“Such a funny, sad and tender story.”

HORATIO CLARE, author of Heavy Light

“A wonder of a novel; a charming blend of youth, humour and mid-life longing.”

JAMES RICE, author of Alice and the Fly

The Former Boy Wonder

It’s a rainy August in Manchester and music writer Peter Duffy’s life is falling apart. He’s knocking on fifty, his career is flatlining, his marriage is failing, and his teenage son barely speaks to him.

And then a friend from university days invites him to a party at the manor house where he met his first love, the dazzling Sanchia Page. All the old gang are going to be there, and although it’s a long shot, maybe she will, too, which wouldn’t be helpful. Or would it?

Praise for ‘The Former Boy Wonder’

“Have you ever looked back on life and wondered “What if?” That’s the question laced through Robert Graham’s engaging new novel. Part love story, part mid-life crisis, we follow our flawed hero on his nostalgic mission in an intriguing, evocative read.”

Daily Mirror and Daily Express

The Former Boy Wonder, Robert Graham’s playful and extraordinarily well-observed coming-of-old-age novel, is a book with enormous heart, cloaked in wit and wry intertextuality.”

Everybody’s Reviewing

“If I could summarise my experience of reading The Former Boy Wonder, it would be that I was captivated from beginning to end. It has been a while since I’ve been sucked into a reading portal, where I promised myself to read just one more chapter and before I know it I read half the book. The Former Boy Wonder did just that.”


“I devoured The Former Boy Wonder in just a few days as I was so invested in Peter’s life. Graham is a wonderful writer and I wish I could read the novel again for the first time and experience Peter looking back on his past whilst rebuilding his present.”


“Peter Duffy is one of those narrators that you can’t help but like, even when he infuriates you, and The Former Boy Wonder is both funny and poignant. It would make a great TV series.”


“This is a poignant novel, with real insights into the emotions of someone who is struggling with his role as a father and a husband. Peter Duffy is a hopeless romantic, with a tendency toward fantasy. There’s a real sense of sadness in the situation he finds himself in, but as in real life, there are moments of joy, humour and above all hope. Manchester, the novel’s setting, is more than simply a backdrop. It’s almost a character in its own right. Picturing locations I knew and recognised, both past and present, gave me the chance to revisit aspects of my own past, not just geographically but emotionally, too. That’s a powerful experience.”

NICKY CREWE, LouderThanWar

“I kept picturing lipstick traces on a cigarette and hearing late-night records, the kind you play to conjure up a golden age. This wonder boy’s song brings a romantic’s past to life on the page and reveals the secret fears behind it.”

JEFF YOUNG, Costa Award-Shortlisted author of Ghost Town

“Emotive and really leaves a mark on your heart.”


“A character-driven, bittersweet story that makes you think about what’s important in life. I would definitely recommend this novel.” @BOOKSWITHBECKY

“I warmed to Peter’s story as he traversed Manchester trying to understand where his life is heading and felt enormous sympathy for Lucy, his wife, who seems to be the only one keeping things afloat. The Former Boy Wonder is a fascinating glimpse into the trials and tribulations of growing older.”


“Robert Graham is at his best here observing the minutiae of everyday life, the compromises couples make, the small quotidian triumphs and disasters. Peter Duffy, the first-person narrator, is self-critical, and at times emotionally wounded by self-doubt. The tone, however, is generally light, even when dealing with the mental turmoil that he finds himself in. This very affecting novel shows off Graham’s talent for finding the remarkable in the ordinary.”

Shiny New Books

“The Former Boy Wonder keenly observes the way people change as they age and offers a full, unobstructed view of a mid-life man. @Lou_Bookmarks

“I loved this wonderfully written love letter to Manchester.”


“A reminder of how gloriously painful it is to be young and eager… A strong sense of period and place is threaded through the story – the housing, nightlife and gentrification of both Manchester and London. The popular music of Peter’s youth adds to the atmosphere, and the slow-motion car crash of his life held me in its thrall.”


“The blend of humour with melancholy created a wonderful tone for the whole narrative and made it such a pleasure to read.”


“The narrator of Robert Graham’s The Former Boy Wonder is so relatably vulnerable that I almost forgot I was reading fiction. I wanted Pete Duffy to learn, I wanted him to see what he has and appreciate it – and I loved Graham’s funny, authentic voice.”


“Robert Graham’s The Former Boy Wonder provides a refreshing perspective on the mid-life crisis, a generous view of a middle-aged man trying to make sense of the chaos around him, and from the beginning, you cannot help but root for Peter Duffy.”

The Indiependent

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It took me through a range of emotions, made me laugh, made me cry and made me think.”


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