Book Review : The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney

 

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Thanks, in part, to that Tinder/Booze hiatus I went on earlier this year I find I have become a glutton for books. On my recent trip to Mauritius (aka ‘Love’ Island), despite having two other forms of holiday reading in my bag, I ended up buying a copy of Fionnuala Kearney’s Book of Love at Cape Town International Airport. I’d never read anything by the author but it was something like No.8 on the Exclusive Books bestseller list, and seeing as I’d pretty much read most of the other top books, I figured why not. On the surface, it looks like a typical easy piece of chick lit, perfect for a beach vacation. But once you start reading, you’ll learn that there is a little bit more substance to it than you might expect.

So the book is basically about the ups and downs of the 20 year relationship between its two protagonists, Erin and Dom and each chapter is written from one of their perspectives. They are a young couple, from fairly different walks of life who fall madly in love at a young age, with her getting knocked up and them having to have a shot-gun wedding, despite much objection from various family members. Anyway, on their wedding day, Erin’s dad, Fitz gives the couple a leather book aptly called ‘The Book of Love’. His instructions are that they are to a) use the book to communicate with one another when some issue arises that they can’t really handle or find hard to discuss face to face and b) always end their entries by focusing on something they love about the other person. Naturally, at first they are both a little cynical about the book but as time goes on, they start experiencing blips in their relationship and begin using the book they see that the old man’s way has some benefits.

As the story progresses, the couple experiences their fair share of really shitty things (I’ll refrain from providing any spoilers) and there are times that they work at their relationship and other times where they (temporarily) walk away from it. But the book does become a useful source of communication for the couple. When they disclose they way of communicating, the do receive some judgement from their friends too. But essentially, beyond all the BS, misunderstandings and life’s curve balls, the couple do essentially love each other and that’s the main point of it all.

All in all, I found it to be a well-written novel about a real warts-and-all relationship. Of course it had a few LOLs here and there and lots of heartwarming moments but most all it was a good reminder that relationships are rarely ever smooth sailing as much as social media would have us believe otherwise. Personally, I’m a big fan of vomiting my feelings out in writing (no shit Sherlock – I do it on this blog all the time) so I can see how Erin and Dom’s method of working through their issues by communicating in writing would work. Obviously, it would be nice if we could always say what we wanted to say in person but its not always that easy. Furthermore, vocalising one’s feelings isn’t necessarily the best form of communication either. A lot of people, myself included, tend to get overly-emotional when talking about sensitive issues and it’s often easy to say things you don’t mean in the heat of the moment. I also think a key point is that her dad’s instructions said that each note had to end on a positive and needs to basically be a reminder that despite whatever calamity had occurred that they do still love each other.

As I said, it’s a very real story and as such you find yourself really feeling for the characters, despite their flaws. So much so in fact, that you might find yourself balling your eyes out on a plane, like yours truly.  So yup, if you are looking for a fairly easy read, that won’t simply patronise you but likely reassure you that your somewhat less than peachy relationship is perfectly normal, this’ll probably do the trick. As you may already know, I’m quite British ‘stiff-upper lip’, when it comes to my views on therapy being something slightly first world and a bit self-indulgent but I suppose there are always different ways to deal with one’s issues both in and out of a relationship. And as much as people (yes, me!) might be judgey about whatever it is you do to cope with life’s low points, whether its blogging out your feelings for the world to see, reading a tonne of self-help, or forking out for a professional to listen as talk through your issues, it really is a case of different strokes for different folks when it comes to such things. And I suppose and it gets you through the situation somehow without causing too much damage, you just need to figure out what works for you and works best in terms of your circumstances.

Alrighty, Rinsers. Have you read it? If so, what are your thoughts? And do you have any quirky ways of dealing with life’s curve balls? In your opinion, whats the best way to communicate in a relationship? Sharing is caring. Comments below. Please and thank you. 

 

4 comments

  1. I haven’t read the book because you write such amazing chick lit reviews I don’t want to compete 😉 Jokes aside, I think it’s a cool and compassionate review and if I didn’t have an ever-growing list of books to read I would totally read it. I think that writing is totally underrated. I’m not sure whether it’s true for everyone but I know many people who express themselves better in writing and they should use it as a tool to go through ups and downs in any relationships.

    In fact, I use writing a lot to smooth disagreements out. I’m very emotional and sensitive so having a fight with my partner/friend really drains me. Conflict makes me want to first shout and then cry in a-face-to-face disagreement and I often do, which doesn’t solve any issues. In writing I can express my point properly, because I can take my time to say what I want to say and use just the right words even if I’m busy crying as I do so. If there was no written communication I would have had no husband (literally, we started off by correspondence on okcupid) nor friends!

    I think we’re a bit obsessed these days with “talking things over” and written communication should be recommended more as a way of solving problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree writing things down is the way forward and its definitely underutilized. Although, as with SMS/Whatsapp communications…it has its risks in terms of miscommunication (there are things that sometimes need to be said in person).

    Sometimes, its good just to write things down for yourself. Have you ever seen that Netflix movie – ‘To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before’. It is one of those semi-cringe-worthy teen stories. Basically, the girl writes letter to all her crushes, because for whatever reason she can’t tell them to their face. She never intends for those letter to be seen be the guys, its kinda just therapy for her to get them out of her system. Well, I have notebooks full of letters to exes, that I’ve never sent. Sometimes, once you read back over something you may also realise whatever you wanted to say sounds quite ridiculous and its better just left on paper.

    All in all, I think writing lets you take a step back and process your feelings/emotions without letting them take over and potentially do irreversible damage to a relationship.

    Like

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