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Sunday 28 August 2022

Review: GERALD PHILEY'S EURO-DIARY by Brendan James

"Could there be a world of interest and adventure beyond the Midlands?  A world of confidence, sex and excitement?  A better life - a better me?"

These are the questions Gerard Philey grapples with over New Year, 1995. Sitting in his rented Black Country room, reflecting on his thankless teaching job and miserable love life, he courageously decides to abandon his humdrum existence and embark on a quest for Euro-fulfilment, fun and fitness on the Continent.

After a shaky start in Brussels, events manoeuvre him to Amsterdam where chance encounters shift his world well and truly into fifth gear. He samples the trials and tribulations of new relationships, alongside managing a sex shop in the city’s Red Light Area – on top of the challenges of fat-free living and international travel!

Through his bittersweet diary, we see how Gerard steers a laugh-out-loud course through farcical episodes and fanciful characters...and how entanglements from past and present draw him unwittingly into a criminal underworld where events ultimately take their toll.

It has been a pleasure to read and review this light-hearted page-turner, in which a stuck-in-a-rut schoolteacher makes a snap decision to leave his life of drudgery in the Midlands and take full advantage of the new-found freedoms offered by the Maastricht Treaty.  He sets off on a new adventure which takes him to a new and exciting life in the buzzing heart of Amsterdam.

It's difficult to say too much about this highly enjoyable book without giving away the plot.  But suffice it to say that the author brings the Dutch capital vividly to life through the eyes of the hapless and naïf protagonist, who comes across as a lovable adult version of Adrian Mole.

The book gives a lovely insight into life in Amsterdam in the mid-1990s - and is a poignant and bitter-sweet reminder of what was subsequently stolen from the British people by the disaster that is Brexit.

Purchase Link -


Brendan James is the author of the new comedy novel Gerard Philey’s Euro-Diary: Quest for a Life. Though this is his first novel, he has a large number of non-fiction publications (under the name Brendan Bartram) as a former university lecturer and researcher. A passionate linguist and Europhile, he spent a number of years working in the Netherlands, France and Germany. He lives in the West Midlands with his husband.

Social Media Links – 

Goodreads -

LinkedIn -

Twitter - @Brendan23015569

Huge thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.  Do check out the other posts (details below).

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