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3.9 out of 5 stars
14
3.9 out of 5 stars
Love Lives
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on 23 October 2017
I first read Love Lies many years ago and thought I'd re-visit it to see if it was as good as I remembered, and without any shadow of doubt it most certainly is. What a wonderful story line, with such real, believable characters. The ending is just superb. Josie and Emlyn’s work, solo and together, is just always so consistently brilliant.
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on 2 February 2003
One Word-Brillant!Being a massive fan of their last three books, i just had to get this and i wasn't disappointed.Although the style of writing has changed, the story still follows the structure of their other books in continually switching the focus of the story between the charecters.The charecters are as varied as in their previous stories and the developing relationships are heart warming and very humerous to read.
If you liked their previous efforts,then you will love this!
Can't wait to see what they come up with next!
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on 27 February 2003
Warning: This is not a comedy (as you might expect about a book that is centred around a suicide spot). The easy balance between Chick Lit and Lad Lit, that had been struck in the earlier books has been abandoned. This deals with relationships in a much more worthy and unsuccessful way.
The first thing you will notice about the authors' fourth (joint) book is that it is written in the third person. This means a loss of what had been the writers' strongest feature, the way you could completely identify with the characters. There's no Jack, H, Amy, or Matt (etc) persona to slip into. You end up not feeling so close to events, and this distances you from the protagonists. It doesn't help that, of the four characters, only two (Jimmy and Ellen) are properly filled out: You never get to identify with Ned, and Verity is no more than a shadow.
You are left with a feeling that the authors have decided to change tack since the success of "The Boy Next Door" and go for a more earnest, serious way of writing. This sacrifices the humour of the first two books (the brilliant "Come Together" and even better "Come Again") and you end up with a book that seems rather po-faced. You want the characters to crack the odd smile, but they are too busy being traumatised to engage you.
This is a pity. Lloyd and Rees are obviously talented writers, and it would be unfair to expect them to churn out clones of the "Come..." books, but I would like to see them lighten up a bit! Their third book had less humour, and has things in common with the new novel. Like "The Boy Next Door" it has a car-related death, and there is a convenient, straight-forward break up of one relationship to allow the start of another one, between two of the main characters. (Again, the minor character from the old relationship remains resolutely under-written, so guilt doesn't have to intrude on your happy ending.) There is too much sniping and arguing, not enough banter.
This is one of those three-and-a-half star books. Lloyd and Rees are extremely talented, and this book, although it seems to have been written in their sleep, is still better than most of the dross on the shelves. It's just that they've done so much better in the past. As a huge fan, I will wait for the next one hoping they hit their form again.
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on 16 January 2015
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Or is it the other way around? I can never remember. The point is that we’ve been told so many times of late that men and women can’t ever hope to understand one another because we’re so different.

That’s long seemed the case in literature as well. The images of men presented in chick lit have never seemed quite rounded enough to me. Bridget Jones’ men were either perfect or complete bastards. Or your father. Serena Mackesy’s men were all fantasy men. That’s as in “objects of fantasy”, rather than men from a fantasy novel, although if you want both, Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn did quite well. But it’s not just one-way traffic. Neither Nick Hornby nor Tony Parsons have shown that they completely understand women, either.

So it was a breath of fresh air when Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees, a real life couple, worked together on “Come Together”. The leading male character’s thoughts were written by a man, and the leading lady’s by a woman. It seemed to work pretty well, as far as I could tell; only knowing the one viewpoint. Certainly, everyone seemed to be perfectly rounded, with their differing perspectives and their full participation in events as a whole.

Unfortunately, they then got a little overambitious with their next effort, “Come Again”, which smacked slightly of cashing in and fell some way short of the originality and genius of “Come Together”. “The Boy Next Door”, their third collaboration was a little better, but seemed a little weak compared to “Come Again”. Undeterred, they have tried once more, with “Love Lives” being their fourth effort.

Ellen has moved to Shoresby, somewhere on the South Coast of England, temporarily to film a documentary on one of the local landmarks, Lost Soul’s Point, where a number of suicides have been known to take place over the years, dating back to 1871. In doing so, she is parted from her boyfriend who is off filming in a far more exotic location in South America, and that parting is nothing new. She’s convinced she loves him, until she gets to Shoresby and runs into Ned, who is a builder working on restoring the old house which forms the backdrop to the area’s history that Ellen is keen to film. Their first meetings are not cordial, after Ned’s dog rips Ellen’s fur coat. They’re drawn to each other, but each is trying not to be for reasons of their own; Ellen because of her present, Ned because of his past.

But it’s not just the out of towners that are having trouble in their love lives either. Jimmy, a friend of the last person to commit suicide from Lost Soul’s point only a year before, is madly in love with Verity. Or, at least, he thinks he is. Not having been in love before, he’s not entirely sure if he is this time either. For her part, Verity is desperate to find someone – anyone – to be in love with, seeing as her best friend seems to have found her ideal man. Leaving Jimmy’s feelings unrequited, though, she goes for an older man, Denny.

These four prove to be the main characters and it is their “Love Lives” who we are mostly following throughout the novel. There is a supporting cast, some who get more involved in the story and others who are merely bit part characters. It’s not all about romantic love, however, as running throughout the whole novel, almost as a counterpoint to love is death; that of Jimmy’s friend Ryan, of the family who originally owned the house at Lost Soul’s Point and relatives of both Jimmy and Ned, whose deaths have a huge impact on both their lives in different ways.

