All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Love, In Theory by Elodie Cheesman

on May 28, 2021

Love, In Theory
Elodie Cheesman
Pan Macmillan AUS
2021, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}: When 24-year-old lawyer Romy learns that she is at her ‘optimal stopping point’ (the mathematically designated point at which one should select the next ‘best person’ who comes along in order to have the best chance at happily ever after), she knows it’s time to get serious about her love life.

Ruthlessly rational, with a belief in data over destiny, Romy knows that reliability and consistency are dependable options, while passion and lust are transitory and only bring pain and disillusionment.

That’s why sensible Hans the engineer is the right choice, as opposed to graphic designer James who exhibits the kind of behaviour that has got her into trouble before. Isn’t he?

The twenty-first century may have brought technological advances in how we communicate, but this warm and funny novel shows us that the search for love is as fraught as ever.

I thought this was mostly, a lot of fun.

Romy is a lawyer working for quite a large firm, under one of the partners. Even though she’s only 24, her mother draws her attention to an article describing the mathematical perfect time to find her life partner and it’s been a little while since she’s dated anyone and I think the science of the idea appeals to her. She joins Tinder for the first time in an attempt to find ‘The One’. After a few disastrous dates, she meets Hans, a German who is new to Sydney and is everything that Romy thinks she wants (her 3 characteristics). He’s kind and steady and definitely the sort of person she should be building a future with – even if there’s no spark. And she can’t stop thinking about James, a laid back guy who doesn’t ‘do’ relationships and seems to collect one night stands. James doesn’t have future written all over him, so Romy should definitely be concentrating on Hans.

Really enjoyed the premise, the study of different ways that people find love and how and if that love is maintained. I also like the idea of building something, something that grows but that’s not to say it has to be without the spark, or the chemistry. There are times when Romy does seem to take this extreme viewpoint – she’s willing to put a lot of time and work in with Hans, which is great, even when there’s no spark and things do not particularly seem to be developing. Likewise, she’s attracted to James, there’s chemistry between them but she thinks that isn’t going to last, it’ll fade and that they wouldn’t be able to build something. It’s pretty obvious there’s some flaws in her thinking but she needs to work that out for herself, with a bit of trial and error I suppose.

Romy is working in a two year rotation and she’s finding the work quite unfulfilling – she’s learning to apply the law as it stands and as her boss often tells her, they’re not the moral police. Romy often struggles with this, that the fact that someone can be doing something morally wrong but the company doesn’t have the ability to fire them. Or that a company can be doing something wrong but it’s a their word vs an employee’s word and often there’s no justice for the employee. It’s clear her work doesn’t make her happy but she’s not sure what, exactly, she wants to do with her law degree. To be honest, the firm where she and several of her friends work, sounds quite depressing – her friend Cameron is basically borderline bullied by his direct partner and even though Romy’s partner in charge is boorish, he’s at least not a person who belittles her publicly and insults her. This is a sort of culture in law firms that is probably quite traditional and the author is a lawyer herself so has presumably some experience in the area, if not herself then someone she knows. I liked learning about the hierarchy of a big firm though and the way in which the work trickles down to the juniors.

I also liked Romy’s group of friends and their differing opinions on various things such as getting married and relationships. They seemed like fun – although it’s been long time since I was 24 and to be honest I’m not sure I was ever a 24yo who thrived on being as busy and out as much as these ones are (introvert here)! This is set in Sydney and you do get quite a clear sense of the city, which I really enjoyed. I’ve never lived in inner-Sydney but it is one of my favourite places to visit and this book definitely reminded me it’s been a long time since I was there.

I did find Romy a little frustrating in the latter part of the book – and very stubborn. People seemed to be trying to tell her that the studies are all well and good but you still have to factor actual feelings into it and you cannot force something that isn’t there but she seems to just persist with the theory for quite a while, even though it’s making her miserable and she has the power to fix it. I was really ready for her to have her epiphany!

I did enjoy this though – it was fun and humorous and well written. A really clever debut and I hope to read more from Elodie Cheesman in the future.


Book #85 of 2021

Love, In Theory is book #35 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2021

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