Saturday, August 8, 2015
Book Review: Love... Under Different Skies
This novel is told through two viewpoint characters. Jamie Newman is an ad writer who keeps a blog as a way to get his feelings out there and vent about the slights he feels he must endure just to help his family have a good life in a big English city that might be London but which is unnamed. Jamie's blog entries are the ones that elicit the most intense laughter because as his wife will at different points claim in her part of this story, he really does act like a child. He exaggerates in outrageous fashions in nearly every entry he makes.
Laura Newman was once a chocolatier but something happened to her business that has resulted in her only be part-time employed in a chocolate store in a shopping Centre. She hates her job but she loves chocolate and since the income is needed, she continues in this management role. Her view of the events in this novel are in the form of letters to her deceased mother that she keeps in a growing volume of paper diaries. Her entries can be funny but they tend to be less intense in terms of humor.
After Jamie loses his temper and his job, the couple move with their three year old daughter, Poppy, to Australia where a relatively new chocolate company is looking for knowledgeable management. This opens the small family up to all sorts of adventures but the chocolate business is always right there playing a key part in their lives. I just wish we got to see more of what exactly it was and is that Laura does with chocolate.
The humor and plot revolve around a few topics. First there is the real challenge of families when one of two breadwinners cannot no longer fulfil that role. This is connected to issue two, gender roles and how much our value of self and partner is impacted by traditional roles. Jamie feels emasculated by losing his full-time job and discovers that it is not easy to find work in Australia. While Laura is understanding with each passing month that has only her job to pay their way, she starts to get concerned that her husband isn't looking as hard as he might as well as jealous of the time he spends with their daughter. These are issues that many families are struggling with in western cultures today so many readers will be able to relate.
There is also repeated potty humor that really surprised me even though I know this is not uncommon in British humor. Luckily none of this connected to chocolate or the chocolate business because that would be beyond acceptable here on The Chocolate Cult. Frankly I think most of the scatological mishaps could be taken out and not affected the story.
Finally there is the comparison between British and Australian life that provides many humorous situations for both Laura and Jamie. I can't honestly judge how well author Nick Spalding did on capturing these cultural differences because I am not an expert on either Australian or British society. They felt plausible and highly amusing to me when they happened.
I don't want to give away the story but here is a bit of romance though it is non-traditional. No bodice ripper here, folks, no alpha male to be shown his emotions by the woman who wants to save him. But there is love and sexual threat that Laura and Jamie must deal with beginning in the second half of the book.
Let's face it. Sometimes romance is a bit too serious and you just have to laugh or you might cry. Nick Spalding has proved you with a lot of laughter and a fair amount of truth about marriage, parenthood, and gender roles all tempered by the chocolate biz. Check it out and if you buy it using our links, you'll be helping us bring you more information about everything chocolate.