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3.4 out of 5 stars58
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
I don't read a lot of chick-lit but have enjoyed some of Parks' previous books - but this is not one of the better ones. What could have been an interesting story: the loved-up couple where he suddenly decides he wants a baby, and she doesn't, feels irritatingly contrived.

There are huge chunks of this book that are very messily told, with extended back stories and the introduction of other couples who seem to be little more than padding.

As other reviewers have said, Nat isn't even allowed to simply have no maternal urge - a subject only just being discussed openly by women - and instead has to have a deep, dark secret to explain her 'unnatural' feelings.

This has the opportunity to be taboo-breaking but just cops out - and is full of increasingly awkward contrivances to manipulate the plot.
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on 9 September 2011
So far....referring to her boyfriend as handsome, when he'd already been described as just above average. Calling pushchairs strollers..since when did we live in the USA? Describing her parents garden as 'a riot of colour' what? In the autumn? I always find this with A P. Sloppy continuity and sack the editor! She can tell a tale but needs to concentrate a bit harder on editing and characterisation. Spoils it for me from the start regardless of the plot. You do pick up a book like this for fluff tho one has to remember, so it won't be that well written. I tend to intersperse chick lit with proper books for some light relief.
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on 6 January 2011
Men I've Loved Before tells the story of Nat and Neil, a thirty something couple who seem to have the marriage from heaven. He has a job he adores, friends he gets on with and the perfect wife. She has a fulfilling career, a family who loves her and the perfect husband. They agree on virtually everything, especially the fact that they don't want children. Until Neil decides that he does. Suddenly they are both questioning every facet of their relationship, and Nat wonders whether any of the men she's loved before could have been the One?

I'm conflicted about Adele Parks. Universally I have loved the first hundred pages or so of every single novel she's written (this is the tenth). Parks establishes the set up of characters and relationships perfectly - she creates an entertaining picture of a couple meeting and falling in love. She writes beautifully about chaotic but perfect lives.

For me, where Parks unfailingly falls down is when she inserts the tension into a novel, and her couples start bickering. It all feels so artificial and forced. Here we have a woman who doesn't want to have a baby - but there is a big secret "reason" for this. I find it disappointing that Nat wasn't just against babies because she didn't want them - it is a valid choice these days, and not all women want babies.

I also thought Neil's storyline with the strippers was appalling, and done to fill up some space rather than to progress the plot in a meaningful way.

Lastly, for a couple who are presented as being so together and communicative and honest, why do they have so many problems talking to each other about their issues with the baby factor? *sighs* It was perplexing to me that they descended to arguments rather than just opening up. I found myself literally rolling my eyes in exasperation.

Parks also has an issue writing realistic male characters. One line stood out for me at an early stage of the novel:

"But somewhere, deep down inside him, he'd always found single-man sex unsettling. He found it a problem that even in the very moment of orgasm he'd start to panic about where his next shag would come from."

I put this line to various of my male friends and they LAUGHED at it, they were so unconvinced. That is not the response that Parks wished for, I'll wager! Karl is a stinker of a character - so vile that I shuddered whenever he was on the page. Nat's various exes universally had issues. Even Neil - supposedly the hero of the piece - ends up going to a strip club and staring rather too much at a stripper's nipples (yes, Parks did describe these nipples in sickening detail...)

I think I understand that Parks is trying to present a realistic look at life between a couple - where issues do crop up, and arguments do happen. But, seriously, I just ended up feeling depressed at their constant bickering and wishing I could shake the pair of them. I read chick lit for the escapism, not to feel sucked into the minutiae of painful discussions and problems that are seemingly unresolvable.

So, read the first one hundred pages for a great look at a fun couple. And then firmly close the book. Parks has written far better books.
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on 27 April 2013
I was largely optimistic about this book when I started, aware of the mixed reviews on here. However, I got half way through and felt like nothing was progressing. I wanted to get into it but it just wasn't a "page turner" for me. The plot seemed slow and sluggish and slightly as if I wanted to shout "we know that you don't want kids! Where is this going?!" But in the end I figured life was too short to keep reading a book I didn't enjoy, it's going to the charity shop in the hope that someone will enjoy it more than I did.

Sorry Adele if you are reading this. I really wanted to enjoy it, I really did.
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on 22 September 2010
I like Adele Parks books, but this is not one of her best. Its easy reading and passed the time, but there wasn't much weight to the subject and the book could have been about half the size! Lots of waffle that you didn't need to know and I skim read a lot of it. Hopefully her next book will be better. I am sure that if she wasn't already an established author then this would never have been published....
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on 17 October 2011
Need i say anymore?

I read a lot of chick lit and have read this author before - won't bother again. Long-winded, boring, dull, lazy writing, did i mention dull?, with a very predictable ending.

Could have crammed the story into about 3 chapters.

I'm even bored of my own review on it....Don't bother....
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on 5 August 2010
Though well written and promising to begin with I am now nearly at the end of this book and am finding it boring, predictable and disappointing. I feel that this book does little to promote the idea that a woman who does not want children is normal-instead it suggests that there has to be some sinister reason behind a woman holding that view.
I have reached the point where I don't really care about any of the characters and I feel so bored I am disinclined to read to the end-especially as I can see the ending a mile off.
I have given two stars as I found the beginning enjoyable and, though long-winded in parts, it is fairly well written. But I found the characters stereotypical and I think it is almost offensive at times in the way it depicts the differences between men and women.
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on 30 June 2011
As a childfree woman I was enjoying this book until it took a big turn down the road of predictability and stereotypes and instead of reading a modern novel I felt like i was reading some pre-womens movement propaganda.

So disappointing and a complete waste of what could have been an interesting exploration into a life that differs from the acceptable norm.
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on 24 June 2011
Having enjoyed Adele Parks' previous novels, I was hugely disappinted with this one. The plot was predictable and the characters such stereotypes. It all felt like very lazy writing. I've found some of her other heroines unlikeable, but still good reading, but Natalie was just unsympathetic and unpleasant. I wondered if it was me that's outgrown the genre, but then most of the characters are around my age and in theory facing the same kind of dilemmas.

I finished the book, but like the writing, rushed it, just to get it over with. Not sure I'll pick up her next book if this is what we can expect.
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on 8 February 2011
Having read most of this author's previous work i bought this book without a second thought. However i found this really dull to the point that i wasn't even excited when i got precious time to read! It felt rushed and was quite boring, to be honest i was still waiting for it to start properly when i discovered i was 60% through. I doubt i'll read another of her books, such a shame.
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