Monday 15 July 2019

Dialogue of love and despair

Fiction: The Book of Love, Fionnuala Kearney, Harper Collins, €12.74

The Book of Love
The Book of Love

Margaret Madden

Erin and Dom marry and are determined to prove the naysayers wrong. They are young, expecting their first child, "She and Dom hadn't known each other long enough yet to have a song… They'd known each other long enough to create the human being that danced inside her, but not long enough to have a song."

A gift from Erin's father, Fitz, turns out to be an invaluable asset to the marriage: "amongst layers of tissue paper, lay a leather-bound notebook… Her forefinger traced the embossed words on the front: 'What am I? I am The Book of Love, The pages of truth with its light and shade. I am Love, And if real, I will never fade'."

The book is designed to create discourse within a marriage. Each person is encouraged to write their true feelings within the safe space of the notebook. Two tips are passed on - via Fitz - to the newlyweds, regarding The Book of Love: "First, don't do it too often, it's a route to talking about difficult things not the only place to mention them. And second, when you write something, start and end it with love…"

Dom and Erin are wildly in love and are soon welcoming baby Maisie into their lives and learning to blend together as a family. The Book of Love becomes useful as Erin battles insomnia and learns to offload some of her anxieties in written form. The entries are honest and offer a glimpse into the minds of the young couple. Dom tends to keep his notes brief and to the point but still manages to emphasise his love for Erin. He oozes confidence in their relationship and dismisses Erin's fears.

A sequence of events shatters the couple's lives and their love for each other is pushed to the limit. How can two people re-connect with permanent cracks in their framework? The Book of Love allows for a dialogue of hope, love, despair and mistrust. But most of all, there is regret and a physical reminder of what love was, and what could be done to bring it back. An emotional journey through a tested marriage. Beautifully crafted.

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