The Optimists by Andrew Miller

The Optimists

Andrew Miller

A bleak yet tender tale about a journalist coming to terms with what he has experienced in an African war zone, coming home to find unexpected solace in his dysfunctional family. As well as being an interesting insight into the healing powers of family relationships and the fine line between cruelty and compassion, the book shows what a breadth of feelings and experience a person is capable of. Despite the dark content it is still a book full of hope.


He became one of the people who go to the cinema in the middle of the day. He had an ideal film in mind, something with a few songs, an unimportant ending. At the cinema in Shepherd's Bush they were showing Breakfast at Tiffany's and he went to see it, sitting among pensioners and the unemployed, content until Hepburn, strumming her little guitar, sang 'Moon River' in a voice that was awkward and beautiful and piercing. He stumbled out, blundering past the dreaming usherette and hurrying home, astonished at himself. He had more luck at the Coronet in Notting Hill. An American high-school comedy, like an update of Happy Days. He watched it three times on three consecutive afternoons. There was nothing in the film to attend to, nothing that needed to be followed or admired. After each showing the swing-door of the cinema scraped the whole thing from his mind like bones from a dinner plate, leaving only a memory of sitting and the knowledge that for ninety minutes he had been safe.

  • A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali by Gill Courtemanche
  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • Double Vision by Pat Barker

Books with similar mood

You Will Be Safe Here

Damian Barr

Someone Else

Tonino Benacquista

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Clare Morrall

Hard Rain

Irma Venter

The Paper Lovers

Gerard Woodward

Stay With Me

Ayòbámi Adébáyò

The Cutting Season

Attica Locke


O Z Livaneli

A Florentine Death

Michele Giuttari

When Red is Black

Qiu Xiaolong

Calling Out For You!

Karin Fossum

The Hamilton Case

Michelle de Kretser

Darwin's Children

Greg Bear


Barbara Nadel

Soul Circus

George Pelecanos

The Cardamom Club

Jon Stock

The Human Stain

Philip Roth

The Dark Room

Rachel Seiffert

High Risk

Matt Dickinson


Barbara Gowdy


Hazel Barkworth

The Death of Rex Nhongo

C B George


Sayed Kashua

The Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician

Tendai Huchu


Elaine Proctor

The Last Gift

Abdulrazak Gurnah

Secret Son

Laila Lalami

The Search

Maureen Myant

The Torso

Helene Tursten

In the Country of Men

Hisham Matar

Land of the Living

Nicci French

The Wonder House

Justine Hardy

The Depths of the Forest

Eugenio Fuentes

Havoc in its Third Year

Ronan Bennett

Friendly Fire

Patrick Gale

Ladies Coupe

Anita Nair

The Angels of Russia

Patricia Le Roy


Ian Watson


Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Small Days and Nights

Tishani Doshi

A Particular Kind of Black Man

Tope Folarin

The Golden Legend

Nadeem Aslam

The Association of Small Bombs

Karan Mahajan

An Honorable Man

Paul Vidich

The Last Treasure Hunt

Jane Alexander

The Alphabet of Birds

S J Naudé

Under the Hawthorn Tree

Ai Mi

Past the Shallows

Favel Parrett

A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

Suzanne Joinson