Sometimes Love Hurts is the latest novel by Marie Fostino, which she kindly gave to me in exchange for a review.
Now, I felt rather excited to start reading this book as I loved the last book of hers that I read, ‘The Silver Locket’. But, when I opened the first page of the ebook, I was a little disappointed. There were just some smalls things that got me (and I picked up on these throughout the novel) such as using the narrative mode incorrectly. The book is told from multiple perspectives, in first-person narratives. Yet there were parts where the character would speak in first-person, and say stuff that she couldn’t know unless she was looking at herself—which, I’m pretty sure, in that scene, she wasn’t. I mainly noticed this with the character of Crystal.
Okay, so I’m starting this review on a negative (which I feel a bit mean for doing) but it was one of the first things that I noticed. But I am glad that I did read on as there’s some beautiful stuff in there.
Essentially, this is a story about love. Fostino uses layering really well to combine several narrative layers into her book, each of which tell their own love story, whilst linking into the other stories. And it was this combining of narrative layers that really ‘did it’ for me. Because, it was cleverly tackled. And, believe me, it got complicated in places, but Fostino handled it expertly.
Mirroring is something that Fostino did really well in ‘Sometimes Love Hurts’. I absolutely loved how the love stories of the youngest and oldest generation mirrored each other, whilst the middle love story was slightly different.
However, I felt that it was more of a glimpse into several characters’ lives than a story. I mean that in the sense that, for me, there wasn’t an actual plot and almost no character development was apparent. There wasn’t a climactic build-up of events, and there was a lot more telling going on than showing, (but then a large proportion of the novel is told through journal entries). It was probably for this reason that I didn’t really feel that engaged with the characters, or feel much tension at all. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I like a lot of action…
Also, because of the epistolary style that Fostino employed, I didn’t really get to know many of the characters that well. Many of them felt one-dimensional, like they only had one purpose, and that was to tell their story. However, I did like Michael’s character a lot as he was flawed. He seemed realistic and believable. The female characters, on the other hand, seemed to be portrayed as ‘perfect’, and I did find that they all felt like the same character. There wasn’t really any defining personality traits that any of the females had that made them stand out.
Now onto some more technical stuff to do with the craft of Fostino’s writing; there were a lot of awkward sentence compositions and a LOT of back-story dumped in at the beginning—most of which I actually worked out from what Crystal was thinking beforehand. There was incorrect apostrophe usage too—something that really annoys me. The description, in a lot of places, was heavy, and felt almost ‘bulky’ to me. There were lots of typos, too, and I did spot one place where the wrong tense had been used.
Now, I’m aware that I’m probably not doing this book justice. After all, there was some really powerful stuff in there, because Fostino is an expert at employing evocative language effectively. However, there wasn’t enough of this, for me, and I felt the whole book was lacking a lot of action, and, well, a ‘plot’… Well, actually, there was a sort of plot to the journal entries, and that was one of the things that made me want to read on. As Lisa found out about her parents’ lives and the events that happened, I kind of wanted to carry on reading the journal—it annoyed me when Lisa stopped reading just as an exciting bit was happening, where there actually was a little bit of tension. But, I did really like how the journal was used. It added an epistolary style to the book without the novel becoming ‘letter heavy’.
One of the strongest points of this novel was actually the title, (to me anyway). I thought that the title perfectly reflected the contents of the book, and every single reader would likely be able to relate to that title. So, good job! (I absolutely love meaningful titles!).
Ultimately, Fostino delivers a love story through her strong grip on evocative language to create a poignant tone, whilst cleverly employing several layers into her narrative. However, the plot was substantially lacking and the characters (apart from one) seemed too perfect to be realistic.
Madeline’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars
You can buy ‘Sometimes Love Hurts’ here.