Title: The Love Square (review copy)
Author: Laura Jane Williams
Genre/Themes: Contemporary Light Fiction, Romantic Dramedy, Emotional Drama, Complicated Romance, Cancer causing Infertility, Friendships
Blurb from Goodreads
Penny Bridge has, historically, been very unlucky in love. She’s pledged to focus on other things – her friends, her career – making the most of what busy London life has to offer.
But when difficult circumstances mean that Penny’s uncle must hand over the kitchen of his beloved restaurant in Derbyshire, she finds herself stepping into a new life in a new town.
And as luck would have it, she’s suddenly confronted with one remarkable man who wants to date her, followed by another. And then another…
So begins a hilarious love-square with Penny firmly in the middle…
There’s so much to admire in this book but yet I struggled a little bit with it. And I think a lot of that struggle came from my own misconceptions about what type of book this is. For some reason I thought it would be a super witty and fun romantic comedy… but instead it is a far more emotional type of read which I wasn’t particularly in the mood for at the time of reading.
The book follows the character of Penny and how over the course of a year she finds herself entangled in not just a love triangle, but a love square.
At the start of the novel she meets Francesco and they seem to have the perfect connection, but circumstances occur that rips Penny away from London and into a new life where she meets two other men and somehow ends up in this situation where she doesn’t know who or what she wants from life.
So for me what this book lacked was humour because that’s what I was [perhaps wrongly] expecting. And therefore I never could find my reading groove with this book, and that isn’t the book’s fault at all. Because there is great emotion and honesty in the pages of this story.
I really admired how the novel had such a strong infertility storyline. Absolute kudos for handling this frequently painful subject with such sensitivity.
The main character of Penny had had a type of cancer in the past that meant she was put into an early menopause. I loved how the book alluded to fatigue and pain issues that Penny sometimes had to deal with because of her hormone treatments. And bravo for talking openly and honestly about the options available to women who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis; in this instance Penny had, prior to the book’s start point, chosen to have her eggs harvested and fertilised by sperm donation to create embryos. It was just great to see a storyline whereby infertility was discussed in a manner that didn’t offer any quick fixes or miracle pregnancies for the infertile character but instead kept things much more authentic while still retaining hopefulness.
Also kudos to this book for not being just being heteronormative in its scope. There is great LGBTQ+ rep with loving gay and lesbian couples (Penny’s uncle and sister Clementine are both in stable long term relationships), and the presence of a gender non-binary character named Charlie who works alongside Penny and is a source of much needed playful banter in the book.
This book really challenges the idea of the traditional two parent family with heterosexual parents and shows that family comes in all sorts of beautiful shapes.
I really loved the friendships that were forged in this book especially between Penny and sassy London bestie Sharon. Theirs was a beautiful example of positive female friendship with how they emotionally supported each other.
The friendship between Penny and Charlie was another highlight. I love how Charlie was the type of character to hold no prisoners and said exactly what was on their mind. Really showed the value of honesty in a close friendship.
But my favourite relationship was the sisterly bond between Penny and Clementine. I just loved how open and honest they were with each other and thought that how they left each other constant voice notes through what’s app was really touching.
My least favourite characters were actually the three love interests!
Francesco started out pretty great; who doesn’t love a man who will make you endless pasta dishes?! I love pasta so very much and I’m really curious to try pesto with walnuts rather than pine nuts as he makes it in the book but I have digressed…
I wasn’t too thrilled with the direction his character went in and did not like how he seemed to get away much too easily with slut shaming Penny in the latter stages of the book… I know he said things in anger but I needed more repentance from him.
Thomas was a bit bland! I really felt like I didn’t get to know him as a character at all and found him to be quite one dimensional. Plus I found his constant name dropping of a certain celeb [Lizzo] just kept jerking me out of the book. I would have preferred if the author had created a fictitious celeb for him to work with.
And Priyesh…. nope! He seemed sort of sleazy to me rather than someone who I wanted to see Penny with.
So for a book supposedly about romance I really wasn’t rooting for Penny to end up with any of the guys. I won’t say more because of spoilers but I do very much respect the decision she made in the end and liked that ultimately it became a storyline about what it was that she wanted from life rather than what these men wanted from her.
Overall I liked this book… but I didn’t love it. But as I’ve said earlier this primarily is because I thought there was going to be a lot more humour and I was in the mood for a funny book rather than an emotional read.
I would recommend this to fans of light fiction who like their reads with a lot of emotional depth.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
PUBLISHING: July 2020