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Booker Longlist – Love and Other Thought Experiments – Sophie Ward

Love

Book Eleven – reviewed by panelists Book Worm, Tracy, Nicole, rated by Lisa and Susie.

Sophie Ward  was born and raised in London

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: 

Rachel and Eliza are hoping to have a baby. The couple spend many happy evenings together planning for the future. One night Rachel wakes up screaming and tells Eliza that an ant has crawled into her eye and is stuck there. She knows it sounds mad – but she also knows it’s true. As a scientist, Eliza won’t take Rachel’s fear seriously and they have a bitter fight. Suddenly their entire relationship is called into question.
Told in ten interconnecting but self-contained chapters – each from a different character’s perspective – and inspired by some of the best-known thought experiments in philosophy, particularly philosophy of mind, Love and Other Thought Experiments is a story of love lost and found across the universe.

(This book does not have a US publication date yet)

Tracy’s Thoughts: I loved this. I’m not sure how to explain what I loved so much without spoilers, but I’ll try.

The relationships- they’re so refreshingly normal, even though the characters are quirky, and each chapter is told by a different character, so the reader gets just enough of them. This is a device used by other authors, but I’ve never seen it done this effectively. The emotions of the characters are also so well done- I shared their feels. 

There are multiple references to other works, people and events, and it feels like a bit of history, though it has an odd timeline. The author uses philosophy, psychology, science, and science fiction in an effective and clever manner. I plan to go back and find all these references one day. 

Basically, this is Arthur’s odyssey, and his quest is fascinating. There is one chapter that I initially felt went off the rails, but I have reread it, and I do see the need for it, though it could have been shorter. 

I can’t recommend this book enough- it is easily one of my top reads for this year. 

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 19/20

Nicole’s Thoughts:  When I read the description of this book, I thought no thanks.  I’m not good with connected short stories, and that’s how I read it.  But make no mistake – this is a novel – unconventional, but a novel.  Creative in structure and content.  It was sophisticated, interesting, fun, and at times funny.

I know a lot of it went over my head, I’m definitely not philosophical.

A really impressive book, which was also fun and a fast read.  It reminded me a bit of Cloud Atlas (loosely).   This is the kind of book I expect to see on the Booker list.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 17.5/20

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I fully expected to love this book based on the blurb but once I started reading I realised I just didn’t get it. Yes I liked the cross overs and spotting where each storyline intersected but I really couldn’t buy into the ending which meant that everything that came before was tainted.

I thought the ending was going in one direction (Many Worlds Theory) and I could totally buy that but then we went off on a completely different tangent and the book lost me and its credibility in my eyes.

What I did enjoy was the exploration of relationships, parenthood and what it is that actually makes a family. I also liked the way the chapters were framed by famous thought experiments. None of this was enough to make me love the book. That said I can’t deny this was a highly original story.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 14/20

Ratings:

Lisa 

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Susie 

Writing quality: 4.5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 19/20

Rankings

  1. Apeirogon 18
  2. Love and Other Thought Experiments 17.5
  3. How Much of These Hills is Gold 16.1
  4. The Shadow King15.5
  5. Shuggie Bain 15.3
  6. Real Life 13.9
  7. This Mournable Body 12.3
  8. Burnt Sugar11.8
  9. Such a Fun Age 11.1
  10. Redhead at the Side of the Road 11
  11. The New Wilderness 10.4

Is this one that’s been on your radar?

One Comment Post a comment
  1. pbtanita #

    I wasn’t able to finish this book on time, but so far am totally enjoying it! These reviews intrigue me.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 11, 2020

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