All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Love And Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp

on March 7, 2022

Love And Other Puzzles
Kimberley Allsopp
Harper Collins AUS
2022, 275p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Following the clues doesn’t always lead you where you might expect … 

A witty, warm-hearted and appealing novel about how stepping out of our comfort zones can sometimes be the best – and worst – thing that can ever happen to us.

Rory’s life is perfectly predictable, ordered and on track – just the way she likes it. She walks her 12,000 steps a day, writes her to-do list, and each night she prepares her breakfast chia pods and lays out her clothes for the next day. She’s doing everything right. So why does everything feel so wrong?

Deep down, she knows her life and career – not to mention her relationship – are going nowhere, and so Rory, in a moment of desperation, takes an uncharacteristic step: letting the clues of The New York Times crossword puzzle dictate all her decisions for a week. Just for a week, she reasons. Just to shake things up a bit. What could possibly go wrong?

A delightfully witty, deliciously original and astringently refreshing romcom that reads like you’re inhaling a zingy citrus cocktail made by Nora Ephron, at a party thrown by Dolly Alderton and Beth O’Leary.

A couple of my book loving friends really recommended this to me quite hard and I find myself in the mood for these types of books lately so I had to buy this one. It sounded like a lot of fun and I think it definitely delivered what it was promising.

Rory lives in Sydney, working at a publication although her job is mostly just to set the weekly crossword. She wants to do more but finds herself never chosen for those feature pieces. She’s living with her boyfriend Lucas, an artist funded by his rich parents but lately, it’s like they’re living separate lives. Rory’s life is very structured and ordered: she lays out her clothes and prepares her breakfast the night before. She takes the same bus to work every day. She gets in her 12,000 steps and tries to come up with a healthy meal plan (often thwarted by Lucas). Despite doing everything “right” she feels like everything is stagnant, like she’s not going anywhere, so she decides she’s going to be a more spontaneous version of herself and use the New York Times crossword to guide her decision making for a week.

There’s a lot to relate to in this – I think many people could identify with Rory’s career frustrations, her relationship questions. She’s always thought she wanted to be a journalist, it’s what she thinks she’s destined for but she’s really not progressing. People who started at the same time as her are getting opportunities that she is not and she thinks that this will really shake things up. However Rory also decides that she’ll try and get noticed by promising her bosses a story, one that despite her claims, she has no connection to or “in” with.

This is rich with references to popular culture, in particular movies of the rom com variety. Rory was mostly raised by her grandparents while her actress mother was off filming and Rory and her grandmother watched a romantic comedy every week. Rory has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of these films and the moments within them. I don’t watch a lot of movies and despite being a huge romance reader, I find that rom com movies very rarely do it for me these days – too many of them seem to rely on cringey moments and regularly humiliating the protagonist and I don’t enjoy that. You can see some of this mirrored in this book, especially when Rory declares that she can get this story and then the extreme lengths she begins to go to, in order to try and deliver.

I enjoyed this but I also wanted a bit more from it. Rory’s relationship with Lucas was definitely something I felt could’ve been further developed later in the story, after her discovery. I wanted a bit more from her character growth wise, taking control of that situation instead of actually, Lucas being the one making the decisions even after the events. She also meets an interesting guy called Harry at some stage in the book who keeps popping up regularly and my little heart wanted more there as well. This isn’t a long book and I felt it could’ve handled a little more in both of those scenarios, which also would’ve really given Rory the chance to grow personally, as well as just having a professional epiphany.

But this is fun and lighthearted and I liked reading it. I could easily picture it as the sort of book that would be a comfort read for many. It has good pacing and there’s a lot of humour. Rory’s relationship with her grandmother is beautifully written and easily pictured and her somewhat complex relationship with her mother is also quite well done too, even though it still leaves the reader with a few questions.

A definite must for rom com lovers or pop culture nerds or those that can identify with needing a bit of direction in life.

7/10

Book #50 of 2022

Going to count this one towards my 2022 Aussie Author Challenge! It’s the 4th book read for the challenge (3rd by a female author and also it’s by an author that is new to me).

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