SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT BY TESS WOODS

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). 

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Australian author Tess Woods made the brave choice of writing about infidelity in her debut novel. It is a topic many find uncomfortable – some choose not to read about books with this theme, others find that the topic triggers painful memories – but the sad fact is that infidelity affects many, many relationships. Why not write about something that has the capacity to break, alter, shift and challenge relationships? Why not delve into characters’ motivations, emotions and choices? Woods has written a thought-provoking guest post on Book Muster Down Under called “Why is writing about infidelity taboo but brutal murder isn’t?” It’s worth a read, just as Love at First Flight is. Here’s the blurb:

Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture-perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

Flawed and damaged characters, questionable choices, painful consequences – Love at First Flight ticks all these boxes and more. The novel examines the impact of an immediate and powerful attraction between two people who most definitely should not be looking for love in other places. Both are attached – the wife in this case is not the victim; both have reasons for being dissatisfied and for welcoming, if tentatively on Mel’s part at first, flirtation from another person. Destruction is unavoidable, but its pathway is bigger than Mel and Matt ever imagine.

Love at First Flight is well-written, intricate and thought-provoking. It explores the everyday up-and-down cycles of marriage and compounds this with a journey of desire and self-destruction. Conflicting emotions (as much for the reader as the characters) compete for attention; the difference between the male and female experience is cleverly highlighted as Mel is torn between duty and desire, but Matt is quicker to ignore his obligations.

For me, the book was unsettling, but equally hard to put down. It’s not always nice to be in Mel’s head, especially when so many of her actions are questionable, but Woods makes you want to find out why she’s in such a dark place. My only quibble relates to the ending, which seemed glossed over emotionally and unfair to Mel’s husband, Adam; at the same time, I can understand why Woods might have chosen this way, but I can’t write more without revealing spoilers. Big picture, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy books that make me think, books that turn stereotypes upside down … and that’s exactly what Love at First Flight did. I’m keen to see what Woods comes up with next.

Available as an e-Book from online bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Netgalley via HarperCollins Australia.