Elle’s A to Z of Love – Claire Huston

This book grew on me exponentially, which is a bit of a problem. The more I read, the more I wanted to read – yet the closer I then came to the end. Still, if that’s my greatest problem in life, I’m doing ok.

The book made laugh on the very first page, with the disdain and resentment with which Elle, working in a library, treats an ‘interloper’ who intrudes on her peace and quiet and day dreaming, and I thought this subtle humour augured well for the remainder of the book. Indeed this ‘relationship’ ends up being a recurring thread throughout the whole book, which I found a delightful quirk. I loved the way that Elle compared her trespasser to a Quentin Blake cartoon, coming to life, in looks. I find reading a book a bit like meeting a new person. I fairly immediately know when I meet a new person, whether or not I’m going to like them. In the same vein, I tend to know within having read a few pages of a new book, whether or not I’m going to enjoy it. I can confirm that this book is a ‘keeper’.

Adam breaking up with Elle was described in such a realistic way that I really felt for Elle. The good thing that came out of it was a thawing in the relationship with Toby. He always seemed more like Elle’s sort of person to me.

One of the main threads that I loved throughout this whole book, was the enduring email friendship between Elle and Zach. Whilst on this thread, I adored the life-long relationship between Elle and Toby and felt as bad as his Nan, in being desperate for their friendship to blossom into something more serious. They just seemed a perfect match in so many ways.

My heart was absolutely in my mouth, when I read about the incident with Elle and the school bullies, such was the precision and realism in the writing. Until then I hadn’t thought and awful lot of Adam, but this story changed my thoughts on him entirely. The way he rescued Elle was faultless and gave me a whole new perspective on his character. I was also given an insight into Elle’s past, although I would have preferred her not to have gone through this terrible bullying ordeal.

Such was my commitment to the characters in this book, I found myself confused at Elle’s competition success – like her, torn between sharing her lack of confidence, and being so utterly thrilled at the opportunities being afforded to her. The author portrayed Elle’s dilemmas so accurately, it really did feel like a personal situation and I couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment, as though it was real life and I was the one having to make decisions. I was genuinely flummoxed when, just before Elle departs on her blogging prize trip, things look as though they are hotting up between her and Toby. The author had made the story so real for me that I felt quite flustered. On the one hand, Elle had worked so hard for her trip if a lifetime, and if Toby really loved her, he would still be waiting for her when she got back. Conversely, why allow anything to block the path of true love? I found myself getting quite het up about this dilemma, and just had to give myself a gentle reminder that this wasn’t real and I was ‘just’ reading a book! If the truth be known, I had found myself so desperately wanting some romantic action to happen between Toby and Elle for so long, that I almost found myself responsible for this ill timed romantic interlude!

’Ill timing’ – a doubly ironic phrase for this book. Perhaps ‘badly timed’ would be better. It almost felt as though something nice couldn’t happen in this book, without being counterbalanced by some element of sadness of tragedy. I felt as though we had both, with the terminal illness diagnosis of Elle’s Mother. The way the news was delivered to Elle was so well written, I felt genuine sadness and cried real tears for both Elle and her long suffering Father; it started to seem as though Elle was destined to be denied happiness in her life. I have spent excessive periods time as a hospital in patient over the last few years and the author’sqep bleak description of the insides of hospitals, rang very true. I felt additional sadness at the news that Elle hadn’t gone on her prize winning trip, owing to her Mother’s illness; I felt this was a brave decision on the author’s part, yet it was the most realistic option. Despite the tragic storyline, I loved the author’s wicked sense of humour and irony, when she announced that Elle’s Mother hadn’t been talking to her, owing to the fact that she had opted to stay at home with her terminally ill Mother, rather than go on a 6 month blog tour abroad!

I actually learned a new word in this book. Mrs Harlan was described as ‘having conniptions’. It was a fantastic phrase; I just loved the sound of it and on looking the word ‘conniptions’ up in the dictionary, it proved to be as onomatopoeic as it sounded!

I couldn’t help but be concerned about Elle’s new lodger – the enigmatic Faye. The author had started to build up a bit of a trail of intrigue about her and I couldn’t help but feel concerned for Elle and how this might pan out to affect her. Does Faye have pecuniary problems? QElle really doesn’t need any more to worry about in her life, with her Mother’s illness at the top of the list. Indeed the descriptions of her Mother are incredibly brave and powerful and must have seemed all to familiar to anyone who has had a loved one go through a terrible cancer diagnosis, or who has suffered themselves. Elle’s Mother’s barbed declaration to Elle, that whilst she had never wanted to have children, she was now glad that she had been persuaded to have a child, because she was proud of Elle, was heart wrenchingly sad. I felt that it was a brave piece of writing and a unique choice of story pathway. The writing evoked sympathy for Elle, and promoted yet more tears and I adored the appropriately unmotherly advice ‘You have to grab it by the throat before it passes you by and it’s too late to do anything about it.’

For me, the most devastating part of the whole book, as when Elle catches Zach, ostensibly Faye’s latest conquest, creeping downstairs the morning after the village disco. What a terrible moment. Zach, with whom Elle has been having a special email friendship with, for years, appears fallen for Faye’s charms. I was truly devastated, as I can imagine Elle would have been. This was a great thread to the story, so unexpected, yet so sad! Equally unexpected, was the reappearance of Elle’s ex, Adam, although unsurprisingly he has a hidden agenda. I say hidden, but everyone seems to know what us going on in Adam’s head, apart from Elle.

The all round irony of this story, from the start, to its dying embers, was not lost on me. This whole story started, in one of Elle’s favourite places, the library, with a stranger, a young man called Zach, getting bashed on the head with a book. The enduring thread throughout the whole book, is the email correspondence that takes place between Elle and Zach, over a period of many years. Their online friendship endures through various life events and changes in partners, and then almost falls apart over a misunderstanding, only for the story to end, (as far as this chapter in Elle and Zach’s life is concerned) in one of Elle’s favourite places (she has never been there – she’s only read about it in books), the beautiful city of Florence, with a stranger getting bashed on the head with a book, as a result of Elle trying to stop a bag thief in his tracks.

What an amazing story, full circle, from start to finish!

To get hold of this book for yourself, just use this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hunnisproduct/B096SMVRD4


One thought on “Elle’s A to Z of Love – Claire Huston

  1. Thank you for reading and reviewing Elle’s A to Z of Love and taking part in the blog tour! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. And conniptions is one of my all-time favourite words and I was pleased I could get it in a book 🙂


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