Pursuit of Ordinary, The

Pursuit of Ordinary, The

Who gets to say what's normal?


After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton, trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. But he can’t forget the crash, can't get the face of the woman cradling her dying husband out of his mind. She stared into his eyes, his soul. He has to find her.

Is Dan ill or has he really been possessed by the spirit of Natalie's dead husband, Joe? If he hasn't, why does she let him into her home so easily? Does she have secrets of her own? The Pursuit of Ordinary is a twisting tale of modern life and mental health where nothing is what it seems...

Following the success of debut novel Beat the Rain, Roundfire introduces the second book from bestselling author Nigel Jay Cooper.


5 stars. The story gets going right away with twists from the beginning and they continue until the end. Though the events are not presented chronologically, Cooper masterfully structures the book and this adds to the story. There are so many elements, such as family, love and mental health. What is mental illness verses simply finding unconventional ways to cope? What is love versus control? Cooper slowly exposes each of these three characters, and we gradually discover the unsettling present and past of each of them. I recommend The Pursuit of Ordinary to those who want to read anything but the ordinary. The complete review will be posted on www.underratedreads.com on the release date of Apr 27. ~ Jacqueline J, NetGalley

The Pursuit of Ordinary is one the most beautifully written books I have ever read, it’s charming, enthralling, thoughtful and delightful but also sad and enlightening. Nat has been married to Joe for a few years; they are in their early thirties having met at University when Joe dies in a car accident in Brighton where they live. Homeless Joe witnesses the car accident and as his eyes meet Nat’s in Joe’s final minutes he finds himself apparently possessed by Joe. It is a credit to Nigel Jay Cooper that this situation seems perfectly plausible as Dan and Joe argue and discuss in Dan’s head. Dan tracks down Nat and the book tells the story alternately from Dan/Joe and Nat’s viewpoints. Hearing both sides of the story is where this book is so skilful - the story is intriguing and in its own way enthralling too. Dan has been mentally ill and Joe’s voice could be a sign of this - so why does Nat let him into her home and trust him so quickly? All three characters are sympathetically portrayed and this is a story of love, hope, loneliness, mental illness and family. I absolutely loved it from first to last page and can not recommend it highly enough - read it!!!! ~ Karen Peterman, Goodreads

This is lip-smackingly good! And what a refreshing change...Invigoratingly different, not one abducted child/psycho ex/tortured sleuth or crazed killer in sight, - bliss! And yet, had someone described the plot of this story to me, I'd have thought 'hmmm sounds rather bizarre'?... So please, I implore you, read it for yourself because even the dulcet tones of Lyndsay Duncan describing it, let alone a big fat bunch of five star reviews (which it's sure to get) could not do this book justice. It is riveting. Yes okay a dead person inhabiting a stranger who watched him die in his wife's arms could, I grant you, sound a tad bizarre, but it is sublimely clever! The three main characters: the wife, the dead husband, and the homeless stranger (promise you there was no mention of a cook or thief), each voice their version of events throughout, and so there is repetition, but for me, this simply hightened the intensity to the point of me feeling at times as though the characters had somehow seeped into my head, almost making me an accomplice?! Goodness knows there's enough room in there. Simply brilliant! I can even forgive the amazing author for the effect page 153 had on my Emetophobia! Mr Cooper I salute you and will most certainly be ordering Beat The Rain as soon as this story has vacated my head! ~ Barbara Beswick, Goodreads

This book is a very long way from ordinary. Brilliantly different concept with great writing throughout. I loved the twists and turns of the plot and found it very hard to put down. 5 Stars. ~ Cath B, NetGalley

Book reviewers are a conservative, brow wrinkling lot and very rarely spew forth superlatives such as brilliant or exceptional when referring to a work by a relatively new author. Nigel Jay Cooper deserves better. Initially I thought this read would be a bit of a chuckle, you know, guy gets hit by a car, his consciousness flies into a derelict guy who happens by; a bit comedic really. Not so. What evolves is a cerebral, closely woven tragedy of use and misuse, of premeditated deception, the conflicting needs of the two (or is it three) main protagonists and the eventual resignation to a co-existence with faults and flaws in tact. For me it was a page turner, an exhausting yet rewarding glimpse into the dark realms of the self. Thanks to NetGalley and Roundfire Books for the privilege of reviewing this work. 5 Stars. ~ Brian Jeffery, NetGalley

