The Happy Couple
by Naoise Dolan (W&N £16.99, 288pp)
Author of the best-seller Exciting Times, Dolan’s latest is a deep dive into love, betrayal, monogamy and sexuality.
Set over the course of a year leading up to a wedding, it charts the lives of the bride and groom, best man, bridesmaid and a guest as their lives intersect in the run up to the big day.
It quickly becomes apparent that the happy couple, Celine and Luke, are not as delighted with each other as one might hope for two people about to make such a commitment.
Celine’s one true love is her piano and Luke is a serial cheater. Best man Archie has been in love with Luke for ever, but even more so since they slept together a few months ago — and he’s finding it hard to get excited about any wedding stuff.
I loved everything about this ferociously clever contemporary reworking of the marriage plot. Sensational.
by Lucy Vine (S&S £8.99, 432pp)
Esther has got a brilliant job and wonderful friends, but what she really wants is to find her Mr Right and embark on a fairytale relationship with the man of her dreams.
She’s in the pub with her two flatmates when she comes across an old magazine article about how there are seven people a woman dates before she finds ‘the one’.
The seven are categorised as first love, work mistake, the overlap, friends with benefits, missed chance, bastard and the serious one. Esther realises that each of her exes fits these types and decides to revisit them in case she threw away her perfect person by accident.
It’s not all hearts and flowers, however. This re-engagement with her past relationships exposes all the negative emotions which accompanied them, and begins to prove that exes are mostly ex for a reason. Funny and heart-warming.
The Cassandra Complex
by Holly Smale (Century £14.99, 432pp)
On the same day that Cassie’s boyfriend, Will, breaks up with her out of nowhere, she also loses her job.
In a bracing exit interview with her boss, she is informed that the problem isn’t her work performance — but rather her personality and general demeanour.
Another area of Cassie’s life that’s going abysmally badly is her flat-share in London — she’s on her sixth in ten years and relations within are now so fractious it seems like she’ll soon be looking for a seventh.
It’s clear that the common denominator in all these negative events in her life is Cassie herself. What’s not clear is how she ends up reliving the same awful day, all over again. Somehow, Cassie is time travelling.
She can’t get back to the exact places in history she wants to go, but soon learns she can make changes to her recent behaviour, creating different and much better outcomes. Change causes growth and I rooted for Cassie throughout. Wonderful.
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