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Love Is a Canoe: A Novel
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Love Is a Canoe: A Novel

2.9  ·  Rating Details ·  635 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Every once in a while, a novel comes along that’s full of wisdom about relationships at every age . . .

Peter Herman is something of a folk hero. Marriage Is a Canoe, his decades-old book on love and relationships, has won the hearts of hopeful romantics and desperate cynics alike. Peter and his wife lived a peaceful life, but now it’s 2010, and his wife has just died. He p
ebook, 352 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Sarah Crichton Books
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Bonnie Brody
Jan 12, 2013 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Several decades ago Peter Herman wrote a book about marriage and called it 'Love is a Canoe'. It is a folksy book about lessons he learned while spending summers with his grandparents while he was growing up. His parents were in a horrible relationship and his summers were the only happy time in his life, especially watching his grandparents interact. The book has been in print for fifty years and many people have used it to save their marriages. It contains advice like 'Good love is a quilt - l ...more
Emily Crowe
Definitely another one of those cases where I kept expecting the book to get better, so I kept reading. There is almost nothing I can find to praise about this book. The characters were largely two dimensional, the dialogue was stilted, and other than the sections about infidelity or job anxiety, very little felt realistic to me.

I think I mostly kept reading because (1) the book was published by FSG, a publisher whom I usually respect, and (2) the author is involved with Razorbill.
Mar 05, 2013 Charity rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I was 10 I had a plastic boat that had a clear bottom. I was out in Lake Champlain and lost both my oars, not a rower, and just kind of drifted about, ended up going out kind of far, not far enough that I couldn't swim back to shore, but far enough that very tall stalks of seaweed were growing. Nightmare for me then and for me now. I'd rather have to have those tall stalks of seaweed wrap around my legs and pull me under while I stared down Champ the Sea Monster then read this book again.

Sep 18, 2012 eb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would love to give this book to a merciless editor. There's so much to love here, from the funny, crackling dialogue to the pleasure of watching a marriage dissolve—but there's also way too much of everything. The story drags, the excerpts from the advice book become monotonous, and it feels like every scene gets repeated twice.
Brianne Sperber
I haven't ever found a book whose dialogue felt so authentic and utterly real to me. This is a moving portrayal of the human condition, love, relationships, and ties in to contemporary society's dependency on self-help books for solace and guidance. Once we see that the creator of a self-help book is himself completely human, it changes our perception of the role of self-help books. In a city where so much is fleeting - emotions, jobs, situations, relationships - Ben Schrank takes us to a place ...more
May 22, 2013 Diana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A story of a shmaltzy self help book and how it connected several different people. Technically well written, but all the characters are sniveling and unlikable--not in an intentional way. The story can't decide between sentimental and cynical. It only found its middle ground in brief fleeting moments at the end. The characters we were supposed to side with I found totally self important.
Jan 12, 2013 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it. This sounds terrible, but I was really impressed by how well the author captured the women characters' voices. Had I not known who wrote it, I would have guessed a woman.

I love the idea of an old-fashioned self-help book causing such a ripple in the publishing industry and to the people in the story.
Feb 06, 2013 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With great relief, I'm giving up on this book. It's not terrible, but it's making me miserable, and I'm getting nothing out of it.
Simon Booy
Jun 05, 2017 Simon Booy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The structure is a very clever, and the characters so well drawn, I felt the people in my own life come into sharper view. This book is quiet, powerful, and beautifully written.
Larry H
Jan 12, 2013 Larry H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the course of love ran smoothly, we'd have far fewer books, movies, songs, magazines, and plays, don't you think? Ben Schrank's new novel, Love is a Canoe, looks at the chaos of love and how sometimes trying to help it isn't the best thing.

Peter Herman watched his parents' marriage disintegrate and saw how that affected his mother. As a 12-year-old, he spent a summer with his grandparents, a couple truly in love, and he shared the lessons he learned in a self-help book of sorts, Marriage is a
Jan 23, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few books lately whose topic is that marriage is not what it seems. Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl shows us the remnants of a bad marriage through the unreliable eyes of both spouses. Chris Pavone's The Expats uses the spy game as a metaphor for how little we really know how our own spouse.

