6 December 2010

Review: MEN I'VE LOVED BEFORE by Adele Parks ****

How do you know when you’ve met the one you’re meant to be with?
Neil and Nat are a match made in heaven. They hate marmite and the opera. They love smelly cheese and the missionary position. And they both absolutely do not want children.
At least that’s what Nat thought. But now Neil seems to have softened to the prospect of dirty nappies and sleepless nights, and he’s practically begging her for a baby. Nat, however, has no intention of swapping her high-flying career for a life of endless self-sacrifice. 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 little black book, filled with the names and addresses of previous lovers, could hold the answers she’s looking for. Or it could be a one-way ticket to all kinds of trouble. And is the perfect match too much to ask for?
This book hit so close to home that it was actually getting a bit scary, heh. Based on the description, I knew I'd be able to relate to it, but once I started reading it, it all sounded almost too familiar, especially the thoughts and the feelings and fears of Nat, the main character. As you can see above, the main twist of this story is that Nat and Neil, a happily married couple, have both agreed that do NOT want children, period. However, that changes overnight when Neil realizes that he actually wants to have children - he longs to become a father so his kids could have the same great childhood he had. So he goes all soft and mushy and mumbles: "Let's make babies." Nat thought he said, "Let's make love, baby," so you can imagine her shock when she learns what he really meant - yeah, EEK!

Obviously, this is a HUGE deal breaker in a relationship so their marriage goes into a massive crisis. They drift apart and start living separate lives, hiding the truth from one another. Neil finds comfort in a stripper with a cute little daughter and Nat starts meeting up with her exes, just double checking if any of them might be The One since Neil obviously doesn't seem to be ...

Firstly, I think the title of the book is completely WRONG because this novel is hardly about Nat's men she's loved before - all those men are barely mentioned (granted there were quite a few so the book could get rather long if those scenes were more detailed), plus all that stuff felt more like a filler to me and rather far fetched. I can't understand why that was chosen as the title of the book, when it's definitely not the main issue, but I suspect it's due to the commercial reasons - not many people relate to not wanting children, whereas everyone has people they've loved before so it sounds more relatable, right? I'm just guessing.

As I said above, I could really relate to the topic of the book so it's not at all surprising that I found it very engrossing. Like Nat, I'm also determined to never ever have children, which tends to shock people. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't like children (in fact, I adore them) or don't want to have them (I do actually ... I guess?), but I just feel like I shouldn't have children in this crazy, insane, horrible world ... I don't want to get into the reasons why because it's a long story and most people don't understand me, but this is something that's very important to me and something that I've promised to myself a looong time ago. My lovely boyfriend, on the other hand, is not so opposed to the idea of reproducing for the same reasons as Neil. He'd make a fantastic dad and he's the kind of person I'd love to have children with, but I really shouldn't and can't. So obviously this is bound to become a deal breaker for us too eventually, but we're only in our mid-20s so it's not something we actively think or argue about now, but we know each other's point of view. That's why I was so fascinated by this book - to see what happens when an important thing like that becomes an issue ...

Nat also has her own strong reasons for not wanting to become a mother - her reasons are completely different to mine, but I could still really relate to her feelings. She bears a secret that she hasn't even shared with Neil, which I found quite surprising, but I suppose that 'thing' just hurt her so much that she couldn't bear to talk about it, which is something that I understand. But still, I was surprised that not even her husband knew about something so basic.

I'm not too sure how I feel about the ending of the novel ... I appreciated the twists & turns because I was wondering what all the mess would result in. I suppose I shouldn't say I was disappointed by the ending because that's really not nice, but honestly I was happy for them and even got a little teary, aww.

Personal aspect of the novel aside, I thought the book was really well-written and definitely an improvement from Love Lies, which is the only other Adele Parks book I've read and was slightly unimpressed by it. This one, on the other hand, kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time, but I guess I'm a little biased, hehe.

Overall, this books not only met my expectations, but also exceeded them. It was a bit of a scary read due to my familiarity with the main issue, but well carried out. I wonder how people with children or the longing for them feel about books with a theme like this one? Reading this, I was immediately reminded of BABY PROOF by Emily Giffin as the books are rather similar in many ways. I really enjoyed that one too (I read it as soon as it was published a few years ago) and I'm glad that there are a few brave authors who decide to tackle this topic that not a lot of people can relate to.

overall rating:
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 3/5


Luisa at Chicklish said...

It really does sound interesting - and thanks for a truly fascinating review!

Adele Parks said...

Glad to read that you really enjoyed my latest book and just wanted to say thanks for the fab review and for spreading the word.

If you want to hear more from me then please feel free to sign up for my newsletter or join me on Facebook or Twitter. (all the links can be found on my website).

Happy reading


Sean Grey Hanson said...

Hmmm... I think this book might be a bit naughty and cheeky at the same time.

Post a Comment