Elequently written and beautifully paints images in the mind. The Pursuit of Ordinary is set to be one of the best books of 2018 ~ Lisa Doherty, NetGalley

A very simple cover that encases a wonderful book ... one cannot judge THIS book by its dust jacket for sure. If you loved Before I Go to Sleep or The Girl on the Train, this book is right up your alley and full of twists and shocking turns. Wonderfully written, it kept me guessing right until the end when I found myself saddened that the book was over. READ THIS BOOK!!! MAKE YOUR BOOKCLUB READ THIS BOOK!!! ... You won't be sorry. 5 stars. ~ Janet C, Netgalley

Beautifully crafted and so very unusual. My first impressions of the book as a kind of ghost story were quickly dispelled and I was kept guessing where the story would go. A love story with mental health issues and death at its core, it was thought provoking and deliciously intriguing. Highly recommended. ~ Maureen M, NetGalley

The Pursuit of Ordinary. Ordinary? I don't think so. This book, like Coopers debut novel, Beat the Rain, (which I loved) is extraordinary. His well and sensitively drawn characters engage the reader from the onset. The originality of the plot line with its tantalising twists and turns and the way the narrative unfolds from the seemingly similar, but differing points of view of the three principle characters, has the reader hooked wanting to know if these damaged souls will succeed in their pursuit of becoming ordinary. With many thanks to John Hunt Publishing and Round Fire Books for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. ~ V Williams, NetGalley

Nigel Jay Cooper has given us another great novel! This was an intriguing story from page one. Natalie is dealing with the unexpected loss of her husband when a homeless man claims to be possessed by the dead mans spirit. What happens in the next 300 pages was completely unexpected and interesting. I wanted to know more about each character and it was deliciously delivered with a perfect pace. The characters are well developed and multi dimensional. The author paints a vivid picture of the situation and it felt like I was watching a movie instead of turning pages in a book. It was an engaging look at mental illness, love and relationships. I can't wait for another novel by this fantastic author. ~ Becky N., NetGalley

Where to start about this lovely book? First of all, I've been a fan of Nigel Cooper after reading his debut novel, Beat the Rain which I absolutely loved! Dare I say this one is even better? The plot is so incredibly unique and yet all parts of it work to create a beautiful and heartfelt story that weaves in social commentary without becoming preachy. When Natalie's husband, Joe dies in her arms after a horrific car accident, his spirit enters Dan, a homeless man standing nearby. But how can Dan convince Natalie that he's not a fraud and her dead husband can live on through his memories? Why on earth would she believe him? Shockingly, she appears to as Joe speaks to her with his own accent and relates the lovely and sentimental details of their first date. But there's a discrepancy between appearance and reality. What secrets are they both keeping and why? With marvelously flawed characters and poignant, lovely writing, Cooper speaks to the themes of passion, guilt, redemption, depression, mental illness, and homelessness. And for fans of Beat the Rain, he brings in a cross-over character, Louise which is a treat for those of us who loved that novel. The book will make you laugh and make you cry as the storyline is slowly revealed in voices of Joe, Dan, and Natalie. It will also keep you guessing until the very end; quite simply put, it is superb! ~ Anne F (Educator), NetGalley

This is Nigel Jay Cooper's sophomore novel and he does not disappoint. Last year, I got the chance to read an early copy of The Pursuit of Ordinary. I was thrilled for the opportunity, of course, and quickly jumped to it. This is a captivating Contemporary Fiction novel. It's powerful, plausible, and sound. I think one of Nigel's biggest qualities as an author is his ability to write about the common fellow and see beyond the surface. His characters are real people, just like any of us. His talent is presenting these people as whole individuals. Neither good or bad. He leaves the judgment to us. In The Pursuit of Ordinary, he explores the themes of grief, mental health, and love. How far are we willing to go to avoid the pain? What risks will we take? The storyline is compelling and exciting. His narrative beautifully flows and it unfolds chapter by chapter with the right amount of twists and turns. We meet two people struggling with their circumstances. Their lives collide in an unusual way and we become witnesses to their story. I quickly dived into the story and became invested in their universe. There are pain and grief between the pages, but also tenderness and understanding. As someone who works in the mental health field, I thoroughly appreciated how Nigel presented the subject with dignity and respect. It's refreshing to find a story where a person can struggle with mental health but still be worthy of self-agency and love. We need more books like this! ~ Michelle Downs, Goodreads

