Friday, March 13, 2015

Lindsey Paley book review, The Crazy Pursuit of Love

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From the Publisher:
Or ‘Lydia’s Lessons in Love’ - a round-the-world jaunt to find the secrets of love.

Ditched by her husband and her boss, desolate at her impending divorce, Lydia Chambers is challenged by her friend, Professor Rachel Denton, to travel the world in search of answers to the age-old question - ‘What is love, anyway?’- for a research project.

Her friends, Hollie and Jasper, demand that she sends home regular bulletins for them to put into practice in their ailing love lives. And so, Lydia’s crazy global pursuit of ‘Lessons in Love’ is born.

First up is Malta, the golden-hued museum of the Mediterranean, where she meets gorgeous Niko. Does she fall it love? She sends home her first ‘lessons in love’ for her friends’ delectation.

Next is a trip to the tropical paradise of Hawai’i, where surfer and firefighter, Steve, sends her heart soaring amongst the surf-boards of Waikiki Beach. More ‘lessons in love’ follow for Hollie and Jasper to mull over.

Then on to Singapore, Gateway to the Orient, where Lydia samples the delights of south east Asian cuisine with her friend Elliot, head chef at a luxury hotel, and she discovers more bulletins to dispatch home.

Denmark tops the Happiness Index in Europe - so why does it boast the highest divorce rate? Does divorce make people happy? Perhaps Prof. Peter Andersen can help Lydia unravel the mystery.

Finally, the capital city of love and romance, Paris. What will she learn amongst the palaces and bridges of the City of Light?

Find out what Lydia learned from her ‘lessons in love’ in 'The Crazy Pursuit of Love’. 

My review:
Paley's story of marriage gone awry is a master sentiment of the institution in the 21st century. Witty, absolutely charming, breath-taking and delicious, Paley's fiction may read like a tongue in cheek whirlwind tour of what makes marriage work in the modern world, and what makes it unwind, but I think she's scored a major truth.

Empathetic to a fault divorce attorney Lydia is way too good at what she does. The only really surprised by her husband's petition for divorce one. Not even Lydia. Saved by the deep love of a friend from going insane during a forced six-month sabbatical, Lydia jets off, extremely reluctantly, to help Rachel on a research project about what makes marriage work in different environments around the world. Met and nurtured by carefully placed chums in exotic locations, Lydia is forced to examine marriage in all kinds of situations, the good, the bad, and the ugly, to realize and heal from her mistakes, and reevaluate her priorities. Taking a good look at the life she was hiding from, including a fancy apartment she was never home long enough to enjoy, is a good start.

What makes a perfect mate? Why and how to stay together for life? Is it possible, and who can do that? With her reputation shredding at the hands of a back-stabbing partner, and no support from the company she gave herself to for a decade, Lydia challenges herself and her friends to answer those questions. Lydia's always had what she needed within her grasp, as she applies her specific lessons to the success stories to test her theories. Is it too late to use the lessons she's uncovered for herself?

Told in third person mostly from Lydia’s point of view with a few scenes from her husband and occasional friends, Paley’s very British style of story-telling is a virtual tour of romantic places. Filled with food and cultural details, the reader sits next to Lydia as she begins to break down the rigid layer of “busy-useful” she built around herself. An excellent read for those who enjoy travel and intellectual characters in situations of self-examination.


  1. Replies
    1. It is great. I obviously don't have time to read every word of every single book I review, but I did this one.