16 July 2010
Book Review: Men I've Loved Before by Adele Parks
I haven't read anything by Adele Parks for years. I remember reading something of hers a while ago when I just started reading chick lit but I didn't get on with it, and so I tended not to pick up anything by her again because I wasn't as open minded with books as I am nowadays! When I heard that Adele Parks had moved publishers, and that this was being touted as her best book yet, I was determined to give it a go and hoped that I'd like it. This is the author's 10th book and has been combined with a massive publicity drive so I was sure there had to be something there for me to enjoy, and I was right... it makes me wonder what other Adele Parks books I've missed out on in the past because this one was brilliant!
The book begins introducing us to a very happy Nat and Neil. I like the way Parks gives us a good look at the characters before the want of a family sets in, because this way we can see how it affects their lives, and we get to know more about the characters too. Nat was very likeable and made for a good leading character for the book. I liked how the marriage affected Nat, it felt very realistic and we got to see all the emotions Nat went through, from anger, upset, disbelief and finally sorrow. Parks puts across the emotions of these characters very well, and it made the novel quite emotional. I also liked how the story for Nat's not wanting children was approached too, very cleverly done and a real surprise for the reader when it's finally revealed.
I expected to like Neil but actually found him quite dislikeable as the book went on. I found myself feeling very sorry for him when he realises his wife doesn't want to have his children, but as the twists and turns go on throughout the book, I decided that I didn't like him very much! I enjoyed that Parks changed my opinion of this character as the book went on, and by the end again I was feeling different again. This book certainly plays on your emotions, and you feel them along with the characters too, despite the right and wrong things that they both do. I liked how both of these characters are quite flawed, and how the longing for something forces them to do things they would otherwise not have done. It gives a great drama to the book because you can feel something bad is going to happen, and you're just waiting to find out what it is.
I actually found that the book reminded me quite a bit of Emily Giffin's novel 'Baby Proof'. That book also focussed on a woman who didn't want children and the affect that had on her relationships. If you've read that book, it'll certainly remind you of this one but not in a bad way. What I liked about Men I've Loved Before is that it didn't just focus on the issue of children throughout the book. We also get to see Nat meeting her past boyfriends, and how this affects her too. It made for a quite exciting read because I was just waiting for Neil to find out about what Nat is doing and how he would react, and I liked the tension this created.
In fact, the book is very well written throughout, and while there are quite a few things going on at once, it was an easy read and one I didn't want to put down. I liked how Parks used the third person when she was writing the book, because this allows the reader to flit between Neil and Nat quite easily, and keeps your interest in the story. The final few chapters were brilliant and the tension that Parks created was the perfect climax for the story. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book, and would definitely recommend it!