The Pursuit of Ordinary is an extraordinary novel. I had to sit back and think about what I thought about the book once I’d finished it. It is a compelling read with complex, emotional, needy, selfish and challenged characters. My views towards the characters changed dramatically as the story unfolded and their true characters and agendas were laid bare, nothing was as it first seemed. A gripping and intense read - don’t expect to put it down until you’ve turned the last page, even then you’ll still be trying to decide if the characters were truly justified in their actions! I was given an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ~ Clare Seel, Goodreads

Another brilliant book from Nigel Jay Cooper - one you won’t forget- for good reasons. Joe was involved in a car accident whilst walking with his wife, but he sees the scene and is able to walk away. He sees his wife cradling a man who is obviously dead. Little by little he realises he is in another man’s body-Dan. Dan is homeless and has issues. Slowly Joe talks to Dan and gets him to pass a note to Joe’s wife. What transpires is rather unusual to say the least. This is a wonderfully creative story with all the depth of character that Nigel writes with ease. A tale of the unexpected, a tale of hope and despair and life. Of smiles, and tears , ups and downs. Friends, lovers and relations. A brilliant concept,beautifully written and a highly enjoyable read. I voluntarily chose to read this ARC and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. ~ Nicki Murphy (Book Blogger), Goodreads

When Joe dies in his wife's arms, his spirit enters Dan, a homeless man, who witnessed the accident. How will Dan convince Natalie that he is not a fraud. We are told the same story from different perspectives and by doing this we get told something new. I found this book quite an emotional read and quickly bonded with the characters. This book is well written, with parts uplifting and other parts sad. I recommend this emotional book. ~ Louise Wilson, GoodReads

This is a complex tale and the people we meet, Natalie and Dan, are multi-layered. As are we all really, but Cooper's talent is to keep on mining below the surface and then again below there. And then there's Joe, the most mysterious character and absolutely key to Natalie and Dan's relationship, but also the least compelling as he lacks, well, pretty much everything. This is a hugely enjoyable book but not one to read lightly. I had some major distractions whilst reading this story and found it very difficult to pick up again after setting it down.But it does deserve the continuous attention it demands. 'The Pursuit of Ordinary could be described as a literary novel in terms of its philosophical stance but that might put off some readers unnecessarily. So, the characters are not very straight-forward, the plot is complex, the timeline can be confusing. But don't be put off because the places, the motivations and the dialogue are really down to earth. And all the threads weave into a very satisfactory ending. 5 stars. ~ Ursula Rutherford, Goodreads

What an intriguing story-line. Dan is a homeless man who witnesses a fatal car accident, he watches as Natalie cradles the head of her dying husband and then disappears! Dan then pops up claiming to be possessed by her dead husband's spirit - what will Natalie do? how will she discover the truth behind the claims? An un-put-a-down-able read that keeps you at the edge of your seat and involved with the twists and turns at every page. 5 stars. ~ Gillian M, NetGalley

This was a fascinating story which gave a real insight into mental health and how things aren't always as they seem! Thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend it to all. ~ Jess Richardson, NetGalley

A book which you want to read in one sitting with numerous twists and turns. A totally different style of writing. Excellent. ~ Denise C, NetGalley

It is difficult for me to write about this book without any spoilers, but I will try as I think the twists are part of the fun. It's the story of Daniel, whose body involuntarily plays host to the mind of Joe, a man he saw dying in a car crash in Western Road, Brighton. Dan is homeless and in bad shape, so it's rather surprising that Natalie, Joe's widow, allows him in when Dan rings her bell and starts explaining to her what brought him to her doorstep. I soon started to realize what the story behind the story might be, but this did not prevent me from enjoying the book. I found the inner dialogues between Dan and Joe quite fascinating, and I admired the way the author enabled me to understand what is going on with just the right number of hints. The Pursuit of Ordinary is the portrayal of two people whose lives have left ordinary paths, and it gives you an idea of how and why this has happened. In spite of their deficiencies, you cannot help hoping it will work out for them in the end. The author tells the story alternating between Joe's and Natalie's point of view, and in particular Joe's narrative provides a lot of suspense. I would like to recommend the book as reading material for students of English starting from level B2 (intermediate/advances). ~ Gabriela S (Educator), NetGalley

