Wednesday 19 September 2018

The Necessary Marriage by Elisa Lodato @LodatoElisa @wnbooks @JenKerslake #TheNecessaryMarriage

Jane is sixteen when she falls in love with her teacher. Leonard Campbell is everything she has ever wanted: handsome, intelligent and attentive. He singles Jane out, giving her novels to read and discuss over long walks and cosy dinners. It is only once married, tied down and tied down with two children in 1980s suburbia that Jane realises she might have settled too early, losing much of herself in the process.

Then Marion and Andrew, a couple whose passion frequently tips into violence, move in next door, forcing Jane to confront feelings she didn't know she could have. And when Marion abandons her family, Jane steps in to help with the couple's two boys, setting in motion a series of events, all of which expose the push and pull within every relationship. As desire and loyalty are blurred, it becomes clear that nobody can escape the devastating impact of a family falling apart.
The Necessary Marriage is an intense, intimate portrait of how couples come together and grow apart, and the passions that drive us to do crazy things.

The Necessary Marriage by Elisa Lodato was published by W&N on 23 August 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Earlier this year I read and reviewed Elisa Lodato's first novel; An Unremarkable Body. I was utterly transfixed by it and I said at the time that I was sure it would be in my Top Books of 2018. After reading her second novel, The Necessary Marriage, I am almost certain that this years's best books list will feature this author's name twice.

The Necessary Marriage is an elegant, gracefully written novel that looks at two very different marriages. The short prologue takes place in November 2001 as Julia, a schoolteacher is called to the telephone. Her sister has had a dreadful accident.

The reader is then swept back to 1974 where sixteen-year old Jane is studying for A Level History. She's also carefully studying her teacher, Leonard Campbell and this extremely talented author paints a vivid picture of him for her readers too. His dark brown suits and the hairs poking from his sleeves, his watch and his distinctive musky scent are described so well and he almost jumps from the page. Jane's own character, and her fairly isolated family life is beautifully presented too, and whilst she appears to be a quiet, studious girl, doted on by parents still grieving for her baby brother who died many years ago, she's also determined and quite stubborn.

Inevitably, Jane and Leonard become a couple, and despite initial horror from her parents, they go on to marry and have a family. Jane abandons her plans for University and stays at home to raise her two girls, whilst Leonard continues working as a teacher. He's a stern but loving father, and whilst it is obvious that he loves Jane, she begins to wonder if there's more to life.

When their elderly neighbour dies, and his son and daughter in law move into the empty house with their two boys, Jane becomes increasingly aware of the differences in the two marriages. Her new neighbours; Andrew and Marion are loud, and passionate and often violent. When Marion abandons her family and goes home to Ireland, Jane doesn't hesitate to step in, which angers and hurts quiet Leonard who can't understand how she can associate with the loud and brash Andrew.

I was absolutely swept away by this novel and read it over one weekend, hardly putting it down at all. Just as in her first novel, this author totally transported me to the era of the story. 1970s suburban England is brilliantly and expertly described and the incredible pull of the dangerous and the unknown for Jane was alluring and enticing.

The Necessary Marriage is powerful and gripping. This author has a magical way with words that just engulf me. Her characters are perfectly formed, with flaws and foibles that just add to their strength and make them completely real for me.

Both the story, and the author are strikingly brilliant, her ability to look at human relations is so astute. Wonderful, I loved every page and will recommend this highly.

Elisa Lodato grew up in London and read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge. 
After graduating she went to live in Japan where she spent a year teaching, travelling and learning to speak the language. 
On returning to the UK she spent many happy years working for Google before training to become an English teacher. 
Helping pupils to search for meaning in a text inspired Elisa to take up the pen and write her own. 

Her first novel, An Unremarkable Body, was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2016. 

Elisa lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and two children.

Find out more at
Twitter @LodatoElisa

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