At age 72, retired British civil servant Charles Chadwick debuts with an ambitious, charming novel that clocks in at nearly 700 pages. Despite its heft, and the fact that practically nothing happens in it, It’s All Right Now set off a bidding war and garnered a six-figure deal in England. That’s due to Chadwick’s antihero, Tom Ripple, a divorced father of two and retiree. Punning, perverted, curious, self-loathing, and befuddled, Ripple is a painfully real and darkly comic creation: a man who likes looking at girls, watching TV, smoking cheroots, and that’s about it. Ripple’s voice is so fresh and strangely free that we cheer him on as he takes baby steps toward becoming a decent human being. But couldn’t he have learned to appreciate classical music and to like his children in, say, 400 pages?