One word for this book... brilliant. A must read! 5 Stars. ~ Joanna Gibson, NetGalley

I am not sure what drew me to this book as it is not my usual genre. But I've been right to trust my instincts before so I did so again and, once again, I was rewarded with a really good read. It's a little out of the ordinary, as were the previous couple of books I have read by the same publisher, but hey, different is often good, as it was again in this case...The characterisation was, for me, excellent. It is hard to write wounded characters well so they appear credible...The author here nails this very well. And he also does so with great sensitivity given some of the subject matter. I'd really love to give examples of this here but I fear it would contain spoilers so you'll just have to trust me on that. I will just say that the way that the characters develop through the book, as more of their real selves are exposed, was really something quite special. It was also quite an emotional read, probably because I believed in the characters and was willing to invest in them. But as much as it was, at times, on the sad side, there was always hope bubbling under and there were several really uplifting and indeed moving scenes which made the book as a whole very balanced. I've not read this author's first book Beat the Rain, but on the back of reading this, I will definitely be adding that to my TBR. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. 5 Stars. ~ Kath B, NetGalley

My go to genre is crime and psychological thrillers, but this book looked too good to miss. And it was. It tells the story of Dan, a homeless man who comes across Natalie at the moment her husband Joe is killed when a car hits him. Dan can't get Natalie out of his mind and goes in search of her, but he is also hearing another voice in his head. Dan is obviously damaged, which immediately makes him interesting, and Natalie has her own demons. I don't even know where to start with Joe! The same episodes in the story are told from different perspectives which could easily have led to lazy storytelling, but it doesn't, because there is always something new. I loved that the story is set in Brighton as it's a place I know. I love that it name checks one of my favourite books (you'll need to read it to see!). And I really love that it sensitively deals with some difficult issues - mental health and emotional abuse. This is a book about loss, hope, trust and ultimately love. But I doubt it's like any love story you've read - it's highly original, brilliantly written and definitely worth a read. And it has a really cool cover! 5 stars. ~ Suze Bickerton, Goodreads

Sometimes it feels like there are no original ideas out there for books and I am reading the same basic story over and over. However, The Pursuit of Ordinary by Nigel Jay Cooper is a book that defies categorization. It's a love story - sort of. It also has some mysterious elements, but it's not really a mystery in the classic sense. It's a meditation on psychology and the self. It's a story of redemption. It's a story of survival. It's a story of mental illness. It's a lot rolled into one book and I really enjoyed reading it. We follow Natalie, Joe, and Dan on a journey that takes us in surprising directions, has unexpected reveals, and definitely got me thinking. I found that while I liked the characters, I couldn't always understand their choices. But that is part of what made this fascinating, the exploration of how our minds work and why people make the choices that they do. There is a plot here, but it is primarily a character study, and a very unique one that defies genre. I think Nigel Jay Cooper is only getting better in his writing; I look forward to his third book! ~ Book Girl On Goodreads, NetGalley

What an emotional read this was. Nigel's portrayal of the characters, and his analysis of homelessness and mental health issues is compelling and at the same time caring. The book keeps you guessing from start to finish and you cannot help but feel for the characters, get involved in their lives as their relationships unfold. They could be one of your friends or the couple next door. This is one of those books you can not put down. Another amazing book, very well done. ~ Sara Marin, Goodreads

Excellent story line and great main characters. I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend. ~ Stephanie C, NetGalley

As with Nigel's debut Beat The Rain, this was beautifully written and very clever... just when I thought I knew what was what, the rug was pulled from under me. This novel was 'human' - it has a real heart. It raises so many issues and somehow made me think differently about them, whether that was relationships and love or homelessness and mental health... Challenging things happen to both main characters but it also has a gentler side than Beat The Rain, in my opinion. A great read. I was given an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. The Pursuit of Ordinary is out in April 2018. ~ Andrew Seel, Goodreads

This book is original and thought provoking, it is essentially a love story and is beautifully written with believable characters. I love reading books set in Brighton, and I loved Nigels first book 'Beat the Rain' - very clever how Nigel subtly linked the two. I thoroughly recommend you read this wonderful and intriguing story - especially if you liked 'Beat the Rain'. The book will be published in April 2018. I was given an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ~ Kate Rogers, Goodreads

