“ Genre: Fiction/Romance / Author: Nick Spalding / Kindle Edition / Publication Date: 2011 / Publisher: Racket Publishing „
I bought this to read on holiday on a bit of whim not really expecting too much but found myself pleasantly surprised. A lovely read for sitting in the sun or on a rainy day, it kept me chuckling a lot. It is well written, and without spoiling the book provides a great modern insight into dating and all the perils it can include. Great fun to read and includes warm characters you really end up caring and rooting for right the way through.
I would re-read it over and over again, if not for the amusing bits then for the brilliant way the author does provide the story from the two points of a view, a nice twist on dating story telling. I love that this book does not try to tell a story of perfect people who never make fools of themselves, the characters are real and very likeable, definitely important in any book!
As soon as I finished the book I wanted to find the sequel and read it!
This book will just make you smile, and then laugh, a lot. It also has a few more serious moments to balance out the humour perfectly. Definitely worth a read, and a bargain on the kindle!
Love...From Both Sides by Nick Spalding.
I purchased Love...From Both Sides for my Kindle after seeing it on the Amazon Kindle bestsellers list for 99p (there is also a paperback version for £4.49 currently). It is worth remembering that books on the bestseller list are often just that, best sellers, and not necessarily the best. However for 99p I was quite pleased and entertained. It is a very short book which took me a little over a day to read (in reality probably only a few hours), according to Amazon the paperback is only 143 pages. To make it an even quicker read, the two characters write their version of events either in the form of a blog or a diary, which keeps the pace up and allows for easy character development.
Our main protagonists are Jamie Newman, who keeps a blog and has been single for two years and Laura McIntyre, who writes a diary to her late mother, and has been single for just over a year after her ex-boyfriend left her for a colleague. Initially we meet through their respective blog and diary entries discussing some disastrous dates they had been on. Eventually (or should that be 'inevitably' as this is a rom-com type book?), their paths cross and they arrange to go on a date. Of course, it would be an even shorter book than it already is, if that was all there was to it. It will come as no surprise to anyone that the path of true love for these two does not run smoothly. The events, during, prior and post their first meeting are written fairly amusingly by the author, Nick Spalding.
Spalding, (who has written a number of similar type books according to a quick browse on Amazon), offers up some interesting descriptive passages, especially regarding sex; which were often fairly candid, and at times leant towards the crude, but credit where it is due, certain turns of events I did not see coming which can only be a plus in this genre. Although sometimes we hear about the events of a certain evening from both characters, their stories don't overlap, so there is no repetition, and they tell of different experiences. You may have to suspend your disbelief in places, but that is often the case in these genres. Real life never quite works out how romantic fiction authors would like, but in this case, that may actually be a good thing...
The book bills itself as 'laugh out loud', and whilst I found it very amusing in parts, I can't say I actually laughed out loud. Entertaining as it is, I can't say it is particularly well-written, but it is engaging and the diary style format keeps your turning the pages.
Overall, this is a short but enjoyable read. Ideal for a short journey, as most readers would probably be able to finish it in one sitting of two hours or so. I would probably read other books by this author but would not go out of my way for them. I would recommend this at 99p, but don't pay any more as the book is so short. However, please be warned that it can be crude in places, and that is not everybody's cup of tea.
Love....from both sides is a novel about the trials and tribulations of the dating game from the point of view of two central characters, Jamie Newman and Laura Mcintyre, who have both been single for too long. The narrative alternates between Jamie's account, which is in the form of a blog, and Laura's account, which takes the form of a diary. This gives the reader the opportunity to contrast the male and female perspectives on dating and to see where the sexes differ and where they are in fact very similar. For the first part of the book, Jamie and Laura recount separate experiences but, as the story develops, the couple's lives become romantically intertwined and so they start to describe the same situation. The comedy comes from the way that a mutual experience is recounted twice, first by Jamie and then by Laura, so the reader is able to compare each character's take on the situation. It is amusing to see how often Jamie and Laura misinterpret each other's behaviour and make incorrect assumptions about one another, and also where one character thinks they are hiding something but it is in fact blatantly obvious to the other.
I am quite a fan of the author, Nick Spalding, and have enjoyed his previous books, Life.....with no breaks and Life...on a high, which both provide an entertaining blend of autobiography and random observations on life. I find Nick Spalding very funny, so when I realised he had written a novel, I was very keen to read it. Its modest price of just £0.99 from the Amazon Kindle store was an added incentive for me to download it.
