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Lulu has always been the sensible member of her family. She has a good job as a psychologist, lives in a lovely flat and drives a fantastic car. However after a hectic day at work Lulu realises that she's fed up of listening to other people's problems and completely turns her life around. She opens up a pet behavioural office, trades her car in for a motorbike and moves into a trailer/caravan and she's suddenly calmer than she has been in years. There's even the hint of love on the horizon, but nothing ever runs as smoothly as expected and a tragedy forces Lulu to yet again re-evaluate her life and maybe, just maybe, face up to the problems she faced through her childhood.
I'm quite a fan of Anita Notaro's books after reading her first two Back After The Break and Behind The Scenes. I thought they were fantastic reads and set about finding Anita's third novel The WWW Club. I enjoyed that also and have Anita's fourth book on my to read shelf. Her last book (the one I have on my shelf) was released in 2007 so it was only by chance I managed to come upon her new book No Ordinary Love which was only released this year. I'm so pleased I did and I was thrilled when I received it in the post and was looking forward to getting stuck in.
The book opens with Lulu having had a very stressful day at work and it's clear to see that years of being a psychologist are beginning to take their toll. By 10 pages in, Lulu has chucked it all in, traded in her car and home for smaller models and, pushed by friends Maddie and Clodagh, has decided to open up a dog psychologists/behavioural office. It's fair to say that it's quite a change, but the Lulu we meet in the opening chapter and the Lulu a few chapters later makes for a very remarkable and very positive change. It might seem a bit too out there for a few people to swallow but I embraced Lulu's new life and it seemed to do her no end of good. Lulu's change of lifestyle doesn't necessarily mean she won't be helping out her human clients as well as their pets and as she gets to know her clients more, she ends up agreeing to help them out with their problems.
I thought Lulu was a fantastic character. She narrates the entire book and I loved her immediately. The way in which she embraced her new life was admirable as she literally changed every aspect of her life. She traded her fancy car for a motorbike and moved from a luxury flat into a trailer/chalet/caravan but the change just seemed completely natural for Lulu. As she works with human beings for the majority of the time (after all - she can't discuss the dogs' problems with the dogs themselves) she had to be warm enough to carry it off and I thought she was sufficiently warm. It was easy to see why everyone was happy to spill their secrets and problems to her as she was just so open. Lulu's friends Maddie and Clodagh appear a lot throughout the book and I thought they made a fantastic threesome. They really complemented each other and sounded like three girls you would love to have as friends.
What really makes No Ordinary Love though is Lulu's clients. There's Dinny, who believes there's something wrong with his dog Bartholomew (the male menopause, apparently) and the rapport Dinny and Louise build up is so sweet - not to mention Bart sounded so cute. Then there's Louis and Mike with Pedro who believes he's the actual master of the house and doesn't really like Mike. There's also a young girl called Emily whose mother believes her cat is actually their dog that passed away. Finally we have Ronan O'Meara whose Grandma's dog seems to be attached to him for an inexplicable reason. There are a few more clients but those are the ones we meet regularly. They all have their reasons for going to Lulu and they all enlist her help with more personal matters. There are a lot of twists and turns concerning all of Lulu's clients - some shocking, some sweet - particularly when Dinny makes Lulu adopt her first dog, Pete, since her childhood dog Gnasher, and I just loved Pete as he seemed like such a sweet and innocent dog.
No Ordinary Love has a lot of warmth running through it's veins and even though there are quite a few characters to keep up with, it's incredibly easy to remember who everyone is as they all have such distinct personalities. I did, however, sense that something was probably going to happen near to the end of the book but it certainly wasn't what I was expected and when we learned what had happened I was literally stunned. There's a huge tragedy toward the end and it really did boggle my mind because it wasn't who I had expected it to happen to. At all. I usually see things like this coming so whenever I don't I'm always stunned into silence. It certainly put the whole novel into perspective and I liked how everyone banded together to try and get over the tragedy. There's then a further two twists, one I saw coming, one I didn't and I thoroughly enjoyed the end of the book. There isn't much romance within No Ordinary Love - it's very much a slow-burner in that department but there is a good ending there for those looking for it.
I really enjoyed No Ordinary Love. It appears to be more high brow chick lit than I'm used to reading but I quite liked the change. Anita Notaro has written another great book and also managed to have me in tears a couple of times - which probably isn't unusual for me! I hugely recommend No Ordinary Love as it was a fantastic read with a great plot and some really really great characters. One thing I would like to know is what the book title actually means - it doesn't seem relevant to the book!