“ Genre: Fiction / Author: Susie Gilmour / Edition: First Thus / Paperback / 356 Pages / Book is published 2001-05-03 by Flame „
This is a review of the 2001 book 'Love Stuck' by Susie Gilmour. It is very unique in its format and led me to utter confusion but more of that later!
The cover is bright yellow with a cutout pair of sunglasses with heart shaped lenses (so you can waggle your finger through the hole where the lens would be).
A bit on the storyline
The main character Jess is stuck between two lovers, James and her flatmate Sam. Where James lacks as a boyfriend, the potential of Sam appeals to her but when she gives it a go with Sam she finds herself wanting James. Grass is greener syndrome?
The book is mainly written in letters to Jess's friend Alex who is travelling round the world and she goes into the minutae of her life in the letters which are written in close italics. This is fine until half way through the book when it splits into the choices of what happens when she chooses Sam / James. The left page is dedicated to her life with Sam (still in italic letters) and the right page goes to James. Typically neither relationship is ideal and both blokes irritate her in different ways.
Jess is an amusing and flippant character who has a rubbish job and she knows it so she does her best to get out of most of her work tasks and laughs at her work colleagues' foibles to pen pal Alex.
As I have alluded to, the format totally flummoxed me. I tried to read it page by page keeping in mind what had just happened but I just got totally mixed up and confused so flipped to reading one side of the book ~ which went against natural instinct ~ and then going back to read the other pages.
Funniest moment for me
I loved it when Sam asks Jess 'how many' after they've had a bit of action in the sack. She grumpily fesses up to her 'number' (eight and a half) to guffaws from Sam and then she returns the question. He says his is a whole number, three and just as she is going through how inexperienced and innocent he is in her head and giving him the benefit of the doubt for being a rubbish lover, he adds 'is the first number' and she thinks huh? and then he adds 'and seven was the second but now, with you it's eight. Congratulations, you are number thirty eight!' and that sends Jess off into a right mood and she is mad with him for being an inconsiderate lover.
I think I would have enjoyed reading this book ten years ago when I was closer in age to Jess. It had a real 90s feel to it and whilst it was an OK read I just wanted to get to the end and finish it. When I got to the end, I had to go back to the middle of the book and re read to find out what went on between Jess and James! Whilst it was different, I wouldn't really recommend you seek out this book as I got a bit frustrated with the format once the novelty wore off.
Essentially this is the self absorbed diary of a girl named Jess recorded in the slightly unorthodox format of a series of letters to a single recipient named Alex. These letters contain the ramblings of a slightly unbalanced and very disorganised man obsessed mind.
Jess has a steady boyfriend, she also fancies and flirts with anything in trousers and records this flirtation in a barrage of drunken lewd comments with the odd funny one liner thrown in. Mostly the author goes for the shock factor to skim over the holes in the plot.
It's a classic tale of girl meets boy, moves flat, falls in and out of love. Chuck in a couple of kittens (I still haven't worked out why), a spot of job hunting resulting in the ultimate dream job that isn't, a spot of flat hunting, a house move and an unsatisfying job and that's the plot line in a nutshell. Had I parted with the £6.99 the publishers are peddling this at I'd be cheesed off and that was before I reached the twilight zone of pages 159 and 159. From this point onwards each page number appears twice as the book degenerates without warning into a novel with a split personality in the style of a 1980s choose your own adventure book where you, the reader, ultimately control the plot through a series of decisions often resulting in the characters untimely demise. Sadly this wasn't that technical (although killing off drippy Jess would have been a huge improvement). For Man A read the left hand pages and Man B read the right. They lurch off to a drivelly start with the clearly uninspired "Oooh happy, happy me. Happy happy us...." Pass the sick bucket.
To be fair the inner cover does warn of this with the brazen announcement "A novel with one girl, 2 blokes and 3 endings".
Purely reading the last half of a book is annoying, more so when you forget to only read the left page and soon end up very confused about what is or isn't going on. I'd like to say there was some redeeming feature but that's simply not the case.