The problem I have with this novel is really one I have with most stories of this genre – it’s a little too perfect to feel real. Of course, in a lot of fiction you need to be able to put your disbelief to one side and just enjoy the story. But whilst that’s easy with horror and thriller novels, where the situations are unlikely to occur, so you feel less for the characters as they don’t seem real either, here it isn’t as easy. Rees and Lloyd’s great talent is also their downfall – they create characters that seem so real they could almost be someone you know, or someone you used to be. But in tying up the situations a little too perfectly and a little too neatly, they make the whole thing seem a lot less real.

There is something not quite right about the way some of the characters behave as well. It’s as if, in much the same way that authors are unsure how to write about the opposite sex, that Lloyd and Rees have forgotten how it felt to be a teenager. Or maybe it’s me that’s forgotten. But for a teenager to be in love, rather than in lust, just doesn’t quite ring true for me, even for someone as sensitive as Jimmy seems to be. Verity’s confusion seems a little more real for a teenage girl but it is her boyfriend, Denny, who seems to be the most accurately drawn character. Whilst the adults are better drawn out characters, it is the minor characters whose actions in “love” seem more natural, rather than the major characters.

On the good side, Lloyd and Rees’ collaborations have come on a long way since their original novel. This is the first time they’ve written the whole thing as a novel, rather than splitting the different characters view into separate chapters or sections. It means the whole novel flows a little better and you get the story in a more chronological order, rather than having the same events described twice, just from different points of view. It has also allowed for more scene setting with outside characters being described more as real people, rather than just being “my friend” and/or “his/her friend”. The whole town is nicely described and whilst you don’t really get much of a map in your head, you can almost build a picture of the features – in my head it looks like a town I visited on the North Cornwall coast a couple of years ago, but everyone will have their own visualisation.

It’s a decent story, all told. The situation that brings all the characters together doesn’t seem too implausible and their reactions to things seem fairly real for most of the time. It’s only when the characters are becoming emotionally tangled that things start seeming a little too perfect and maybe a little too saccharine for real life. In their earlier novels, there was a touch of reality to the relationships in that not everything went perfectly, and that seems to be missing here. Maybe I’m just an old cynic and I’ve forgotten how it feels to be young and in love, but I just can’t quite believe in the whole thing. I can enjoy this kind of novel most of the time, but there’s something that just doesn’t sit right here, which takes the edge off this time around.

If you’re a fan of the “chick-lit” style genre in particular, this isn’t a bad example of the work by any means. Maybe a little sappy, and definitely a little predictable and unrealistic, but that’s fairly standard really. If you’re already a fan of Rees and Lloyd in particular, this is a good buy to see how their work together is evolving. If you’re new to their work, “Come Again” might be a better place to start as it’s the better story, although “Love Lives” is easier to read.

This review may also appear under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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on 9 July 2003
Loved it, loved it, loved it! This is a wonderful, moving story from start to finish. I really enjoyed their other books, but I think they've really hit their stride in this one. It's not a comedy like Come Together and Come Again, but it's so full of heart that it doesn't matter. Lots of suspense as well to keep you guessing what's goign to happen next. I read Love Lives on a beach on France over two days and spent the rest of my hoiday kicking myself for having read it so quickly! If the authors read this - PLEASE can we have a sequel!
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on 6 September 2003
This is by far the best book by them that I have read. The story and characters are so believable and you get so involved with them. I read this from start to finish in 2 days, I couldn't put it down. The way that the scenes are set and the descriptions of the buildings conjur up a seaside town that has seen better days. Somewhere you used to go as a child but now the playstation generation kids are not interested and has fallen in to disrepair and neglect. The way that the visiting filmmakers fall in love with the place and people that live their envoke memories of places you go to on holiday that you never want to leave because you have totally immersed yourself in to daily life. Go and buy it now and save it for a rainy weekend or a relaxing holiday. You will not regret it!
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on 24 January 2007
I cried buckets throughout most of this story - and really resented having to put it down to work, hoover, sleep, even eat! With great twists and turns, fantastic characters and a really unusual plotline, Love Lives is a great example of the genius of the Lloyd/Rees writing partnership. Set in and around Shoresby, a south coast seaside resort, Love Lives tells the stories of Lost Soul's Point from the perspective of four main characters, Ned - an architect with a heartbreaking past, Ellen - a deeply unhappy film maker, Jimmy - a troubled teenager and Verity - a hopeless romantic. Buy a bumper pack of tissues, turn off the phone and settle in with the curtains drawn.
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on 11 August 2005
I thought this book was fantastic, the twists in the story really intrigued me and i couldnt put it down! I love the way these authors write each paragraph from a different persons perspective its great to see other people's thoughhts and points of view! EXCELLENT READ
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on 10 August 2004
The way these authors deal with the different charachters and stories is absolutely fantastic. From the teenage romance to a more adult and complicated love, the whole of the book takes you in completally.
Difficult to put down and easy to pick again and again for a re-read.
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on 5 February 2007
I've previously enjoyed Come Together and Come Again, so I was looking forward to Love Lives.

Unfortunately I was left feeling disappointed by a weak plot that frankly bored me. It's just a bit obvious and cliched. Maybe if I was 15 I would've enjoyed it more.
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