Sunday, October 2, 2016

Everything Love Is

Title:  Everything Love Is
Author:  Claire King
Publication Information:  Bloomsbury. 2016. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1632865386 / 978-1632865380

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It was May, 1968 and there was a woman on a train."

Favorite Quote:  "None of us know how long love will last, how long life will last, which of us will suffer illness and which of us will remain healthy. Who will be the carer and who the patient. We all hope there will be someone there to take care of us. We build families and societies around ourselves so that we will not be left alone. Most of us fall in love when we are young and healthy and can't imagine half the things life will show us. We are playing a blind hand. It is only much later we find out what love really is and by that time, hypothetically, it's already too late to fold."

The dictionary defines the word love as both a noun and a verb. Love is a strong affection for someone. To love is to feel affection for someone and to hold some dear. In other words, love happens, but love is also undertaken each and every day.

"I had never been looking for the happy ending you find in books. That's not the kind I believe in. They are simplistic constructs that make it easier for us to bear the long continuum of our stories. But no one ever ends at the end. After the lovers kiss and the last page is turned, their lives barrel on messily towards the grave and maintaining some kind of happy ending is an ongoing battle. If you don't keep that in mind, happiness will slip through your fingers like water." In other words, love takes work. A person loves another because of, regardless of, and sometimes in spite of the circumstances.

That idea is the heart of this book. It is very difficult to talk about this book without talking about what it is about. Yet, avoid reading any topical discussions of the this book for the guessing and the confusion is part of the story. Yes, the book is confusing because narrators changes, viewpoints change, and often without warning and without names. It is at times hard to follow who the "I" in the story is at a given moment. The final realization of why this happens is the impact of this book, and it is well worth the wait.

This book is completely its characters. Baptiste Molino is a therapist living on a houseboat in Toulouse. Sophie is a young woman who works nearby and who becomes his friend; many try to fathom the nature of their relationship but without much success. Amandine Rousseau enters Baptiste's life as a client, but the relationship blossoms to so much more. In addition, there is a nameless narrator. The book shifts between Baptiste's point of view and the perspective of this narrator. Who this person is and what this person's story is comes back to the main theme of the book. "I have never had the courage to try and convince you that things are anything other than how you perceive them. Your reality is what it is and I am a time traveller, privileged to meet these spectral versions of you that otherwise I would never have seen. Since I appear to be living with not only you, but all of your ghosts, I may as well fall in love with you all."

This cast of four with other surrounding minor characters create a memorable and poetic picture of what people do to love someone and to show their love for someone. The book is sweet and tragic and so full of love. There is no formula to this love story, no packaged endings, just real life.

Mind you, the book is not easy to read. It takes focus and concentration especially at the beginning to keep straight what you are reading and whose perspective you see at that moment. Once I get to the point of realizing what the book is about, I find myself re-reading the beginning with a whole new understanding and really feeling the emotion behind the words. The book is not easy, but persevere. It is well worth it.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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