- yourself Mr Fixit and a romantic, attentive husband- something has to give . In my case, everything.’
Mike feels guilty about his deception though he tries to justify that it is for the sake of the marriage. When Catherine comes to know about Mike's double life, he almost loses it all. In fictions things are usually okay at the end. Nonetheless the book is a satire that gives insights into the psyches of men and women and the demands of contemporary living. O’Farell’s observations about parenthood and his descriptions about the power play and dynamics in a couple are very real and often hilarious. It is candid and funny.