The only catch is that the total novice is going to have to get someone to load the CD in the first place.
This book is aimed at computer illiterates, the sort of people who are frightened to switch on a computer. Topics start with clicking mouse buttons and move on to the icons and task bar. The tutorials of the standard Windows accessories and the display settings should give most total novices the skills and confidence to stay with it and tackle other programs. The book is a lot of text with screen shorts interspersed.
As a book the verdict from my wife (a well-known computer Luddite) was the layout was poor and it was generally boring. She would not read it. However the accompanying CD is a different kettle of fish.
The CD contains a well-constructed tutorial that is an integrated mixture of video and screen cam style presentation (with sound). Although the whole thing can be viewed from end to end sections can also be viewed individually. It follows the same schedule as the book. This helps for revision or reading-up before watching the section.
The system works well, particularly for things like showing 'click and drag' in both live video and screen cam. This will give the novice a clear understanding of the basics that will enable them to tackle the rest. I like the screen cam idea more than the educational videos as it demonstrates on the target PC. This gives a far better look and feel than watching a video.
The topics covered are the very basic ones but these basic skills are the ones that will let novices confidently explore further.
The only catch is that the total novice is going to have to get someone to load the CD in the first place. If you can stand the accents and the sincere smiles this is a very good basic trainer. It is not cheap unless you have several people to train.