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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Living With Jo by John Hughes is a dark comedy about a lonely man who imagines he’s in a romantic relationship with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of his heroine, Joanna Lumley.

Oliver Birch feels lonely and isolanted until, much in the manner of Tom Hanks’ volleyball Wilson in Castaway, he forms an attachment to a cardboard cut-out of Joanna Lumley. He spiral into delusion, chatting with her and often answering himself back in her voice, until he is sectioned. After he forms bonds with his fellow patients, he learns about empathy and kindness, and discovers what he really wants in life.

Living With Jo by John Hughes on The Table Read
Living With Jo

This quirky, funny and affectionate novel is underpinned by John Hughes’ own experiences working for the NHS, and from his own life with a cardboard Joanna Lumley.

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Living With Jo

Who doesn’t dream of finding the love of their life? Lonely, quirky Oliver Birch certainly does, and he knows who she is. He’s adored her from afar for thirty years.   But there’s a problem. Joanna is happily married to somebody else.   Then, one day, out of the blue, she arrives at his apartment. And not just to visit. She’s here to stay.  

For Oliver its a dream come true, provided he can keep a handle on where two-dimensional fantasy ends and reality begins. Will she be his saviouror will she gradually drive him towards the unwelcome hands of a psychiatrist?

Living with Jo is a love story with a difference. It explores a world familiar to many who find themselves single and adrift in later life. Sometimes they come across unusual and imaginative ways to fill emotional gaps in their lives. In Oliver’s case, it’s an imaginative step too far …

John Hughes on The Table Read
John Hughes

John Hughes

“Like Oliver, I met Joanna Lumley thirty years ago and have a life-sized cardboard cut-out of her in my living room. It’s what gave me the idea for the book. What would happen to someone in similar circumstances with a tenuous grasp on reality? I sent Joanna a copy of the book and she sent back ‘a thousand thanks’. That’s a gift in itself!”

manuscript editing

Born in Sutton Coldfield in the English Midlands, John Hughes studied music at Royal Holloway College before moving to Surrey in adulthood. He’s worked as a piano seller at Harrods, as a keyboard player in a tribute band, as a magazine editor, and most recently in management in the NHS.

He has written half a dozen non-fiction books and Living with Jo is his third published novel. He has also written a collection of short stories – How to Steal a Piano.

Find Living With Jo now:

Published by Austin Macauley Publishers, Living With Jo is available in paperback (£9.09) and Kindle format (£3.50) on Amazon UK:

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