Ben Schrank's novel Love Is a Canoe has a different take. Peter Herman wrote a hugely successful self-help book titled Love Is a Canoe, filled with the wisdom his loving grandparents shared with him a
Jan 30, 2013 Roxane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book and I do recommend it. The writing is really strong, the overall premise clever and I really enjoyed the sly publishing insider stuff which is absolutely hilarious if you catch it. There is some really brilliant characterization going on in this book. Schrank absolutely knows the people he means to write about. Toward the end of the book, my attention started to wane but the first half is absolutely 4/5 stars. Unfortunately, by the end of the novel, Schrank looses his grip on ...more
Simone Sinna
Jan 07, 2013 Simone Sinna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book follows author Peter Herman who published one, one hit wonder a half century earlier. It’s a cutesy book called Marriage is a canoe and talks about a summer he spent with his grandparents and the lessons he learnt from them about love and marriage. Excerpts of this are throughout the book and break the present time story nicely.
The publishers decide to do a new edition and run a competition. The winners, Eli and Emily get to spend the weekend with Peter who is now widowed and ambivale
Feb 04, 2013 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting premise, but poor execution. Some guy writes a anecdotal self help book about relationships in the 70s and it becomes a cult classic. To revamp sales 40 years later, the publishing house rereleases it with a contest built in where a lucky couple gets to meet the author and get free relationship advice. Hijinx ensue. Look, I'll be the first person to say that the critique of a book as being "unrealistic" is a total waste of time. It's fiction! There are no rules. However, I found the ...more
Sep 09, 2012 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with this book immediately. Alternating viewpoints, Schrank tells the story of a young married couple who is matched, via an editor's contest idea, with the author of a classic book on love and marriage. I so wanted this young couple to succeed, and from the snippets the reader is given from that classic book, I felt certain its author was the right person to do it. I enjoyed the writing, the language was sharp and to-the-point. The question of why each of the involved parties wan ...more
Jul 31, 2013 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How much did I hate this book? Lots. I'm surprised that I kept listening to it, but it apparently did not annoy me enough to shut it off. I can only surmise the author REALLY hates publishers, agents, publicists etc. I found most of the characters unsympathetic and annoying. The message of the book also seems pretty cynical and negative. It's not exactly a feel good read or even a decent message about marriage. Between the "Peter Pan" in his sixties how-can-you-resist-my-boyish-charm author of c ...more
Jan 25, 2013 Gerrybergstein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This satire of romance, "how to" books and the publishing world is a terrific read. The satire is simultaneously biting and kind. The characters are exquisitely drawn- "types" but not "stereotypes." It is cutting and very smart without being cynical. I wish I could give 4.5 stars. It didn't get 5 because the very last page is just a tad too sweet and pat. But the reading experience is near perfection- especially in the second half of the book. If you can't get into it give it 50 pages. It grows ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Herman is just a regular joe, who is thrown into fame and fortune after writing a novel that puts him on the map. Peter and his wife live a peaceful and quiet existence in New York until his wife passes away suddenly.
He tries to console himself with another woman, but questions himself about happiness after all that has happened. Then one day out of the blue he receives a call from an editor who wants to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his book and a contest for married couples. This
Lauri Hornik
Jan 05, 2013 Lauri Hornik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the unique mix of characters in this novel, which is so fresh and real. And in fact, the novel leaves you with a belief in the real -- honest love, that is -- and the need to keep searching until you find it. Ben Schrank has written a book that is romantic without being schmaltzy - a thinking person's pleasure read.
Jun 09, 2013 Carl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I took this book on a trip with me and I regretted that it was the only thing I had to read. The story lines are trite and the writing is stilted and awkward. I fully agree with Goodreads review by hirtho—go look at it.
Oct 15, 2012 Alainna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't put this book down. In fact, I only put it down just now to make sure other people in the world are also reading it (if they can this early). I keep flagging the trenchant one-liners about how love is indeed like a canoe so that I don't mess things up with my current boyfriend - like, ever.
Feb 09, 2013 Tracyj rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a disappointment. Dialogue implausible. Characters weakly developed. Reading this book became a bit of a chore.
Mike Cuthbert
Emily and Eli are married but, when Emily discovers evidence that her husband is having an affair with a woman at his company, she goes to work to repair the damage to their relationship. Meanwhile, Eli goes blithely along, continuing the affair and even making secret plans to go to California with his inamorata. In an almost whimsical reaction to her dilemma, Emily enters a publishing house’s contest for a day with Peter Herman, author of the best-seller “Marriage is a Canoe”—a book of adages a ...more
Manuela Santos
May 12, 2014 Manuela Santos rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lido
O Amor é uma Canoa de Ben Schrank ASA

