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Love Is A Four Letter Word Paperback – 1 Jan 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; Reprint edition (1 Jan. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006391877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772303
  • ASIN: 0552998532
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 2.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,088,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Nobody could fail to be won over by the self-deprecating charm of Claire Calman's introduction to her first novel: "despite popular demand that she should go back to magazines, she is now working on another book". Actually, that's good news for readers--those who pick up this sharp and witty meditation on sex and the other element that occasionally goes with it, Love is a Four Letter Word, will definitely be looking out for the second novel.

Calman's heroine Bella is trying to remember what sex is like. Wasn't it something that happened somewhere between the talking-and-going-out-to-dinner bit and the sobbing-and-eating-too-many-biscuits bit? But she is determined to fall off her sexual wagon before she becomes a virgin again ("all sealed over like pierced ears if you don't wear earrings for too long"). But there's one thing Bella is not prepared to hear again: the "L" word. Her body might be making hormonal demands, but she's resolute in not wanting the emotional baggage of love again. Nobody will be surprised, of course, to learn that she's back up to her neck in romantic trouble again--and why is it she always ends up with the wrong kind of man? Like all the best comic novelists, Calman crams her perky narrative with a host of highly diverting characters to surround her beleaguered heroine. The plotting, too, betrays no sign of first-novel inexperience: the situations that contrive to sink Bella deeper in the mire are all as imaginative as they are funny. And Calman's narrative voice always sounds just the right note, as when Bella is ironically considering becoming a nun:

Mother, I'm joining a convent. You'll never seen me again. Who knows, in her austere cell she might even take up painting again. Alone, the patterns of her thoughts would be clear and vibrant, shocking the virgin paper with their boldness, her brush caressing and seductive. She snorted at herself: Saint Bella of the Divine Brushstrokes.
--Barry Forshaw

Review

"'Simply wonderful! I was totally enchanted'" (Fiona Walker)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't know when I've last enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed LOVE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD. I couldn't put it down from the moment I started it. It literally does make you laugh and cry at the same time. Bella, the heroine, is such a great character, impossible not to like. At first you think it's yet another 'Oooh, my relationship went wrong' novel, but it's SO MUCH MORE than that. I really urge you all, if youj're thinking about buying this book, stop thinking. Buy it! You won't regret it, and you'll read it again and again. More from Claire Calman please!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 May 2000
Format: Paperback
Don't be put off if you think the cover looks like yet another girly beach read. This is in a class of its own. I read it only to get my friend who was going on and on about it to shut up. It is funny, but not in the punning, brittle way that you find in too much modern fiction now. You soon find yourself drawn into the heart of the book and caring deeply about the very real characters. I especially like the tense relationship between the heroine and her mother, which is subtly done. I can't believe the person on this reviews section who didn't finish it - how can you review something if you haven't even read it? Try it, even my boyfriend loved it, though he didn't want to be seen reading anything with 'Love' in the title in public!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
As someone else has written in the reviews, do not judge this book on its cover. It is not your usual girlie comedy type book. Although it does have some elements (the friend, the adventures of colleagues etc..) it runs deeper than this,as it considers and explores the feeling of grief and the effect it can have on one's life. The relationship between the heroin and her mother is also very well portrayed and again I was impressed by its depth and veracity.
This book however still manages to be light and enjoyable, when you put it down, you feel both relaxed and moved by the plot and the characters. It may be hard to explain but basically it is a very good combination of real, thus not always pleasant emotions, and bits of comedy.
Read it, it is very impressive. Shame about the misleading cover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate S-B on 23 April 2008
Format: Paperback
Quite a sweet book, romantic. But it did take a while to get going, I thought. The good thing is that with one central character, you could really get to know her, and what makes her who she is now. The flashbacks were an important part of the story I think, for character developing. Without these little insights, I doubt the book would have been so readable. Bella would have just been a 2 dimentional person, rather than a well rounded one.

I was suprised by what happened with Patrick, as you don't get to know the full story until about half way through the book. I like books that suprise me, so this was great. I didn't expect that at all.

And Will..... well I think I fell for him a bit myself!
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By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 April 2015
Format: Paperback
Claire Calman's first novel follows the fortunes of Bella, a young woman who wants to be an artist but is still trapped in an office job; who wants to love Will, the exciting new man in her life, but who is still haunted by the memory of her ex, Patrick; who wants to have a good relationship with her parents but is trapped in a bickering, sour relationship with her mother Alessandra. The novel opens as Bella is emerging from a long period of celibacy after the end of her affair with Patrick, and follows her over the course of several months as she attempts to make sense of her life and work out what she really wants.

Calman certainly can write, and there's enough plot ingredients here - career deliberations, family problems dating back to childhood, misadventures in love - to keep the plot going. There were scenes - Bella's realisation of her love of art, some of her later, fraught conversations with Will, her developing friendship with Will's mother - that I found very enjoyable and sometimes moving. But somehow, for some reason, the book didn't grab me. I didn't find Bella's scatty personality and rather rambling narrative all that appealing, and I found the plot (and Bella and Will's refusal just to sit down and sensibly talk through their issues) somewhat frustrating. In particular, I couldn't believe that Alessandra could be so calculatedly spiteful to her daughter, whatever she'd suffered - her appalling behaviour meant that what happened later on seemed very sentimental. OK, the twist about what had happened to Patrick was clever, but Bella's early behaviour didn't ring true once we'd learnt about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book. It's more about grieving and guilt than sex and chocolate biscuits. Claire Calman is a very self-assured young writer (either that or she's got an amazing editor) and, unlike some of these other 'modern romance' writers her humour tickles you gently rather than punching you between the eyes with big ugly one-liners. A very gentle, warm, funny and well-written book, almost in the tradition of Barbara Pym. Well done Claire and don't let those magazines get you back!
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