The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney
Publishing Date: 7th February 2019
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 416
Genre: General Fiction
One love. Two people. Twenty Years.
From the moment they met, Erin and Dom loved each other too much, too quickly. Everyone said it wouldn’t last. But they knew differently.
A wedding present, a notebook, brings them together through the good times and the bad. On the blank pages of their love story, they write down everything they can’t always say – the secrets, the heartbreak, the highs and lows. It’s where they see the best and worst of each other.
Falling in love is easy but staying in love is where the story begins…
Erin Fitzgerald and Dominic Carter got married in 1996 – they loved each other unconditionally and they’re expecting a baby. Erin’s father gives them a leather bond book – The Book of Love – to write down what they can’t tell each other face to face. Each letter should end with a message of love. They’re sceptical at first but then the book turns out to be pivotal source for their communication, to be a significant part of their lives.
You can’t help but immediately fell for the characters, for their fates, for their feelings, emotions and unconditional love, and so, very quickly, you find yourself on incredible roller coaster ride through their lives, through the years they have to learn by themselves what life really is about. I experienced everything with them, I could feel their pain, hurt, uncertainty, love, hope and grief. The book offers us everything, through ups and downs, screw ups, struggles, heartbreaks and changes in relationships. All the characters are so well fleshed out, they’re not perfect, they’re full of flaws and secrets and they make mistakes but this only make them much more realistic and relatable. They’re simply human – and after reading tons of books in my life I’ve learnt that it doesn’t always work out for authors to create their characters this way, which only made me appreciate them even more. Each character in this book, no matter if the main or the background one, was authentic and genuine, in every detail and every gesture. The relationships between them – and there were plenty of them, not only this of marriage, but also of being a parent, sibling, friend – were real.
The story begins in 2017 and takes us back and forth through years, starting in 1996, and all those years are testimony of love. It moves smoothly between the timelines, and with ease, and there was maybe a moment or two when I shortly felt a little confused but quickly I was finding myself again on track. And I love the way it was written, as it really was full of surprises. When I was thinking that I know where I’m standing, where the story is going, then bang, and it was pushed in totally different direction.
The end made me really tearful. Such love, as this of Erin and Dom, it doesn’t happen often, I think. You can love but there was such a special bond between them, a bond that was palpable through the pages and that I envied them so much. However, this bond doesn’t mean that they didn’t have problems communicating, because they did, there were things they couldn’t tell each other face to face, and here comes The Book of Love, the gift Erin’s father gave them at their wedding. Sometimes it’s hard to speak up, to tell what’s bothering you for fear what the other half may think of you and so Erin and Dom settled to write their deepest, most intimate thoughts in the book for each other. And it turned out to be a cathartic, emotional experience for both of them, and for us, readers, as well. What makes this book so exceptional is the honesty it’s written with. Love is not only bed of roses, love can hurt, love means loss and grief and sadness, and the book mixes those moments perfectly with joy and humour and believe me, no matter how you’re going to feel at the end, how much of a snotty mess you’re going to be, it’ll be an uplifting read that will restore your faith in love and friendship.
Lately we are literally flooded with descriptions of the books that shout “that final twist!” and that usually leave you lukewarm. Probably those that don’t need such kind of advertising, that speak for themselves, are the best kind of twists – here, in this gorgeous story, I haven’t seen the final twist. It just came and hit me hard on my unexpecting head and left me a) speechless and b) in tears – and this is what I call TWIST.
Fionnuala Kearney can write in such a gorgeous way – her writing style is flawless and effortless, of high quality and so chatty that when you start reading you simply can’t put the book away. She captures all the insecurities and fears and the book is going to make you nod with understanding and agreement, to roll your eyes, laugh and cry. She, as not many out there, can describe human nature and the complexity of it with tons of sensitivity and understanding. “The Book of Love” was incredibly beautiful and brutally honest story of love, marriage and family. It has broken my heart, to mend it and to break it again. It was about forgiveness, showing how true love can knit people together in the face of disaster, tragedy but also happiness. Be prepared that you’re going to be emotionally invested from the very beginning till the end. It was powerful and moving, uplifting and heart – breaking, mesmerising and enduring and I raced through the pages, though it is this kind of book that you also don’t want to end. It was a complex and epic tale full of real people, real stories, real feelings. Deep and intelligent and so cleverly written, for sure my certain contender for the best read in 2019. And after reading it. this is what I call book – hangover. I loved it – mightily.