The Simple Rules of Love - Amanda Brookfield
Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
IT WASN’T until I was nearing the end of Amanda Brookfield’s The Simple Rules of Love that I discovered it’s actually the sequel to Relative Love – there’s nothing to suggest as much in the blurb – so I began reading with an open mind.
Set in the present day, The Simple Rules of Love charts a year in the lives of the Harrison family – literally so, progressing as it does from February through to the following January. And, as the saying goes, ‘what a difference a year makes’.
For the Harrisons, a large and close-knit family, the year begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding, while in between we see matriarch Pamela struggling to come to terms with widowhood; her son Charlie and his wife Serena as the new custodians of Ashley House, the family home; eldest son Peter behaving totally out of character and paying the price; and two daughters Elizabeth and Cassie headed in unexpected directions. And that’s without taking into account the numerous grandchildren!
The Simple Rules of Love is well written and Brookfield’s perception of family life and relationships is spot on. I’m sure everyone will recognize a family member in one or more of her carefully crafted characters.
And her handling of sensitive issues, such as adultery and unwanted teenage pregnancy, is commendable. I also like her rationale on being in love – “his brain had been infected by the virulent strain of infatuation to which the Greeks had given a name and about which poets liked to write.” In other words, “he had gone mad.”
However, eclampsia in pregnancy is an altogether different matter and I suspect it has been included solely for dramatic effect as, with proper ante-natal care, this potentially life-threatening condition should not arise. Whether Brookfield’s young ‘heroine’ availed herself of such is unclear so we can only surmise that she did not. In the event, an antepartum haemorrhage or cord prolapse would have done just as well, both presenting as unforeseen obstetric emergencies.
That said, The Simple Rules of Love is an absorbing read. With its intimate portrayal of other people’s lives, it has all the appeal of a popular soap. And it doesn’t tax the brain, so is suitable for holiday or bedtime. As such, it comes highly recommended.
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