Margaret H.'s Reviews > Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions

Which Brings Me to You by Steve Almond
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's review
Jan 24, 2011

really liked it
Read from January 21 to 24, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Reading this book almost immediately after The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was very illuminating. They have many obvious similarities-- epistolary love stories and all-- but at the same time, they couldn't be more different. Guernsey is so charming and well-mannered. All falling in love happens while the characters are talking about something else-- books, the German occupation, Kit, Elizabeth. It's crowded with relationships beyond the romantic, just as much about falling in love with a place and a life as it is about falling in love with a person. This book, in contrast, is really just about love and relationships-- and not sort of golden, funny-even-when-they're-bad relationships, but glorying-in-their-modern-messiness relationships. It's a totally compelling read, but I don't think it quite worked for me. Some of that is just my decided fustiness-- I like things old-fashioned, I like courtly love, I like British people, and historical window dressing. But other stumbling blocks are, I think, more legitimate. Like, for example, so far as the book shows, neither character has any friends-- they may exist at the fringes, but they are nowhere in the story. I don't like that, on a number of occasions, Jane says that she doesn't really do female friendships. I really hate that, when the characters do get together, John is throwing over a girl named Maggie-- a girl whose sort of sad clinging I identify with much more than Jane's lively brazenness. Obviously, I ripped through this book, and it was a compelling and fun read. I just didn't fall in love with it, and I was really hoping to. Granted, I'm still digesting this book, so writing this review is a bit premature-- I keep toggling back and forth between three and four stars for it, unsure whether I "really liked it" or just "liked it." I'm going to stick with "really liked it"-- because I can think of a lot of people I'd recommend it too, unreservedly, even if maybe my enjoyment of it was not unreserved. I'd say it's a grown-up's version of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I'd say that anyone looking for an epistolary novel version of Brenda and Nate from Six Feet Under (with a bit less morbid drama) would be very happy with it. But I think I might be a little too square for it to really hit home.

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