Love May Fail, by Matthew Quick

Publisher:  Picador (Pan Macmillan)  |  Publication date: 4th June 2015  |  Edition: Review copy

Love may fail by Matthew Quick

The rollercoaster ride of life that is ‘Love May Fail’.

What a curiously clever story. With sparks of dry humour and episodes of oddness, it’s MUCH deeper than I initially gave it credit for.

So why did I have reservations before starting it? Well, the cover didn’t call to me (I know, I know). Truthfully, it’s not a book I would pick up if that were the only factor. Plus, it has the dreaded word ‘L’ word in the title, and books featuring romantic antics do not generally agree with me.

And my point is? Don’t make stupid assumptions (like wot I dun), and here’s why:

When Portia Kane discovers that her husband, ‘porn-movie-king-Ken’, has been engaging in the company of other ladies, her life changes drastically – I almost didn’t give it a chance either, but please, bear with me…

After a particularly humiliating showdown, when she catches him the act with his new young love, Portia leaves him and decides to make her way back to her humble beginnings. The journey that follows sets in motion a series of odd occurrences, which could only be explained by either ‘divine intervention’, or a mahoosive case of coincidences.

The story is told in four parts, by an intriguing gaggle of people with a foible to share: in addition to the eager Portia Kane, there’s a nun, Sister Maeve Smith, who Ms Kane pours her inebriated little heart out to. There’s Chuck Bass, who’s passionate about 1980’s rock, and the brother of her best friend in high school. And then there’s her old high school teacher, Nate Vernon, a father figure in the absence of her own, with an alternative method of teaching that reached many of his students, even if they didn’t fully appreciate his efforts at the time.

On returning ‘home’ to her obsessive compulsive hoarder mum, Portia learns that Mr Vernon had been horrifically attacked by one of his students and has withdrawn from the world. She makes it her goal to ‘save him’ from himself (even if he just wished she’d go away – and quickly).

The cast off Love May Fail are continuously thrown together throughout this crazy theatre of life. But, is it fate that incessantly interferes with this disjointed little band, linking them in inexplicable ways and encouraging them to save each other? Or, are the weird events they experience all their own making? That will be for you to decide.

I give you fair warning, this book will seriously affect your mood – for the better. Anyhoo, I’ll just nonchalantly regurgitate some curious snippets here, as a little taster if you like:

  • The high school teacher actively holds conversations with his dog, a poodle called Albert Camus (he’s a French, Nobel Prize-winning author in case you didn’t know – the writer that is, not the dog).
  • Chuck Bass’s eight year old nephew performs a rock tribute act called ‘Shot with a Fart’.
  • But more interestingly, the title of the book ‘Love May Fail’ is taken from the opening of Kurt Vonnegut’s book, Jailbird. After reading most of his work, a high school student said he believed that the single idea that lay at the core of Vonnegut’s life’s work was: “Love may fail, but courtesy will prevail.” It was also a phrase that featured on a poster in Mr Vernon’s classroom…

And there you have it. A highly enjoyable and quirkily humorous read, which I’m sure will brighten many a dark corner. 

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this little gem for review.  Twitter: @LucieTwiggs)

You can follow the author on Twitter: @MatthewQuick21  |  Publisher: @picadorbooks

Want to know more? Here’s the author’s website:

Conversations with Spirits, by E O Higgins

Publisher: Unbound | Publication date: 13th March 2014 | Edition: Paperback (own copy)

‘A drink, Horrocks,’ I called out to the waiting barman. ‘Better make it strong, I have a mouth as dry as a Shavian Epigram…’

Conversation with spirits

Fancy a conversation with spirits? Trelawney Hart certainly did…

So happy to have seen the New Year in with Conversations With Spirits (the book, that is).

I completely adored this book: the story, the wit, the characters – especially the main chap, Trelawney Hart. His apparent genius is often supressed by his eternal desire for cherry brandy, which he consumes in extraordinarily large quantities.

The writing is first class, you can almost imagine the clinking of glasses in the numerous bars that Hart visits. And everyone can enjoy the Sherlock Holmes references without being an avid fan; Conan Doyle’s appearance is entirely convincing in his capacity as advocate to the spiritualist world, even Harry Price of The Borley Rectory ‘fame’ (the most haunted house in England) makes his presence known – simply brilliant.

To summarise very briefly, Mr Hart is called upon to bear witness to the extraordinary feat of a man walking through a solid brick wall. His job is to debunk if he can, but with photographic evidence showing no doubt as to what has occurred, and other eye-witnesses testifying to this magical event, why then is he the only one who disbelieves what his eyes are showing him?

He meets some odd ball characters along the way, drinks far too much, and seems to spend a lot of time confined to his bed or the floor, but what can I say – I loved it.

My only regret? Not buying the hardback version.

Rating: 5/5

You can follow the writer on Twitter: @eohiggins

He has a few odd snippets to offer on occasion, so it’s pretty entertaining.

Published by @unbounders