This is a story of a young boy who, naturally enough, turns into a young man. This young man just cannot make up his mind about what to study, what to believe in or what to think of anything. It's one of those coming-of-age novels about young men trying to find their place in the world, of finding your own opinions and ethics without just adopting a pre-defined set of standards. Sadly I can relate to Philips inability to maintain any motivation for... anything, really. It's not a story about a charming, sweet man that you fall for, but about a man you recognize your own failures in. I completely agree with Philip's appraisal that giving up something you were supposed to be good at but turned out being mediocre at is an incredible sign of strength, and as such, Philip is a likable, very real character. He is also an asshole. He's vain, selfish, self-obsessed and only does nice things when he gets a guilty conscience. In short, the author has actually (and this is rare) understood the true nature of your average human being. While reading typical feminine prose about all-consuming love I have often wondered what the man's take on things would be. What is he thinking about while this woman is wasting her every breath on him? Philip gives the answer: he doesn't think about anything. Whereas some women fall for Philip, for a long time he himself seems unable to fall for anyone. He enjoys the idea of falling in love and being consumed by passion, but when the opportunity presents itself, he is mostly just disgusted. The women he meets aren't breathtakingly beautiful, they have coarse skin, thin lips and flat chests. He goes through with things, likes the idea of what he is doing (having an affair or whatever), but his heart is never in it, and while the woman falls madly in love with him, he can't wait to get away and find something real. In that respect he is not very sympathetic, he leads them on and then just... forgets about them. However, this is a long book and I couldn't possibly comment upon it all; it really feels like you are taking part of someone's life. Lots of different things happen during the course of Philip's life, and he is both frustratingly proud and stuck-up, and incredibly full of insight. All in all, this is a great book. Not an all-consuming read that you can't put down, but a book full of wisdom and observations that make you think. It also has a message, but not in the annoying way. I really liked the message.