A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
I feel I should warn you that this is an adult novel.
I’m going to be posting here and there about grown-up books and I’m not entirely sure how to introduce them. I know that a post from me normally means kids/teens. So how do I change tack? Should I just put a warning at the top? But then, I think that sounds like I’m warning you away from the novel and that might just not be the case. I also think it looks like I’m saying it’s an “Adult” novel in the sort of X-Rated book way… and I probably wouldn’t be reviewing any of my favourites of those (too much of a minefield describing how it made me feel…!!!).
Anyway, I think the above is fair warning, don’t you?
Love Virtually has been a huge hit in the original German, selling over a million copies. This English translation is due to be released on 3rd February. Not having read too many translations, I’m not sure if you’re supposed to notice… I didn’t.
This is a love story for the 21st Century. It is an epistolary novel but instead of the old fashioned pen and ink, the protagonists communicate via email. Leo is on the receiving end of an email from Emmi who is writing to cancel her magazine subscription. Only he’s not the magazine. If only we could all end up meeting Mr Right by mistyping an email address. Their correspondence continues until they are truly caught up in each others lives. All taking place via email.
The trouble is… Emmi is happily married. Or so she professes. I have my doubts that such a wondrously happily married woman would write some of the things she does late at night with the help of a glass or two of wine. But she is instant.
They make a plan to meet. Only the plan doesn’t include actually making a rendezvous. They have to be in the same cafe, at the same time and see if they can guess who each other are. I guess at this point, the blatantly forward side of me was screaming, “oh for goodness sake, just grow up and get it on!” On the other hand, it was very romantic. (I’m just a little bit perplexed at the serendipity of the two of them meeting on the World Wide Web and without preamble knowing they both lived in the same city… but let’s gloss over that part.)
There was a touch of the voyeurism in the reading of Love Virtually. I felt as though I was rifling through someone’s knicker drawer and prying into their secret correspondence in a way I’ve never felt reading a traditionally written novel. And I have to say, I really, really enjoyed this aspect. (Slightly concerned as to what this says about me :))
Love Virtually is incredibly well written. There is nothing to provide setting, place, a sense of the bustle of everyday life. These are all emails. A whole book of them. And yet, I was totally immersed in this story. Yes, I reached points where I was infuriated by Emmi’s unreasonable behaviour, and by Leo’s constant patience with her. I was frustrated by the almost teenage coyness and lack of real-life action despite them both baring their souls with words. But this seems important. The way I was made to feel by this novel is a way I’ve rarely felt with other romantic novels where the pay-offs come at the appropriate times. This was a whole new reading experience and by the denouement, I found I had thoroughly enjoyed the whole frustrating ride.
I highly recommend Love Virtually. There are some laughs, some fabulous moments of tenderness and understanding and an ending that seems wholly right for the situation. Read it, you won’t be disappointed.
(P.S… ignore the cover, it’s awful – but then that often happens. It’s no reflection on the story!)
Sounds fascinating, Eve – I might well take a look at this, many thanks. Though I do so agree with you that the cover is beyond horrendous!!! Who on earth let that through??
I am always interested in a well written book, although I confess to having very little patience with characters that act unreasonably–and I mean unreasonably given their context. So I’m not sure how I would do with Emmi.
On another front, if people don’t want to review their favorite ADULT books for reasons already stated, it would be fun to see all of the book foxes’ top ten lists . . .
I like characters like Raskolnikov or whoever who do act somewhat unreasonably. I think it sounds a fascinating book and I also enjoyed the review. As a rather poor book reviewer, I think it must be good for us to review books which have redeeming features but are not in our favourite territory- because that broadens our reading tastes. Best wishes, Jon.
Isn’t it supposed to be Cupid on the cover? But, is the picture on bathroom tiles, or what is that textured effect for?
Having recently read the Potato Peel Pie book, which is told completely in snail mail letters, that sort of format can work well when done with skill & not seem gimmicky at all. Glattauer’s book seems to be on a similar plane. I was looking forward to this review, because it seemed like such a modern setting for a book & I wondered how it all came together. Sounds very likable & something I would enjoy reading.
One I really want to read. I love the epistolary form because at some point they have to meet really and I find the change in the letters/emails that comes after the meeting fascinating.
I think it’s meant to be cupid on a keyboard. I like the cover a lot. And the book.
I thought the cover was quite good too, although the first time I looked I didn’t see cupid so much as a scary red demon (inkblot test anyone?) but I think that cover would catch my eye in a bookshop and lead me to read the blurb. Nice review, Eve. Am enjoying your reviews of ‘adult’ novels!
Oh and Christine, Rosy reviewed one of her favourites here:
Hi, thanks so much for the great review. I’m the Assistant Editor at MacLehose Press and for the next few days until publication I will be tweeting the first chapter of the book from @LoveVirtually [ http://twitter.com/LoveVirtually%5D bit by bit. A fun way to try before you buy.
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I loved, loved, loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and became completely immersed in the life of Emmi and Leo. The ending has left me shaken with a lump in my thoat, and panting for more – I need to read the next book, but have to wait!!!!!
am I the only one who thought it was boring?
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Eve, I’ve just finished reading this book. Such a quick, addictive little read. A real page-turner. However, I had the strange reaction of both loving and hating the book. I loved the interactions between the characters and the way that their relationship played out, but I hated the ending, because it was so predictable! About thirty pages in, I was convinced I knew how it was going to end, and it ended EXACTLY as I thought it would, which was a bit of a let down. I don’t know. I want to read the sequel now, as I thought both characters were really engaging and had interesting flaws and I want to spend more time in their little world of two. But I think it’s a while before the sequel is translated into English. Grrr. Maybe I’ll review the sequel here (if you don’t nab it first, Eve 🙂 ) P.S. my copy of Love Virtually had a much nicer cover, thank heavens!
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