This is a very credible, warts and all account of dating in the 21st century. In the foreword to the book, Nick Spalding explains how he collected material from friends about the pitfalls of finding a partner and sustaining a happy relationship. It is a refreshingly unglamorous portrayal and it is clear from the opening chapter that Nick Spalding isn't afraid to tell it like it is. His style might seem too graphic to some people, so I would not recommend this book to those of a prudish or squeamish disposition. The book begins with a no holds barred description of Jamie's date with Isobel, a woman whose bad breath leads him to refer to her as "the oral harbinger of the apocalypse." However, Jamie has been single for two years, and he is becoming desperate. "It's either an hour in the pub with her - or back to my flat for some lonely masturbation and barbecue flavour Pringles", he tells us frankly. So there he is on a blind date in a pub which is "deader than Elvis" with a woman whose "square arse" begins to look less square after a few pints. Later on, back at her place, there follows a gruesome account of the sexual liaison which, for all its bad taste, is also painfully funny. I won't reveal the details except to say that it is one of those episodes when you're not sure whether to laugh or cry. It is funny but it also makes you a bit uncomfortable to realise how sex can become an obsession for people who have been forced to go without it for too long and the depths to which they can sink - against their better judgment.
Just when you might be thinking that only a man would show these levels of desperation, the story switches to Laura's most recent adventure, and we realise that she is every bit as frustrated by her single lifestyle and isn't having much luck either. Her attempts to "get back into the game" after a long sexual famine involve an estate agent with a lazy eye. After agonising over what to wear and lamenting the state of her wardrobe, which offers her the choice of looking " like a prostitute at one end of the spectrum or an Amish grandmother at the other", she too endures a date from hell when all she wants to do is get home and watch the two episodes of Hollyoaks on the Sky Plus box.
Although unnerving and slightly distasteful to read of the sexual neuroses of the desperate, it certainly makes for good comedy. Many of the accounts of the full gamut of the dating experience will strike a chord. We have probably all been on a date at some time where we've ended up feeling inadequate and tried to compensate for it by acting more confident than we feel, or had the misfortune to date people with whom we quickly realise we have nothing in common. My favourite part of the book was the speed dating event where Jamie passes the time by making up false information about himself, such as being a part time Elvis impersonator or former roadie for The Wurzels.
So with a history of dating hell behind them, how will Jamie and Laura fare when fate brings them together? Looking for a relationship is problematic enough, but being in a relationship isn't exactly plane sailing either. Read the book to see how they get on - and be prepared for some moments that will make your hair curl.
This is a fun, light read. Don't expect any in-depth analysis of relationships or anything particularly new here. It has a Bridget Jonesesque quality to it, which of course is fine if you like Bridget Jones. If you don't, you may quickly become weary of the chatty, vernacular style in which the characters appear to be confiding in you about the moments when they wanted the ground to swallow them up. It will either make you warm to them or just annoy you. One episode where Jamie attends a dinner party to find that he's the only single person in a room full or couples reminded me a lot of the 'smug marrieds' of Bridget Jones' Diary. It was funny enough, but I think the jokes about singles v marrieds have worn a bit thin.
Amongst all the silliness, the book poses a more serious (although hardly original) question. Do people sometimes try too hard to make everything perfect in a relationship? If two people are meant to be together, can even the most challenging experiences halt the course of true love? Or is it the case that, in Jamie's words - "the universe notices I'm happy and takes steps to ruin everything?" From encounters with ex-boyfriends to violent food poisoning, this book covers it all with laugh out loud, farcical moments, which remind us that no matter how much money we have, no matter how clever, professional, good looking or independent we think we are etc, we are all subject to the same human weaknesses and are inclined to look stupid at times. That is somehow reassuring and I felt that it made the main characters extremely endearing.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, if you want a light read and aren't put off by the lurid detail. For anyone feeling overawed by the dating game and relationship issues, this book will certainly bring you back down to earth and make you see the funny side of things. It definitely lives up to its title, by providing the point of view of both a man and a woman, so I see no reason why it couldn't be enjoyed by people of both sexes. Don't expect a particularly complicated plot, however. It's simple and in some respects predictable, but undeniably funny, albeit in a 'too much information' kind of way.