No. of pages: 267
Synopsis: Out of the womb in 1871, Max Tivoli looked to all the world like a tiny 70-year-old man. But inside the aged body was an infant. Victim of a rare disease, Max grows physically younger as his mind matures. In Andrew Sean Greer's finely crafted novel, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Max narrates his life story from the vantage point of his late fifties, though his body is that of a 12-year-old boy. He has known since a young age that he is destined to die at 70, and he wears a golden "1941" as a constant reminder of the year he will finally perish in an infant form. His mother, a Carolina belle concerned over her son's troubling appearance, curses Max with "The Rule": "Be what they think you are". Max fails to keep this Rule only a handful of times in his life, but it is the burden of living by it that wounds him and slowly alienates him from the people he loves.
Review: Max is born with the body of a 70 year old, and ages backwards over his life, so when he's 17, he actually looks in his 50's and this is very tough for Max. But his Mother told him to live by only one rule, and that's to be what they expect him to be. So when he looks 50, he has to act 50, even though he's only a young man inside. This makes simple things such as friendship and love very tough for Max, and so he writes the memoir of his backwards life.
This is very like the film of The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, which I saw a few weeks ago and really enjoyed, but I wasn't expecting them to be so alike in storyline. However, if you enjoyed that film, or even that short story, you are sure to be a fan of Max. I really found the book enjoyable, and thought the characters were really well written and easy to empathise with. The ending came as a bit of a surprise, not in a bad way, it just was just unexpected and I never would have guessed it. I would say this a good book for fans of books set around 1900, as it really is full of life from that time, which is great to read about.