Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Elizabeth Noble: The Way We Were *spoiler content*

I've wanted to review this book for a while, but I was always held back by the fact that I wasn't sure what my opinion was. I read it in about 2 days, and I couldn't put it down. Yet, I felt a sinking disappointment when I finished. I couldn't put my finger on why I didn't like the ending. Did I want Rob and Susannah to end up together? Initially, yes. But, the more the novel progressed, and the more choices I saw them make, the more they went down in my estimation. I started the book rooting for them. Rob, especially. Ask my best friend; I bombarded her with text messages throughout, insisting that Rob was the epitome for men everywhere. But, once he started seeing Susannah again, I wasn't so sure. Some of the decisions he made didn't reflect those of a perfect gentleman.
But, what did I want them to do? In reality, people do have affairs. Sad, but true. And they don't always fall head over heels and leave their current partner. So, why did I expect Rob and Susannah to?
When he turned up at the house in France, I thought, "Brilliant. Whirlwind romance, here we go!" Now, the scenes described in that magical, romantic house did make me weak at the knees and sigh dreamily, but it was short lived, trust me. They decided not to "go all the way" out of respect; they wanted it to be right. "Ok." I told myself, "I admire them for that at least." But, when did they finally find that "right" moment? In Rob and his wife's bed. With the clueless-wife's photograph watching them.
I'll be honest with you, I felt very sick. It invalidated all their prior reasoning. Once Rob's wife decided to forgive him and they attempted to make their marriage work, I closed the book huffing in disappointment. What? No unrealistic, sweep-me-off-my-feet ending? Nope.
So, as I sat sulking for a about a week and a half (whining on the phone to my previously-mentioned best friend, demanding she not give this book the time of day). Why was I so bothered, though? It was a realistic enough ending.  

After staring at the cover, turning the book over in my hands, I realised. I wasn't expecting a realistic ending. I didn't WANT a realistic ending. I didn't pick up a Jodi Picoult novel for that very reason!
The next question I had to ask myself was, why didn't I expect that ending? Why did I automatically assume everything would work out in a beautiful, romantic finale? Let's look at the cover:
Beautiful, isn't it? The swaying branches, soft petal buds, and sweet little birds watch the silhouette couple as they embrace on the bench. Not to mention the cute little heart at the bottom. This cover radiates “innocence” and “romance”. Which is exactly why I picked it up; I was in that kind of mood. But, don't worry, I know better than to judge a book purely on its cover (excuse the cliché), so I read the back.
 The synopsis was all well and good; it described two people who were longing to give love a second chance.
"Has the perfect love each now remembers been given back to them?"
This is just one line from the synopsis. Terribly sorry, but this screams "happy ending" to me.
Let's move onto the recommendations:
"Tissues are essential. You'll ricochet between delicately watering eyes at the romance of it all and howling sobs at the unbearable tenderness." Heat
Sorry, I really am, but there is nothing “tender” about them getting it on in his wife's bed; nothing “tender” about the pathetic ending of the affair.
So, you can see why I was disappointed with the ending. But, up until that? Loved it. I fell in love with the teenage romance of Susannah and Rob, and I fell in love with the irresistible attraction that pulled them together. Elizabeth Noble so eloquently described the sweet flutters of chemistry, and the deep longing of love.
So, in a nutshell, I would definitely read this again.
I'd just stop once they leave France.
Khadijah Stott-Andrew

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