Beautifully written book that pulls you in from the start. What particularly stood out for me is how well crafted it is - The Pursuit of Ordinary is a wonderful piece of modern fiction.Thought provoking from start to end, the characters and narrative are compelling with twists I didn’t expect. And at its core are themes of love and mental health - Nigel Cooper has created characters so tenderly drawn that you ache for them as their story unfolds. Highly recommend this book to both new readers and those who loved his first novel. The book will be published in April 2018. I was given an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. ~ Caroline Jory, Goodreads

It is difficult to say much about this book without giving much away [and that would be a shame] but what I can say is it's intriguing, at times moving and also amusing as voices argue within heads... an interesting plot looking at relationships, mental illness and asking the question 'what is real'. The story is told about Joe, Dan and Natalie through different voices, often with bits repeated and seen from different perspectives... I liked how your ideas and views changed as you saw the bigger picture. I read this book quickly and that is always a positive sign ... I'll look out for more by Nigel Jay Cooper. ~ Shona Joselin, Goodreads

A book with a twist... A book where you can relate to each of the characters in turn ...it will change the way you think. 5 Stars. ~ Sandra H, NetGalley

A really interesting and intriguing read...I liked that the book came from each character's perspective so that the whole story slowly emerged through the chapters. Definitely a book club read. ~ Emma G, NetGalley

Twisting, hypnotic trip into mental illness, into the disconnect from ordinary. Chilling. The book will not let the reader go, even after the last word has been read. ~ Mollie G, NetGalley Review

Not my usual type of book so it took me a while to get into to start with (not the book's fault, just personal preferences). Having said that, I really enjoyed it, the modern take on things. The story is very well written and very believable, I like the characters and felt they connected with the reader well! I’d recommend 100%, and of its not your usual genre stick with it because it’s worth the read. ~ Kate Bromwich, Goodreads

After reading so many thrillers it was nice to read something original. I don't remember reading anything like The Pursuit of Ordinary before. Though I realised what was happening quite early on it didn't take away the enjoyment from the book. ~ Sue F, NetGalley

A strange triangle, Natalie, dead husband Joe and homeless man Dan, with Brighton as a backdrop... This is a complex and intriguing story with its share of flawed characters which certainly kept me gripped! ~ Irene A, NetGalley

A complex story of highly flawed people. I don't know what to say without spoilers. There is a great deal of sadness and regret, but there are equal (greater?) parts hope and redemption. 4 stars. ~ Kamini Mehta, Goodreads

This is a captivating story of a homeless man, who, upon witnessing an accident, appears to have taken on the spirit of the dead man. It's well written and the 3 main characters of Dan, Joe and Natalie are well rounded and interesting...kept my interest throughout. ~ Sharon A, NetGalley

Roundfire Books brings us another homerunner. The Pursuit of Ordinary is an intriguing novel - actually a feel-good novel though it incorporates spousal abuse, grief, mental illness and a touch of romance. The characters are charismatic, the story line tense and the tale well told. I happily recommend it to friends and family. Nigel Jay Cooper is an author to watch out for. ~ Bonnye Reed, NetGalley

The storyline was well presented and easily flowed - and the characters were believable. This was the first book by this author I have read, I will now look forward to reading others. 4 Stars. ~ Penny C, NetGalley

Original and compelling, The Pursuit of Ordinary is perfectly paced and beautifully written. ~ Colette McBeth, author of An Act of Silence

An author with a truly compelling insight into the human condition. ~ Siobhan Kennedy, Channel 4 News

Cooper has a rare knack for presenting flawed characters in a way that makes the reader care about them. ~ Love Reading blog

This novel has a very striking premise which Nigel Cooper executes with great skill. He gets under the skin of his characters and gradually reveals the psychological wheels within wheels of his two main characters Daniel and Natalie. A fascinating read. ~ Jane Lythell, author of The Lie of You

Nigel Jay Cooper has the ability to grip the reader in a fashion I have never before experienced. ~ Lisa Doherty, Book Blogger, Rambling Lisa’s Book Reviews

Nigel's works have a knack of grabbing me and pulling me in so that I can't put them down. ~ Nikki Murphy, Book Blogger, Nikki's Book Blog

A new voice. Fresh and different. ~ Maha Diwan, Book Blogger, Mesha’s Corner

Nigel Jay Cooper
Nigel Jay Cooper Writer and author, born in London, England. He now lives in Brighton (via Nottingham) with his partner, their two children and greying ginge...
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