A young boy coming into his own, Paul Robertson's story is detailed in a wonderful manner. Mr. Nobbs pens a fantastic story of how the choices a person makes can lead to their current situation. This story is basically a "what-if" story with a West Side Story theme. The two opposing sides are Villagers and Townies. The Townies are the blue collar worker families. The Villagers are the white collar or "rich" families. These two shall never meet. This is the unwritten rule that all follow.
Paul is a guy who marches to his own drum beat. He is the nicest guy and on top of it, he does what he thinks is right, regardless of what others say. He is classified as a Villager and he's fine with it. This is until one day he sees the head Villager, Clarissa, being physically accosted. He defends her and this begins the start of Villagers and Townies mixing.
The start of this story is very slow. Mr. Nobbs spend a good deal of time building the world and explain the intricacies in the relationships. It's a nice mini-cosmos for cultural studies - watching children of different families interact. When a catalyst occurs, the change in this world is alarming for some and great for others.
Without giving away spoilers, Paul's decision to become a friend of someone who is supposedly not in his social class, it starts a chain of reactions. The predictable nature of how this goes does not detract from the story. The story follows a logical path and as each comingling of the two groups increase, more issues arise. What is interesting is Paul's perspective. He is the good guy who brings out the best in everyone. He's quick to defend and slow to anger. He's also the kind of guy who will explore and determine the facts before he makes a decision. Even when he makes a decision, it's not a judgment. He is the least judgmental character in this book. To say he is mature would be an understatement. Even though Paul shows great maturity, through the adversity, he grows up even more. He is a guy who doesn't believe in drama and helps smooth out the rough edges for others. He's a natural born diplomat. Now, Mr. Nobbs didn't make Paul perfect. Paul does have flaws and it makes him more human are relatable.
This story is definitely character driven and it's a pleasure to read. At times there are sections which seems slow. Mr. Nobbs does a good job of moving it along with good dialog and great description. He's a storyteller who shows rather than tells. Overall, this book is interesting to read and captures a reader's attention. The ending is a bit of a shock and sets it up perfectly for the next book. This book is recommended for New Adult readers who are looking for a well written book showing the good, bad and ugly of humanity. This book shows that one person can make a difference in other people's lives and it can be positive.