Este livro cativou-me pela sua sinopse e pela apelativa capa a qual demonstrava paz, calma e serenidade. Pensei com os meus botões vai ser uma leitura suave.
Li-o muito rápido pois estava a participar numa maratona literária. Não que estivesse a gostar mas porque precisava de páginas de leitura.
Uma escrita simples, fluida, mas muito confusa pois as quebras na história tornava esta aborrecida, e assim um pouco complicada.
Peter Hermann o autor do livro “O casame
Gail Cooke
Jan 17, 2014 Gail Cooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Intelligent, sophisticated and spot-on Love Is A Canoe is not only an irresistible read but a close-up of the publishing world and that universal emotion - love. Ben Schrank has created a delicious dish blending the two while exploring the delusions with which people sometimes live simply to avoid what may be a painful truths.

Peter Herman, an author, found success some decades ago with a self-help book titled Marriage Is A Canoe, a tome filled with aphorisms to help folks navigate the sometime
Joanne Guidoccio
Mar 25, 2013 Joanne Guidoccio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A self-help junkie, I have often wondered what it would be like to spend face-to-face time with one of my favorite gurus.

What insights could I gain from Louise Hay, Martha Beck or Wayne Dyer?

In Love is a Canoe, author Ben Schrank plays with this deep-seated desire among fans of self help/motivational literature.

Stella Petrovic, an ambitious young editor at a prestigious New York publishing house, spearheads a contest to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a best-selling relationship book—Love
Dale Harcombe
Love is a canoe
To begin with this book was not floating my boat. I wasn’t adverse to it but neither was I itching to get back to it and pick it up. I actually stopped and read another book in the middle. I admit I like books that totally involve me and demand that I keep reading. This was certainly not the case here. So it took me a while to warm to it. When I did go back to it I found it interesting enough to keep reading.
Peter has written a marriage book when he was young based not so much on
Jim Leffert
Here’s a small scale, light, contemporary novel about the messiness of human relations. Stella Petrovsky, a young, ambitious editor at a big publishing house, comes up with the idea of boosting sales of the classic, sappy, celebrated self-help book, Love is a Canoe, by holding a contest in which the winning couple gets to spend a day with the legendary author, Peter Herman, by the shores of scenic Lake Okebye in upstate New York. Emily Babson, whose marriage to handsome artisanal bicycle maker E ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I had hoped to like this book. Instead, I found myself getting more and more irritated as I read, and I had to really push to finish it for my book club. The last few pages were somewhat better, but the ending seemed contrived. Overall, I just couldn’t like or care about any of the characters or their stories. And because the story line didn’t draw me in, I was distracted by the structure and sloppy editing. (The editing was especially grating, since the author is a publishing professional.)

Andrea Mullarkey
Dec 16, 2013 Andrea Mullarkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I still can’t decide how serious a book this was, which I think is a good thing. It read on multiple levels as a love story, a cultural commentary, and a consideration of what it means to be in human relationships. Three stories, and three relationships, are woven together around the fictional self-help book Love Is A Canoe, written by Peter Herman a man who is revered by his readers for his solid advice about relationships, but who himself has had more than one failure as a partner. His story i ...more
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