Xavier Ireland is the assumed name of a radio-show host with a devoted following of listeners riveted by the sleepless loners who call in throughout the night to seek his advice. Off the air, he leads a low-key life of avoiding his neighbors, playing Scrabble, and maintaining an awkward friendship with his cohost, Murray. But his life begins to change when he meets a cleaning lady named Pippa, who becomes a constant, surprisingly necessary presence in his life as he starts facing up to his past and discovering solace and redemption in the most unexpected places. British comedian Mark Watson’s North American debut humorously and poignantly explores life and death, strangers and friends, heartache and comfort, and whether the choices we don’t make affect us just as powerfully as the ones we do.
British standup comedian Watson's light stateside debut maps the ripple effects of tiny coincidences and everyday actions. Riddled with guilt for his involvement in a traumatic accident, Chris Cotswold leaves Australia for London, assumes the name Xavier Ireland, and immerses himself in other people's problems as a late-night radio host. Though the main objective of his off-air life is to remain all-around uninvolved, when he stumbles upon a boy being bullied one day, his reluctant intervention sets off a chain of events in the lives of several strangers whose stories unfold concurrently. Shortly afterwards, Xavier is coerced by his on-air sidekick, Murray, to attend a speed-dating event, where he meets Pippa, a down-on-her-luck but plucky cleaning lady he hires for a weekly sprucing. Pippa quickly becomes a fixture in Xavier's life and incrementally finds a much more important role that doesn't require a vacuum cleaner. Though the story sometimes bows too much to plot convenience, this touching tale about new beginnings has more than enough heart to win over readers.