A Poker Game of Love

A Poker Game of Love

by Alice Walsh

Elisa Pickard (04/18/14): First of all, I'd like to stress just how hard it is for me to be impressed with a book these days. I've pretty much gone through every phase since college - from chick-lit and obsessing about light, sugar-coated and easily digested romances to the oh-so-trendy craze with suspense thrillers circa Leonardo's Code. What I learned from all the books read was to always, always keep an open mind and don't presume anything.

I cannot honestly pinpoint what exactly made me buy this book. A little bit the cover and a little bit the blurb perhaps; maybe even the visit to the author's blog sealed the deal. I can never be sure, but her [at times] melancholic style caught my attention. Maybe I'm just at a place in my life, where sugar-coating things doesn't work anymore. Who knows. The bottom line is this is a book for a realist. You have to really be capable to appreciate things for what they are and have outgrown your adolescent idealism and brave hopes for a world, where we always get what we want when we want it - to be able to enjoy the picture the author has painted.

The story is fast-paced, concise and driven by conflict (inner or interpersonal); the characters are emotional, restless and struggling; their words are sharp, hurtful and enticing; the human need for validation, appreciation and understanding is portrayed in all its hopelessness and endearing childlike naivety with all the drawbacks that stem from poorly-thought decisions.

People read books to escape reality, but sometimes stumbling upon an accurate (albeit painful) portrayal of life can be just as enjoyable to pass time with. If nothing else - it is an approach to love we're not used to finding in a 'romance' novel.
Rating: ****

Kelly Ann Smith (03/30/14): I stumbled upon this completely by chance and am glad I did! Being an avid fan of chick-lit and contemporary romance I am a sucker for a good love story, you know - complete with Mr. Right and the whole happily-ever-after scenario. Well, this book has neither. Or rather - it has Mr. Right Now and a walk-through of how to make due in life without it crushing your soul. I actually enjoyed the real-life approach of the narrative and how full-blooded the characters are. Some come on top, others are left to pick up the pieces, but the author tells their story with the necessary dose of sarcasm to make you appreciate their predicaments for what they are - the desperate wandering of confused people, who grew up with TV defining what their love lives should be like. It's amusing to observe. Not to mention you're bound to recognize someone they one in the people from the book.

It's definitely not your typical chick-lit or romance novel and I get the feeling it's one of those books you either like or hate. I particularly liked the way the story shifts between woman/man perspective and how the lead characters struggle socially, emotionally, intellectually while everyone around them moves on, lets go and generally enjoys life. It felt very real. The hardship, the pain, the hurt, the rejection and the obsession. Overall I would recommend it to people who like a good love story, but are fed up with it unfolding in a strictly straight-forward way.
Rating: *****

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