It is a testament to the character of Simon Murch that he could write this thoroughly entertaining novel while stoically sitting out the General Medical Council hearing for two years. It is not about the GMC though he notes the peculiar circumstance in which it was written: “while enduring one of the lengthiest and most unusual proceedings in British regulatory history”. Also:
“I wrote this book in difficult times. In such times you really find out who your friends are, and I have been blessed..”
The story of four oarsmen and their families coming together after 25 years to prepare for and row a veteran event at Henley Royal Regatta it is certainly a book about friendship, but also about the skulduggery of some people in official positions and their intolerance of different viewpoints. It is very British – lots of topical references which people from across the pond may have to check out on the web – but we are much ruder lot now than in the days of Three Men in a Boat or The Wind in the Willows, and novel is also liberally peppered with references to the gastro-intestinal tract (though none to autism or vaccine damage).
It is, above all, a deeply optimistic book – optimistic to write it at all, but also optimistic in spirit. It is about literally rowing together, and culminates in a magical apotheosis performed by the children in defiance of any rule or regulation, but because it seems the right thing to do.
I believe that Simon Murch sat through every single day of the GMC hearing – just possibly there is some analogy between the relentless and repetitive physical torment of rowing, and simply having to sit there and “endure it”. That he was able to maintain his sanity must be in large part due to this excellent project.
Read more and order a copy at http://www.simonmurch.co.uk/.