Love and Other Puzzles, Kimberley Allsopp’s entertaining debut novel is a cocktail of wit and nostalgic pop-culture minus the hangover. Read my full review.
Love and Other Puzzles Synopsis
Following the clues doesn’t always lead you where you might expect… but stepping out of our comfort zones can sometimes be the best – and worst – thing that can ever happen to us.
Rory’s life is perfectly predictable, ordered and on track – just the way she likes it. She walks her 12,000 steps a day, writes her to-do list and each night she prepares her breakfast chia pods and lays out her clothes for the next day. She’s doing everything right. So why does everything feel so wrong?
Deep down, she knows her life and career – not to mention her relationship – are going nowhere, and so Rory, in a moment of desperation, takes an uncharacteristic step: letting the clues of The New York Times crossword puzzle dictate all her decisions for a week. Just for a week, she reasons. Just to shake things up a bit. What’s the worst that could happen?
A delightfully witty, deliciously original and astringently refreshing rom-com that reads like you’re inhaling a zingy citrus cocktail made by Nora Ephron, at a party thrown by Dolly Alderton and Beth O’Leary.
(Harper Collins Australia, February 2022)
Genre: Romance, Drama, Humour
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First things first…. this debut novel must be adapted for cinematic or television release. I need to watch the fabulous banter and visual comedy in Kimberley Allsopp’s Love and Other Puzzles performed on screen.
Sure, some of Rory’s responses to problems verge on the ridiculous – when she steps in a pothole she tends to opt for the spade rather than the ladder – but her foibles just make her so damn endearing. And the hopes of the wonderfully warm-hearted and eclectic bunch of characters that support her quickly rubbed off on this reader.
Love and Other Puzzles is bubbling over (like a popped champagne bottle, not boiling milk) with nostalgic pop-culture references. Classic literature, music, TV and movie (particularly romantic comedy) references are so cleverly, and frequently, woven into this novel’s fabric that even the most observant reader will find themselves thinking, ‘Wait a moment, was that just a reference to …?’
Allsopp has a real knack for writing snappy and amusing character dialogue (inner and outer). I found it intellectual without being pretentious, sassy rather than sarcastic… even the dour moments in Love and Other Puzzles are not depressing. And, she’s made it look effortless. It was Gilmore Girls-esque, but lite on the mental aerobics… for me anyway. Funny that Rory is the name of the rules-oriented lead character, hey…
This novel may not suit everyone’s tastes though. Love and Other Puzzles is a ‘Must Love Banter’ kind of narrative propelled by coincidences… lots of them. But really, would it be the playful homage to rom-coms that it is without them? I think not.
With her wisely witty debut novel Love and Other Puzzles, Kimberley Allsopp has brought nostalgic fun and feelings back to the modern rom-com.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5 ; Overall 4.5 / 5
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More Love and Other Puzzles reviews
‘This is a very cleverly written and entertaining debut by Allsopp. The characters are all likeable and engaging and Rory in particular is disarmingly honest. ’ – Debbish.com
‘Love and Other Puzzles is a captivating uplifting read, sure to satisfy any hopeless romantic.’ – Book’d Out
‘Her (Kimberley Allsopp) writing is inspiring and full of depth, while still being light enough to feel like you have escaped for a little while.’ – Rekha O, NetGalley Reviewer
About the Author, Kimberley Allsopp
Kimberley Allsopp has had her work appear in Kidspot, The Sunday Telegraph and WHIMN (now Body & Soul) and she co-hosts the rom-com podcast, Meet Cute, which allows her to justify some of her otherwise questionable life choices. Kimberley has worked in bookselling and publishing since 2008. Love & Other Puzzles is her first book. She lives in Sydney with her partner and daughter.
This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2022.
* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.