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Just when you thought you'd seen (read?) everything, comes this book, the story of the Chemistry of chemistry. Dr Steven J. Fisher is an Oxford scientist whose special area of interest is the female orgasm. His latest work is attracting interest from drug companies and the public alike for it's an elusive subject: a pill that will do for women what Viagra did for men (and I don't mean help their cardiac problems). Currently in the clinical trial stage, the results are looking promising until there's a new addition to his group of guinea pigs in the form of Annie, a literature post-grad from the same university. Her lover (also her PhD supervisor) is keen for her to take part in the hope that Dr Fisher can fix her problem (and it is 'her' problem, not theirs). Simply put, Annie would rather read a good book than have a good... well, you can fill in your own rhyme here.
But there's a problem: the drug was showing unequivocally promising results until Annie joined the trial. Her results just don't add up, and it's worrying the great doctor. Can he really tell the world he's solved the/her/their problem when there's this anomaly in the results? Rather than delete her data or fake the results, like a true scientist he gets to work on figuring out what's going on, and why Annie is proving the exception to the rule. But as their relationship moves beyond that of just researcher and subject, and she starts to spend more and more time in his company, the lines start the blur.
This is a really fun and unique book that has a wonderful presentation. Alternating between his scientific overview (complete with footnotes and nice sterile tone) and her private journal, the story progresses from both sides with some fabulous he said / she said moments showing both perspectives. It may sound odd, but it's nothing if not highly readable, entertaining and, yes, educational.
The book is lots of things. It is modern. It is topical. It is relevant. It's also pretty funny, with humour which is almost Shakespearian at times. The two characters' backgrounds blend well. Although the focus is on science, Annie's background in literature is incorporated, for example when the two discuss Lady Chatterley's Lover to great comedic effect.
This book was first published under a pen-name, but I must confess I was attracted to it once it had the author's true identity on, because I am a fan of his previous work. "The Food of Love" was my tasty accompaniment around Australia, and was re-read several times. I'm not sure I would expect to do the same with this one, simply because part of the enjoyment comes from discovering what happens next with the trial, and once read the first time those things can never return to being unknown.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk "Love. and Other..." is out now in paperback and on Kindle and is recommended!