Wednesday 31 August 2016

Everything Love Is - Claire King

From the author of The Night Rainbow: a poignant, mysterious and unforgettable story of love, and of the happy endings we conceive for ourselves

What I want is something that makes me feel alive. Joy, passion, despair, something to remember or something to regret. I want to have my breath taken away. 

Baptiste Molino has devoted his life to other people's happiness. Moored on his houseboat on the edge of Toulouse, he helps his clients navigate the waters of contentment, yet remains careful never to make waves of his own.

Baptiste is more concerned with his past than his future: particularly the mysterious circumstances of his birth and the identity of his birth mother. But Sophie, the young waitress in his local bar, believes it is time for Baptiste to rediscover passion and leads him into the world on his doorstep he has long tried to avoid. 

However, it is Baptiste's new client who may end up being the one to change his perspective. Elegant and enigmatic, Amandine Rousseau is fast becoming a puzzle he longs to solve. As tensions rise on the streets of the city, Baptiste's determination to avoid both the highs and lows of love begins to waver. And when his mother's legacy finally reveals itself, he finds himself torn between pursuing his own happiness and safeguarding that of the one he loves.

What did I think?

Everything Love Is has to be the most hauntingly beautiful, thought provoking and poignant story I have read this year; it well and truly captured my heart.  I admit that I didn't think I was going to enjoy it at first as I didn't really know what was going on, or indeed from whose point of view I was reading, but then as if the sun appeared from behind a cloud it all became clear.  The confusion is part of the point of the story, you see, as you really do get to step into the shoes of a person with dementia and it quite honestly almost broke my heart.

Baptiste is an orphan after an unconventional entrance into the world.  He was born on a train to a woman in a green coat carrying a violin case.  Unfortunately his mother died during childbirth and he was brought up by the off-duty midwife who delivered him on the train.  Baptiste knows nothing of his ancestors so it is no surprise that he is happy with his own company and lives on a houseboat, named Candice, in Toulouse.  He makes friends with Sophie, a girl working in his local bar who draws birds on her patrons' napkins. Sophie draws a kingfisher for Baptiste, a bird that looks below the surface of the water rather than its own reflection, a skill that Baptiste has as part of his job as a therapist.

Amandine comes to Baptiste's houseboat for therapy, although quite who is the patient and who is the doctor is a bit muddied as Amandine questions Baptiste about his past.  Baptiste falls in love with Amandine but she is his patient so he struggles with his feelings. Throughout the book Baptiste refers, with great affection, to someone with the pet name 'Chouette'; continuing the bird theme, chouette is translated as owl.  Could this be Amandine?

Everything Love Is is most definitely a book to be read twice.  The first read is filled with questions that all become clear on the way through whereas the second read makes it even more poignant as our eyes are wide open from the start.  It is an absolute masterpiece filled with colourful and poetic prose.  Claire King has given us a heart-breaking and poignant insight into a devastating condition - a condition where we lose our loved ones even though they can be standing right in front of us.  A stunning book, both inside and out.

I received this book from the publisher, Bloomsbury, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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