I was browsing through an email from a bookshop the other day and I came across a picture of this book.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom will be 20 years old later this year and it is probably at least 15 years since I last read it, so I thought it was time for a return visit.
I can remember thinking this book was brilliant the first time I read it – and I still think it’s a damn good excuse for a novel.
Eddie, our protagonist, is an 83-year-old fairground worker and widower. He fought in the Army in the Philippines and then followed in his father’s footsteps and became the maintenance guy at Ruby Pier, a seaside fairground.
Pretty soon in this book, Eddie is killed by a falling ride car. That’s not a spoiler, this is about the five people he meets in heaven so you must have guessed he was going to die reasonably quickly.
When he gets to the ‘other side’ after his fatal accident, Eddie finds five people waiting to meet him. They are there to help him understand what he thinks of as his wasted life.
I can remember when I read this first time round being surprised at the people selected to explain Eddie’s life to him.
I’m glad, though, that the characters chosen are a little left field. To have his closest friends and family saying wonderful things about him and making him feel valued wold have been too trite.
This novel has a touch of sentimentality about it but manages to keep the right side of the slush line.
Albom writes with a style that makes this book easy reading – easy enough to start and finish in one session.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a gentle book which shows how a life interacts with others, whether that is noticeably or not. I like it.
And, when it was published in September 2003, other people liked it too. It spent a total of 95 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.