All the readers who have closely followed my blog, will know that I’m a big fan of Annabelle Costa and that she has had a strong influence on my writing. This is the latest novel of hers I have read. Once more, it is a romance story between a disabled man (John) who is a quadriplegic and his future love (Kirby).
The book begins with Kirby’s long-distance boyfriend surprising her at a friend’s wedding and proposing. Kirby says yes, excited about the proposal and finally reaching the next stage of her life. Kirby lives in New York, while her fiance, Ted, lives in Silicon Valley. They met online and have spent very little time together. Ted asks Kirby to meet up with his best man (oops) and help him with some of the best man duties.
This love story takes a few twists and turns a long the way. Okay, things don’t look great at the start, the woman is after all engaged to his supposed best friend. Now, I suppose one guy stealing a woman from another guy is not something that I would usually condone, but as he’s in a wheelchair and the other guy is not, so I’m willing to make an exception. Not sure why, like I wouldn’t be the biased type.
So, there’s that and the fact that their first meeting goes horrendously. John comes across as obnoxious and not the kind of person that you would want to get to know better. But as time goes on you see things from his perspective and he becomes less horrid. Kirby and Ted (her fiance) gradually grow apart, well on her side anyway!
Generally, this is quite an uplifting story but there are some raw and cutting scenes. At one point when John is on a date and a woman asks for money to stay cause he’s unable to walk. Then there’s the mugger that pushes him out of the wheelchair and how helpless he feels. We also learn about some of John’s day to day struggles. That’s one of the things I like about this author, she has insight into the obstacles of living with a disability.
One criticism though is that the character of the fiance is very two dimensional. She makes it too easy to be against him. Even right up to the end, he has no redeemable characteristics. The way he lashes out after finding out about the relationship means that there is no guilt, no moral ambiguity. John was the good guy, that’s all we need to know. I feel if she’s going to win the Booker prize she needs to bring a bit more grit.
So, taking everything into consideration it get four stars out of five from me.
Hopefully, I will have the latest part of Squalor out by the end of the weekend.
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