Today I am very excited to be a part of Adèle Geras’s Blog Tour, featuring her newest novel „Love, or the Nearest Offer”. Double excited, I would say, as this book is my first read by this author, which I personally also find unbelievable and incredible. But, as they say, better late than never, right? Hope you enjoy my review of this very exceptional novel.
Love, or Nearest Offer
by Adèle Geras
Publishing Date: 2nd June 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!.
Number of pages: 384
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
What if your estate agent could find you not just your perfect house, but your perfect job, your perfect partner… your perfect new life?
On paper, Iris Atkins is an estate agent, but she’s not just good at finding suitable houses for her clients. In fact, she has a gift: Iris is able to see into their lives and understand exactly what is missing and what they need – and not just in bricks-and-mortar terms either.
Of course, concentrating so much on fixing other people’s problems doesn’t leave much time for examining your own. Over the course of one whirlwind year Iris discovers that while she may know what’s best for everyone else, she doesn’t necessarily know what’s best for herself – and what she finds out could make her happier than she’d ever dreamed of.
Oh man. It may sound unbelievable, in fact I myself can’t believe it, but I’ve just checked and „Love, or Nearest Offer” is my first book by Adele Geras. Gulp. I’ve heard tons about this author and I’ve really no idea why I haven’t come across her previous novels, but well, on the other hand, I now have a great backlog list of all her titles to read, ha. And as I loved the synopsis to „Love, or Nearest Offer”, I really couldn’t wait for my copy.
The book started with chapters introducing all the characters to us, and I thought in a moment that if I am going to read about a new character again, I probably am going to start to bang my head on the wall. There were so many characters at the beginning, and it took some time before their stories started to intertwine with each other (when there are so many characters in a book I like their stories to connect somehow, it makes a sense for me, because I always think, why to write about different characters that have nothing in common in one book?). But when the stories finally started to interlock, I also started to enjoy the book much more. Each of the character has their own story, and the thing they have in common is the fact that they are all house hunting, and in the end they are almost best friends.
The story mostly resolves around Iris, who is an estate agent, and not your usual one! She doesn’t hesitate to go an extra mile or two and to postpone a sale or two to find the perfect house for all of her clients. Also – she must have a sixth sense when it comes to relationships, as she loves to play a matchmaker. In a very gentle, not imposing way, I’d say, no meddling involved and all borders preserved – I liked Iris. She was the right person on the right place, she was friendly and had tons of patience in her. I had only one big problem with her – in a moment about this. But – so actively trying to help other people, is she going to forget about her own happiness?
Iris’s current list of clients consists of Patrick, the artist, travelling between England and New York. Patrick, that has something magic in him and soon, very soon, Iris finds herself very drawn to him. Then we have the quiet, lovely widower Aidan, who spent all of his life living under the shadow of his late wife who decided about everything, starting with his clothes and finishing with the place where they used to spent their holidays. But Aidan was happy living like this, he, in fact, never realised that he can live differently. That is, till he decides to sell his house and one day literally crashes into Vina, the other client of Iris. Vina is divorced, her adult children have their own lives already and she has a feeling she must move, leave the house that hides so many memories, not always the nicest ones. And also on Iris’s list is Josie, a young mum of Zak dreaming of a house with garden and a puppy, instead of the designer flat she’s living in with her husband, but Will is not so keen on moving and commuting to work.
But back to my very big problem with Iris. I liked her, but I couldn’t cotton on to her totally, and there was one simple reason why – namely, her love life. We get to know her when she and her boyfriend Neil have just split up, though Neil quickly starts to try to persuade Iris that they are better together than apart. Iris is confident that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore, he is controlling and everything must be just like he wants it to be, and even though everybody around, her best friends and her mother tell her she should reconsider, Iris is sure that her decision is right. However, and I really, really don’t know why, I couldn’t understand her, from time to time she let Neil or the others to convince her and go with Neil to the restaurant, or she herself invites him to an opening, and they often end in bed together. And I thought, really, Iris? So do you want to end this relationship or not? What do you need to open your eyes? It bothered me, really, because altogether she was such a great person and I just couldn’t understand her actions.
Actually, the female characters in this novel were not as strong as I’d like them to be. Josie was whingey, needy and childish, and even though I understood her in her need to have the house, I know the feeling when you want something so very badly, of course I know this, I’m also a woman , I think the way she tried to convince her husband into buying was a little over – exaggerated, and I mean, it was about buying a HOUSE, and not a kettle or a new bed! Whatever Josie wanted, Josie got, she would stop at nothing and she wasn’t afraid to play on her husband’s feelings and even use their little boy to achieve what SHE wanted.
Vina was, in my opinion, the most authentic and most likeable female character in the book, though she also had her moments of course, especially when she went so ballistic about her friend hiding that he went to visit her daughter, and I know about the lies but oh my god, he went to see her DAUGHTER and not to visit his hidden wife and four children, right?
As much as I enjoyed the writing style, the minutiae descriptions of the houses quickly started to annoy me, as they only took my attention away from the important bits, they distracted me and they were much too exact for me, and really they didn’t bring anything important to the story.
The storytelling was fluent and really easy to engage with, and in the end „Love, or Nearest Offer” turned out to be a nice, uncomplicated read, perfect for those summery days. The pace is gentle and even but somehow it fits the book perfectly (I would only really cut the very detailed house descriptions. Sorry. Won’t be nagging again!). There are some twists and turns but they are not life – changing, though they add a lot to the story, but altogether it is a very relaxing book, if I can say so, and the author has managed to make it gripping without adding unnecessary drama and still the book stayed so true to life with the events and characters, and in the end I found myself really engrossed with the story.
MAKE SURE TO VISIT OTHER STOPS ON THE BLOG TOUR: