Saturday 26 January 2008

My Lover's Lover

I found My Lover's Lover fascinating. Until halfway through, one isn’t really sure whether it’s a ghost story, a love story, a psychological thriller, or what. In fact, it’s all three and yet, in the end, none of the above. Yet it’s a compelling read and, ultimately everything makes sense, even though there were, for me, some slight structural problems along the way.

What makes it zing along, however, despite its faults (and the quality of the writing is such that many of these only really become apparent on reflection, afterwards) is O’Farrell’s absolutely breathtaking writing.

The lives of single twentysomethings, adrift in London, sharing flats and beds and falling into intense relationships with people they hardly know . . . well, it’s not exactly groundbreaking territory. But here it’s transformed by this writer’s exquisite ability to skewer minuscule nuances of feeling so precisely that they made me gasp – both with recognition and with admiration and delight at her skill.

Love, desire, loss, grief and obsession are all evoked so acutely that one feels quite raw and bruised just reading it – which, when added to the quick-change multiple narratives, the way the plot seems to slide from one genre to another, and the dislocating, shifting sense of things half-known or only partially understood . . . well, it certainly had me ensnared and hiding myself away to finish it when I should probably have been dusting or hoovering.

And, by all accounts, it’s not a patch on O’Farrell’s debut novel, After You’d Gone. So that’s another one added to my next Amazon order.

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