David Nobbs's Reggie Perrin is "a man who had given his best years to puddings," and wonders in his mid-forties what the point of it all has been. His relationship with his wife has become stale and he has no enthusiasm for his job. What is he to do?
Having watched The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin on TV in the 1970s and in 2009, I knew exactly what Reggie would do, but I wanted to see if there were differences between the book and the adaptation.
The story is the same, but the book is darker without the canned laughter track, and its sex scenes are more explicit, tho' not gratuitous. Its style of writing is straight-forward, with plenty of dialogue, as if it was written with the intention of adapting it. David Nobbs's descriptions are imaginative, such as a motorcycle's "tactless virility", a sunset "to set shepherds dancing in ecstasy", waiters with "sound-proof shoes and double-glazed eyes", and "good grey nonconformist Sunday rain". I remember the TV series to be mostly about Reggie's mid-life crisis and how he questioned his success and happiness, but the book raises issues about how isolated we can become in our own lives and communities, and what little we know about the people we are closest to.
Overall it's a good story peopled with funny characters, plenty of humour and memories of 1970s Britain.