REVIEW: LIKE I CAN LOVE BY KIM LOCK

Due to time restraints while I work on my own novel, reviews on this site will simply comprise a book blurb and a short response.

Like I Can Love - Kim Lock

Kim Lock’s first novel, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks, is an intelligent and worthwhile novel about birth choices. Her second, Like I Can Love, highlights how talented and versatile this author is. Here’s the blurb:

On a hot January afternoon, Fairlie Winter receives a phone call. Her best friend has just taken her own life. Jenna Rudolph, 26 years old, has left behind a devoted husband, an adorable young son and a stunning vineyard. But Fairlie knows she should have seen this coming. Yet Fairlie doesn’t know what Jenna’s husband Ark is hiding, nor does she know what Jenna’s mother Evelyn did to drive mother and daughter apart all those years ago. Until Fairlie opens her mail and finds a letter. In Jenna’s handwriting. Along with a key.

Driven to search for answers, Fairlie uncovers a horrifying past, a desperate mother, and a devastating secret kept by those she loves the most.

Unsettling, challenging and thought-provoking, Like I Can Love, explores the things we do for love – or what we think is love. The headline is apt in that it immediately prompts a question-answer style response (“How do I love?”), but is chilling when the darker side of “love” or obsession is revealed. Lock brings readers a multi-faceted story about love between mothers and children, husbands and wives, lovers, and even best friends who are like sisters, showing how fickle, fragile, heartbreaking and dangerous love can be. Lock makes you question not only the nature of love, but whether something that seems unloving can actually be love, and vice versa.

Lock nailed the characterisation of Ark in particular – at one point I had to set the book aside because it triggered unwanted memories. There’s a scene when Jenna and Ark seek counselling that made me want to shake the counsellor for being so blind. While on the one hand it’s hard as a reader when a book evokes bad memories, it’s also testament to good writing that scenes, characters and settings draw out a more visceral reading experience. I identified strongly with Jenna, with her sense of feeling trapped, torn between duty and life. The story may be about Fairlie’s discoveries after Jenna’s death, but it belongs to Jenna, whose voice rings above them all, with a stark reminder of the nature of emotional abuse.

A gripping and emotionally charged read, Like I Can Love is a winner.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of Pan Macmillan.