Love Will Tear Us Apart by Holly Seddon

Review published on June 15, 2018.

Ian Curtis and Joy Division were my first thought when I picked this book up. I am wondering if I am alone in that? But tuning in to some of the other musical references within the book I am wondering whether that allusion was deliberate on the author’s part? There is something in that lyric that echoes some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I read the book.

In my ‘career’ as a reviewer I’ve read all of Holly Seddon’s books. And may I say what a joy it is to experience a writer developing, finding an author skin and feeling comfortable in it. The increasing confidence is palpable in this new book and, if I may be bold enough to assert, I think it is her best book to date.

Something else that impresses me about a writer developing is an ability to diversify. This novel departs from the psychological thriller flavour of the previous two books but the style and the integrity of the writing remains.

Whist the opening cover blurb might have you thinking When Harry met Sally, the concluding cover blurb is apt: “a moving and heartbreaking exploration of modern love and friendship”, and that is it perfectly. In fact, it goes beyond love and friendship to broader relationships. Some social comment too, both protagonists are from widely differing backgrounds.

Whilst you might expect some faster-paced, active writing from a thriller this is a more cerebral, slower tuned narrative inviting the reader to think and consider without jumping to conclusions. The implied secret is not divulged until nearer the end of the book and, again, it’s not a whistles and bells expose constant with today’s thrillers, rather it is a, not wholly unexpected, nuance.

The narrative switches from past to present fairly effortlessly and the passage of time is managed well within the novel when you consider that Paul and Kate met when they were eight years old. The storytelling felt very real with the occasional repetition of events that served to consolidate matters of importance and highlight human frailties. The catalyst for the story is the imminent ten year wedding anniversary of Paul and Kate and the portal for the entire history of their lives and their relationships to be divulged.

Paul and Kate are both well-drawn characters. Kate with her failings and weaknesses is possibly more real than Paul. Maybe that’s just me, sometimes he seemed too good, but possibly that was to highlight Kate’s insecurities? I think Ms Seddon understands the frailty of human nature and puts her understanding to fine use here in her characterisations.

There were some heart-stopping and some heartbreaking moments. I must admit I was prepared and steeling myself for an uncomfortable conclusion which didn’t happen. Is that a spoiler? If so, I do apologise. But I was paradoxically relieved and disappointed in equal measure! There’s no pleasing me!

But ultimately I was left with a good feeling; an enjoyable, well-written book that touched on the human condition without seeking to preach or resolve but allowing the reader to think and compare and consider that tenuous of all emotions – love.

Gill Chedgey 4/4

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Holly Seddon
Corvus 9781786490520 hbk Jun 2018

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