Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Those Wacky Stories of Mismatched Love

 Nothing tests the old cliche "Opposites attract" like a story of the search for love (see The Rosie Project)--unless it's a story of love gone awry.  Several of the novels I've read in recent days or months take the romantic comedy approach to plot: Take one geeky scientist and introduce him to a knockout gorgeous artist--fireworks with the potential explosion OR fizzle.

In The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion (scientist-turned author-turned TED talker) produced a tender, laugh-out-loud love story charming enough that more than one fellow reader I know pre-ordered the sequel just out, The Rosie Effect.  We do love to see love work out.
In I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, Courtney Maum reverses the formula, starting with a British artist (male) who falls in love and marries a beautiful French woman--then  when parenthood cools the relationship, he cheats--quite clumsily.  The plot, during which he is banished by his wife, who goes to her parents' home, send Richard back home to England, where he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a happily married stranger he meets in transit and then spends time observing the lovely, lasting marriage of his own parents.  Along the way, he find artistic direction, breaking out of the commercially successful but unfulfilling body of work he has been producing--his "keyhole paintings" to direct his efforts toward work with more political umph--while plotting to win back his wife.

David Nicholls' current bestseller Us opens with a family about to take the Grand Tour of Europe upon their son's graduation from high school, just as the wife Connie--an artist who has turned her back on her own work to do museum education--tells her scientist nerd husband that she doesn't think their marriage is working.  But she still wants to take the European trip.

Moving back and forth between the past and present, Nicholls reveals how this unlikely pair ended up together and explores Douglas Peterson's troubling relationship with their son Albie, a sullen boy who never actually wanted to take the trip at all.  Again, the story focuses on Douglas's attempt to repair the damage he realizes he has caused--launching him into an almost impossible mission.

All three books--and many like them--leave me rooting for the protagonist, generally a great bumbler, just hoping to capitalize on the fortunate luck that might lead to love or else recapture what led to it in the first place.


No comments: