Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Men I've Loved Before - Adele Parks


Pages: 384

Published: 2010

Date Finished: 28th April 2011

Rating: 4 Stars

Neil and Nat are a match made in heaven. They hate marmite and opera, they love reality TV and the missionary position. And they both absolutely do not want children.

At least that’s what Nat thought. But now Neil has made a U-turn and no longer dreads the prospect of dirty nappies and sleepless nights; he’s practically begging her for a baby. Nat, however, has no intention of swapping her independence and career for a life of endless self-sacrifice. She won't budge and can't explain why. As the cracks start to show, Nat wonders if Neil really is the man of her dreams. Or is it possible that someone from her past could actually be ‘the one’?

Nat’s got a little black book, filled with the names and addresses of previous lovers, could it hold the answers she’s looking for. Or it could be a one-way ticket to all kinds of trouble.

How do you know when you’ve met the one you’re meant to be with? And is the perfect match too much to ask for? – Good Reads Synopsis


When I began reading this book I think I expected to find another female character that followed the norms, and while her journey throughout the book hit a few core elements of a traditional woman, I did enjoy Natalie’s adamant nature and her career driven ambitions. In a modern world where women have more choices and freedom Nat’s is one of many hundreds of women who choose not to have children.

This is a rough topic for me, and throughout the novel I was challenged with her reasons, her actions and the world around her. When I learned the truth about her choices I had mixed feelings and those carried with me throughout the rest of the novel.

What I didn’t like about Nat was her need to keep secrets from her husband and their ‘perfect relationship’. Throughout the novel, while knowing its need for the conflict I often got frustrated with her lack of honesty and it helped me lean more towards Neil, the main male character. Who while during the last half of the book makes me question his personality, still remained fairly genuine throughout the novel.

Add to this mixture the minor characters, who for the most part came together beautifully. I connected with them on so many levels and I enjoyed getting a peak into their lives- past and present as well as the main characters. Each of the men in the little black book caused me to cringe and smile, often causing me into a fit of giggles or an excitable state where all I felt like doing was reaching into the novel to get to know them.

To begin with I thought her Adele’s writing was strange and a little over descriptive, but when I searched my mind I knew it was the unfamiliar that was stilting. While it took a few chapters to overcome my main concern was too much introspective information. However, when the story really kicked off I found myself enjoying getting to know the characters and their situations more deeply.

Overall it was a fun and provoking read, one that will challenge. I will be seeking more of Adele’s novels in the future, as Men I’ve loved before was a brilliant book to curl up with. I would certainly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good chick-lit novel to add to their collection and challenges.


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