Gripping isn’t a word I expected to use in connection with a book described as an “uplifting romance” but I honestly couldn’t put Kate Field’s latest down.
From the explosive start to the swoon-worthy last page, The Man I Fell In Love With is an epic and rather unexpected rollercoaster.
From the cover, I thought I knew what I was getting. I imagined light, fun, heartwarming. It is that, in places, but it was also dark, heavy on the realism and heartbreaking at different points.
It made me feel things I never expected to. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad but what I did know is that, without a doubt, this is Kate’s most ambitious book yet.
Here’s the blurb:
Sometimes we find happiness where we least expect it…
After twenty years of contented marriage, no one is more surprised than Mary Black when her husband announces he’s leaving her… for another man.
For the sake of the children, Mary has no choice but to pick herself up and start again. She hosts family meals that include Leo and his new partner. She copes with the kids wanting to spend less time with her and more time with their ‘fun’ dads.
But one thing she can’t quite ignore is Leo’s gorgeous brother, who has just come back to town…
After living a life of sliding doors and missed opportunities, can Mary finally put herself first and take a chance that could change everything?
There’s no easy way of saying this – Leo is simply awful. He might seem harmless on the surface but that’s dangerous in itself. He’s selfish, unsupportive and possibly even a misogynist (or at least that’s the way he came across to me).
I wanted to punch him – and I’m not a violent person.
Yet, this book is so cleverly written, that I could completely see why Mary not only fell for him but stayed with him for so long.
There were moments even I softened towards him.
In fact, it felt like the narrative tapped into a growing awareness about male and female roles, relationships and behaviour that we are really still coming to terms with.
It was also the reason that, even though I wished Mary completely lost it with him after everything he did, I also understand why she didn’t.
And that was unsettling, to say the least.
As for rating this book. I asked myself the following:
Did I like reading it? Absolutely, I couldn’t put it down.
Was I happy with the way it ended? 100%, no question.
Did I enjoy it? This is where things got tougher. To answer it, I had to really think about what I like about reading books – and that’s complicated. Sometimes I like easy, enjoyable reads, sometimes I like to be challenged. I expected this to be an easy enjoyable read and yet I was challenged. Did that lessen my enjoyment? Maybe, slightly.
So while I can’t say I loved it as much as Kate’s last work , The Winter That Made Us, which I summed up with the word “perfect”, I do think she has written a book she can be proud of.
Price: £2.99 (via Amazon).
My rating: Four and a half stars.
With thanks to Avon Books (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.