The Man Who Missed The Boat: A Modern-day Candide

Should we try to steer the course of our ship of life ourselves, or simply let it drift with the tides as they ebb and flow? Do our decisions really influence events the way we want them to, or will it all turn out as the fates have predestined it? Simon Baxter, The Man Who Missed The Boat, is probably the most indecisive character in literary history, but no decision is also a decision, as he suddenly finds out one Saturday morning.

Peter Wells tracks the events that sweep Simon along in their flow, with unexpected and life-changing consequences due to his innate good manners and inability to say no to anyone. This gentle, self-effacing protagonist (he can hardly be termed a hero) gains our sympathy as we follow his passage through a short but significant period of his existence, buffeted by the storms in other people’s lives that impact on his own. From tiptoeing over the surface where he can avoid any involvement in other people’s affairs, he suddenly trips and falls into a deep hole that turns him into a key player.

Told in Peter’s inimitable style, with humour, wit, compassion, and some very neat turns of phrase, this carefully woven story offers well-observed insights into Simon’s mind and its workings. As the narrative progresses, Peter also opens up to us the dreams, desires, aspirations and regrets of a multitude of other highly credible characters. Eventually, this tale of a man who has no desire to be master of his fate confronts us with the eternal question: would it make any difference if he did try to control his destiny? Read and find out.

You can sample the flavour of Peter’s writing at his blog Counting Ducks, where you can also meet a few more of the weird and wonderful inhabitants of his imaginary world. Or are they real?


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