Driven by money, power and success, Gabriel has worked ruthlessly to get to the very top of the banking game. He's not going to let the inconvenience of a terminal brain tumour get in his way.
But the tumour has other ideas. As it grows, it appears to be doing strange things to Gabriel's personality. Whether he likes it or not, he seems to be becoming less selfish, less mercenary, less unlikeable.
Once he could dismiss the rest of humanity as irrelevant. Now he's not so sure. Women, in particular, are becoming worryingly three-dimensional. And none more so than Caitlin, the 'unremarkable' girl he sees busking on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. When she plays her violin, Gabriel could almost believe that he has a soul
But as each day that passes brings him closer to his last, has time run out for second chances?
Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence, published by Hodder & Stoughton in hardback on 11 August 2016.
I have a hardback copy of The Empathy Problem to give away to one blog reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. UK entries only please. Good luck.
The Empathy Problem is Gavin Extence's third novel. His debut, The Universe Versus Alex Woods was published in January 2013, followed by The Mirror World of Melody Black in 2015.
Gavin Extence is an international bestselling author sold in twenty-two territories and the winner of the Writer's Guild Best Book of 2013 for The Universe Versus Alex Woods which was also listed as a Top Ten Amazon Best Book in the same year. It was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize, picked for a Richard & Judy Summer Book Club Read and selected for Simon Mayo BBC Radio 2 Book Club. The Mirror World of Melody Black was also featured on the Radio 2 Book Club two years later.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Empathy Problem, the blurb intrigued me and the cover is stunning, I started to read with an open mind.
A couple of hours later I looked up, I was hooked, well and truly. This writing is so compelling, and Gabriel Vaughan is a lead character that I should hate, but who has snuck into my heart and stayed there.
Thirty-two year old Gabriel is at the top of his game. He earns over three million pounds a year, his suits cost £30,000. His chauffeur drives him to work in the city every day in a Mercedes, they don't speak ... ever. His personal car is a yellow Ferrari, his apartment is minimal, stocked with the best of everything and kept as neat as a pin by a cleaner .... who he has never seen. Money is his goal, it buys everything, even his sex life.
Gabriel is at his desk every morning by 6.20am and leaves the officer at 7.30 .... 6.45 on a Friday. He manages his hedge fund with skill, making his company millions and earning the respect of those he works with ... apart from the admin staff, and the doormen .... he doesn't speak to them.
The one thing that money cannot ensure is good health, and when Gabriel bursts into unexplained tears whilst travelling on the Tube ... which in itself is unusual, let alone the tears ... he consults a doctor straight away. The news is bad ... terminal. There's a tumour on Gabriel's brain, and it's going to kill him. He has six months.
The unexplained tears are not the only symptom of this brain invader. Gabriel begins to notice strange feelings. He actually appears to start to care about things. He spends hours gazing out of his high-rise office window at the Occupy London camp that has set up on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, and when he hears a young girl busker playing classical music on her violin one day, his life takes an unexpected curve.
Gavin Extence is an absolute genius character builder. I should hate Gabriel and all that he stands for, but there were times when I just loved him and his total disregard for those around him which gave him a certain air of vulnerability, and made him quite gullible. The supporting cast of characters range from the downright frightful (his boss Mason), to the absolutely delicious (Caitlin the busker). And the insights into the world of finance were intriguing and told with a straightforward charm that even a complete financial novice such as myself could enjoy.
There's a message within The Empathy Problem, yet it is so sensitively done and so touching that it never feels patronising or preachy. The story raises the question of whether it is ever too late to change, and whether love and empathy go hand in hand.
I really cared about Gabriel. I hoped that it wasn't just the tumour that changed him, I hoped that discovering real love helped him along the way, I hoped that he discovered real happiness alongside the empathy.
Witty, insightful and tender, The Empathy Problem is a triumph. I loved it.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of The Empathy Problem for review.
#Win a copy of The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence #Giveaway
Gavin Extence lives in Sheffield with his wife, children and cat. He is the author of two previous novels. His debut novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, was one of the most-loved, word-of-mouth breakout novels of 2013.
In the year it published it won the Writer's Guild Best Book, the Waverton Good Read Award, was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize, was a BBC Radio 2 Bookclub Read, and Amazon Best Book and had rights sold in over twenty-one countries.
The Empathy Problem is his third novel.
For more information about the author and his writing check out his Author page on Facebook
Follow him on Twitter @GavinExtence