Quercus, March 2018
Love was holding your breath until they texted you. Love was waiting for them to decide that you're good enough.
Sarah should be happy; she has a loving boyfriend, a lovely house, a job she loves and the means to pursue her art. But she’s haunted by an affair with Matthew which consumed her whole life; she loved him, even though he was twenty years older than her and only ever wanted to see her in secret. She lost friends, the respect of her father and her job, all because of her obsession… so why can’t she forget him? And love is supposed to hurt, isn’t it?
I am a big fan of Louise O’Neill’s cutting feminist fiction; she’s not afraid to create dark, complicated characters and to let them hurt and fail and fuck up. Sarah is not particularly likeable, and her decisions are, at times, maddening, but as you follow along with her disastrous affair and the way it sends shockwaves through her life, you’ll find yourself hoping for the best for Sarah, anyway. I think a lot of the power of this book is in the fact that Sarah is quite unlikeable, but you can still see the ways in which unhealthy narratives about love and women have worked their way into her brain, and the ways in which Matthew abuses his power and privilege over her to get what he wants.
It’s not my favourite Louise O’Neill book - I think Only Ever Yours is burned into my soul - but she is very good at what she does, and this book is almost as addictive as the affair it depicts. Just don’t hold out too much hope for a happy ending…
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