The plot summary itself of this novel anticipates a humoristic read as the situation that protagonist Jack finds himself in is not exactly a regular occurrence. In the midst of a fresh divorce with Australian wife Cindy, Jack’s compulsive lottery ticket purchasing ends up winning him a whopping 2.3 million pounds – an amount that an average bloke like Jack would only ever dream of. Novelist Tom Alan is based in the Valencia region and engages the reader at the very start of his novel by foreshadowing that ironically, winning the lottery (which usually is a good thing) will in fact be Jack’s curse.
Jack spends a good amount of time trying to hide his victory from wife Cindy, which ultimately ends up further complicating his divorce and keeps him tied to her. In his quest for something – anything, to cling onto after his train- wreck of a divorce with Cindy, Jack finds himself depending needlessly on receiving the money from the lottery in order to rediscover some form of happiness.
In the prologue, the reader already receives a good indication of the writer’s tone and Jack’s lighthearted personality with hints of his sarcasm already embedded. The whole novel is in fact interlaced with witty comments, comedic wordplay, and purposefully ill-timed bouts of English colloquialisms and curse words, which reflect Jack’s bantering persona and showcase his natural linguistic abilities; being an English teacher and all.
Alan further accentuates his affinities to multi-culturalism by incorporating Hispanic phrases, Australianisms, and Valencian references, adding another dimension to the story-telling.
Jack’s comedic inner monologue is effective in deflecting any kind of hardship of depression which would expectedly be associated with divorce, providing a refreshingly neutral perspective on a naturally heavy subject.
‘Hitting the Jackpot’ does not fail to entertain, as Alan’s clever structure of incorporating short chapters labelled with intriguing titles entice the reader to want to continue in order to desperately find out what happens next.
One of the main themes of the novel is love and relationships, which Jack certainly does not fall short of; he must be a real catch. In a series of dramatic twists and turns, we see Jack sharing memories of his marriage with Cindy whilst meeting new women such as Puerto Rican María and newfound crush Milly.
As Jack falls head over heels in love with Milly; Tom Alan proposes the moral question of choosing between love and money. And so Jack, having always been somewhat of a softie deep down, has to make the potentially liberating decision of perhaps giving it all up for love. You’ll have to read the novel to find out what happens!
Hence, in a tale of love, luck, and relationships, Tom Alan reminds us of the most vital and inevitable element of the human condition – true love, and its ability to conquer all else. It remains clear that despite those who go through heartbreak, those who go through divorce, those who have lost someone important to them, those who don’t believe in love, or those who haven’t experienced true love in a long time if not ever, love continues to persist. It is omnipresent, and it will always find a way to you in some form, so long as you keep an open heart.
Report by Melissa McCrow
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
‘Hitting the Jackpot’ by Tom Alan, published 2023, publisher: Bloodhound Books.