I just finished Love Lives by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees and I had very mixed feelings about it so this booktalk with be very much all over the place. The book follows four different people so my spoiler section will be split into their different stories. As usual it will be split into spoiler and non-spoiler section.
Love Lives focuses on the life of four different people all brought together by one house. A house in which, for decades, people from various places around the country flock to to commit suicide by throwing themselves of the cliff that it is set on. Ned is an architect working on rebuilding the structure to it’s original state. Ellen is a working on a documentary about the legend surrounding the old manor and the suicides that have occurred since. Jimmy is a teenager, unwillingly drawn into one of the suicides. Verity is a 17-year-old girl intend on falling in love. The story flowed very well between the many stories but became very predictable very early on which made it a little less exciting. I would recommend it as a good summer read for anybody wanted a romance story with a little bit more too it.
Jimmy – Jimmy’s story begins with the explanation of his infatuation for Verity and his plan to give her the mixed CD he made. It gave the audience their first glance of where Jimmy’s feelings lied but it also made anyone see that his story would revolve around her. We got to see that his Dad was a dead-beat and he lived with his step mother, Rachel, and her son, Keiran. I would have liked to see more of them mentioned in the story but they were absent for a large chunk of it which disappointed me.
It was revealed early on that Jimmy was having an affair with his boss at the video store he worked in and personally this storyline made me cringe so much. It seemed very unnecessary and was only mentioned a couple of times. The fact that a 17 year old (I’m assuming) was having an affair with a 37 year old was just icky. The first time we saw that was when Scott came into the store and gained an interest in Jimmy. He was recruited by them to assist in making the documentary.
He was allowed to view the auditions for the leading roles in the reconstruction of the legend and, surprise, Verity got it and the leading man got sick on filming day. This seemed very cliché and too good to be true but I let it slide because that’s what romance novels are all about. They shot a couple of scenes and it was really good to see Jimmy’s confidence in himself grow. I think he was the character we saw most development from.
He broke off the affair (thank goodness) and went to make a grand gesture to Verity. What he did was so amazing and really sweet and she just kind of rejected him. Although of course everything worked out in the end and Verity realised she liked him, although not after he nearly killed himself. He was driving the motorbike drunk and it was really scary, I thought he was going to die! But he didn’t and we got to hear the truth about Ryan. That part of the book was really frightening; to know that Jimmy had almost died too and that Ryan didn’t want to. To see the fear that was in his eyes and hear his screams as he went over the edge. It was a very emotional part of the book but I’m glad it was resolved. The ending with him and Verity seemed very quick and quite anticlimactic but at least it was all resolved.
Verity – Verity was a character I was consistently frustrated with. Her lack of empathy for other people astounded me. When Jimmy was so sweet and gave her the mixed CD she was really cold to him and just stared at Denny whatever-his-name-is. The first approach with them was uncomfortable to read and felt very strange because she was only 17 and he was 26 or whatever and had his own shop. The only person I disliked more than Verity was Verity’s mother, Cheryl. She was so inconsiderate of what her daughter wanted, sometimes I don’t think she even realised it. She wanted so much for her she didn’t think about what Verity wanted for herself. However, Verity was quite rude to both her mother and father. The revelation that her mother was having an affair seemed very reclusive as a storyline and was never properly resolved I didn’t think.
Being forced to reschedule a date, while horrible if you’re forced into something you don’t want to do, is not actually the end of the world. Verity made out like it was, however Denny didn’t even care that much. Her first date with Denny went well but I just hated reading it! She thought he was the most incredible person in the world and would die without seeing him every single day of her life. She was just being ridiculous!
Then she got cast in the reconstruction and did the scenes with Jimmy. They kissed and she kissed him back which apparently counts as an infidelity even though they were just acting. Denny punched Jimmy and she still thought he was wonderful despite his immense over-reaction at what had happened. She basically begged him to take her back over the weeks and I hated reading that. Her going over to his house was the most cringe-worthy chapter in the book and was really disturbing. He made her do things she clearly did not want to do and it was uncomfortable and disgusting to read. The fact that he did that and she still thought she loved him made me want to scream. Her excuses after Jimmy was so sweet to her were hollow and made it very hard to read.
Finally she stood up to both her mother and Denny after the concert, shouting at him while her mike was on. She then went and found Jimmy and la-di-da they fell in love.
Ellen: Ellen’s story had the most gaps in the story for me. She was staying at wherever-it-was with Scott, her co-worker and complained a lot in the first two chapters maybe about how she wasn’t with her partner, Jason, for a while. After that he seemed to drift out of the story for the rest of it. The hate relationship at the beginning between Ellen and Ned was very tedious and did not make them getting together any more romantic as I’m assuming the authors were hoping it would.
Her love for romance and for Appleforth House was very enjoyable to read about and made Ellen seem more realistic to me as a reader. The conversations with Jason, and even the paragraphs about Jason, were dry and whiny. The only time I didn’t mind was when she wanted to confront him about the future they were supposedly to have together. I think it’s important to talk about that in a relationship. Her growing love for Ned was quite sweet and I liked that she was head strong in ending things with Jason once she knew how she felt for him. What I didn’t like is that she didn’t bother to take him too a private place before telling him like any normal human being would do. The chapters with Ellen were the ones that featured Scott the most, which I was happy about as I found him a very fun character. The most annoying thing in the entire book though was the fact that they constantly referred to Scott as “the Australian”. We get that he’s Australian, move on please. The last chapter with Ellen was really sweet. Ned was so kind to her after all he had done (in the heart breaking chapter previously), but I don’t think she should’ve been taken away like that. What he did to her was not nice and she just forgot it immediately. Oh well it was a happy ending.
Ned – I saved Ned for last because I feel he had more background to him than any other character. We open on him lying in bed after a night of drinking, his adorable daughter at the end of the bed waiting for him to wake up. Clara was so adorable and I really wish she was present more in the book. His immediate attraction towards Ellen was sweet but quite surprising. After the struggles of other characters it didn’t seem like it would be that simply. And turns out it wasn’t! The back and forth between love and hate with the two characters was full and repetitive but I figured I’d let it play out. Deb was a side character in Ned’s story who got very little time in the book and was useless except to be Scott’s love interest. I didn’t think she was his girlfriend/partner at all during the novel as it just didn’t fit with the storyline. When he told Clara and Ellen about his wife having a brain illness that killed her, I fully believed he meant cancer. Then it was revealed that she had actually committed suicide after having post-natal depression. This storyline was very sad as it is a very real mental illness that people suffer from every day. That story gave so much depth to Ned and the fact that he didn’t believe he could have a second chance and that romance didn’t exist. It just felt so raw and real. The night he had with Ellen felt very intimate and the fact that he was afraid of his feelings made his lack of belief in romance even more solid. I couldn’t believe he was doing drugs, being a dad and everything. He eventually realized how much he felt for Ellen and the what she had given up for him. The end was beautiful and everything that he set up for her, admitting to his feelings. The most exciting part of Ned’s story, however, was when he discovered that the father of the girl who threw herself off the rocks first, actually murdered her lover Leon, making her kill herself to be with him. This murder resulted in the father burning down the house with him inside. This revelation made a very exciting turn to the story.
I had very fixed feelings for this book but overall it was an enjoyable read. The end felt quite anticlimactic and the Jason story seemed very unresolved and fast. I’d rate it 3 stars out of 5.
Signing off, Charlie.