editor's choice



If you like comedy, Andy Hamilton will be a familiar name and face. A regular panellist on game shows and an accomplished screenwriter, with such highly rated series as Outnumbered and Drop the Dead Donkey under his belt, Hamilton publishes his novel, Longhand, this month with Unbound. Both a love letter to the lost art of handwriting and a farewell letter from protagonist Malcolm to the woman he loves but has to leave, Longhand is original, funny (of course) and at times poignant.

Hamilton, who’s a self-confessed technophobe, wrote the book by hand, taking two years and over 40 italic pens to create his work. That’s impressive in itself, but so is the scope of the plot, Malcolm not what he seems, a large, somewhat bumbling Scot, but rather a legend with a truly epic tale to tell.

Writing the letter of his extremely long and action-filled life against the clock, his writing is filled with crossings out and errors, which serve to show us his state of mind: his feelings at the choices he’s been forced to make, his frustrations, anger, love. It’s a great piece of writing, made all the more enjoyable because of the way it’s been created and framed.

To pen more than 300 pages – and, at a guess, substantially more than that in unpublished pages – requires a lot of patience and skill, but to do it and also create a plot that sustains the readers’ interest, entertaining us, making us laugh, is no mean feat. In fact, it could be said, it’s genius.

So, read this book if you want to spend a day escaping the world we live in. Read it if you want to be part of Malcolm’s extraordinary journey. Read it if you want to laugh and be enthralled by Hamilton’s imagination. Read it if you want to celebrate the dying art of the handwritten letter. Actually, whatever the reason, read it.


Longhand | Andy Hamilton | Unbound | 3 September | hb | £16.99


Acknowledgements: Happy publication day to Andy Hamilton. This review is published as part of the publisher book tour. Please read the other lovely reviews. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for arranging it and to the publisher for sending us a review copy. All opinions are our own.

Also of interest:By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’;‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: ‘Meet Charlie Laidlaw’; ‘Meet Paul E. Hardisty’;‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ’Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham;John Fairfax’; ‘Ian Ridley’; ‘David Stuart Davies’.


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