Book Review: TomAYto TomAHto by Adrian Millar

You know that age-old debate about what pronunciation to give to the humble tomato? Journalist and writer Adrian Millar has decided to take it to a whole new level and use it as a metaphor for marriage, in his witty, true to life novel.

And I’m not just saying it’s witty because he sent me a signed copy in the post, although I do love the smell of jiffy bags, It’s an honest portrayal of a marriage between two people who are at odds: one is the TomAYto, the other the TomAHto.

Eileen is an acerbic school vice principal who’s doing her best to keep the ship afloat. Mark, her husband, gave up the priesthood to marry her, and is now burning with resentment, feeling that his family are a noose around his neck. It’s a story that shows the extraordinary lives lived by ordinary people, and the possibility that redemption is around the corner.

Following a recent family tragedy, the cracks in their marriage are threatening to become permanent. One day, Eileen decides she has had enough and books into Sanctuary, a silent retreat where she will unravel the truths of her life with the help of Zen master Father Edward. And Mark will get a rude awakening of his own, as he’s left adrift in a sea of domestic chaos.

From the moment this novel starts, you’re smack bang inside the characters’ heads. You see the world, and their lives, the way they see it. Millar skillfully uses the characters’ actions and words to show you that all is not well. The dialogue is authentic, and riddled with one liners that will make you chuckle.

My criticism relates more to issues of layout than of content. Millar self-published this book using the Internet publishing platform Lulu. Unfortunately, the result is a giant wall of unbroken text, whcih is quite a strain on the eyes. Millar also edited the book himself and given how hard it is to edit your own work, he did a remarkably good job.

Millar’s own story weaves its way into the book. He was in the priesthood, as Mark was,  and worked in Japan, as Eileen did. His background as a psychoanalyst shows in his portrayal of his characters, which is full of empathy and emotional insight.

Adrian Millar is passionate about telling stories. He tells his own story in A Dad’s Life in The Irish Examiner’s Feelgood Supplement. He gives other people a chance to tell their stories on the site The Beauty of Every Day Life, where people celebrate the extraordinary moments in their ordinary lives. You can buy the book via Amazon – just click here.





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