George Bowling, the hero of this comic novel, is a middle-aged insurance salesman who lives in an average English suburban row house with a wife and two children. One day, after winning some money from a bet, he goes back to the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. The pool, alas, is gone, the village has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of his holiday is an accidental bombing by the RAF.
To begin with, if you read Orwell’s classics of “Animal Farm” or “1984” and if you are expecting a book of that kind, you are in the wrong place. This Orwell is completely different one and “Coming Up for Air” has nothing to do with those two books. It does not necessarily mean that this is a worse one but rather it serves to another taste. The first two books were delivering its political messages with a utopian approach at the highest level that made them get a place in each and every must-read-before-you-die lists.
However, Coming Up for Air is like a real life story with an apparently intelligent sense of humor. It takes more than the half of the book to travel to the childhood and memories of the George Bowling, the main character. It is about the story of a miserable man mostly during interwar years. I consider the story boring since the main character is a boring man. He always complains and starts things which he rarely completes. The story gets so dull at some points that make it harder for me to keep reading. Maybe it is because of the pages of unnecessary details which have almost no influence on the main or sub-topics of the book. Some people could call the book as a book of a marriage, of course, from the perspective of an annoying, unhappy, fat and middle aged man.
Overall, Coming Up for Air is a well-written story but not a fascinating, surprising or thrilling one. The book ends with the same depressed mood it has started. Well, it is up to you whether to discover a different version of Orwell within a tragi-comic context or skip it so as not to destroy Orwell’s image in your mind built with his abovementioned classics.