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11 November 2016

James J Kaufman: The Collectibles

An emotional tale of love and tragedy
In his early days, Joe Hart is exploring the mountain wilderness with his uncle when he comments that he feels so ordinary. His Uncle gives him this sage advice - "Do what the other fella can't. Be what the other fella ain't. And then help the other fella."

This is an unforgettable story of two men from different worlds, which collide early on but really collide many years later. In the mountains as a youth, Joe rescues Preston Wilson, another youth reluctantly travelling in the mountains with his dominating father. When Preston's father leaves his mother because he has become a financial failure Preston vows to do everything to become a financial success.

Years later, Preston is an apparent success but his automobile sales group is about to go bankrupt. Preston faces not only losing his businesses but also his wife who had financially supported him. At the end of his tether, Preston looks for a lawyer with a track record of helping businesses in trouble. This leads him to Joe Hart, who has become a successful lawyer after years as a top rated submarine commander. Preston realises that fate has once again brought him to Joe but how can he find him?

Joe has once again retreated to the mountains to recover from a personal tragedy. Preston tracks him down and tries to persuade Joe to come down and help him. Jo reluctantly agrees but only after he extracts three promises from Preston which he must fulfill whenever called upon. Preston meets the first two promises and Joe makes an arrangement with the banks for restructuring of the finances and changing the management of his businesses to give them a chance of becoming successful again.

Preston's businesses are now recovering but Preston cannot recover from the loss of his wife who walked out on him at his darkest hour. Then Joe calls in the final and most unusual IOU - Preston must meet, earn the trust of, and care for several people. These are Joe's "collectibles" - a rag-tag bunch of people that Joe has supported whom Preston would never normally want to know. Can Preston find the strength and integrity to make good on his promise to Joe? Does he have a choice?

This is a wonderful debut novel by James J Kaufman and I defy anyone with some sensitivity to have a dry eye during parts of this book, especially the finale. It is the first installment of a trilogy and I look forward to reading the other books.

I listened to this novel as an audiobook, which heightened some of the more emotional elements for me. As an Aussie, the American accent of the narrator was initially difficult to identify with but in the end, I quite liked the presentation.

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