01 April 2011

Love Walked In - Marisa de los Santos

There are many different reasons why we like a book. Sometimes, it's because the story is so gripping. Sometimes, it's because the author is our favorite and we just like his/her style, sometimes we love a book because one of the characters reminds us of someone we know (sometimes even ourselves), or we love a book because we wish we had that sort of romance/thrill/happy ending in our lives. But sometimes...sometimes... we love a book because it is pure poetry. As cliche as that sounds, I am saying it from the depth of my book-loving soul!
It is not so much as the story itself, or the plot that carries the beauty. Instead, the beauty lies in the place that it should - the words, the diction, the thoughts, the expression, and the heart of the writer. I experienced this poetry in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. Pure poetry! I also remember feeling the same sense of upliftment, of being taken to a different plane when I read Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie". And now, I felt the same beauty flowering inside of me when I read Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. 
The way the book starts - the very first line that the author decided to write on the very first empty page - is itself breathtaking: "My life - my real life - started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds."
And YES, I know how this sounds! You're going to say, "Pfft! there she goes again! Raving about some soppy romance novel!" But my dear friend, that's where you are terrible mistaken. This is not a soppy romance. Yes it is a romance, but there is a beauty in there that appeals to every woman. The beauty of love and motherhood, and the pain of having a beloved child plucked out of your hands and handed over to someone else, the reassuring warmth of family, and the wonder of life itself.

The plot is actually quite simple. Cornelia Brown (a most unlikely pairing of first and last name, if there ever was one), the manager of Cafe Dora, a little warm coffee house in Philadelphia, has a good, strong college education but prefers to work in a restaurant. She is a die-hard romantic and believes that every girl's life should be like The Philadelphia Story, where she finds the right dashing, tall-dark-handsome, smooth and suave man for a soul mate! And she truly believes it will happen to her!! (Yes, double exclamation marks right there, because, seriously, who is she kidding?! That stuff doesn't happen in real life. In fact, it doesn't even happen in reel life nowadays - anybody watch Knocked Up??)

But find him she does, and his name is Martin. She is head over heels in love with this man who can do no wrong, who will listen calmly to her without saying a word, and who will take her on the most starlit romantic dates. Suddenly, one day, Cornelia's world is turned upside down when a little 11 year old girl walks into the coffee house with Martin, and he introduces her as Clare, his daughter....

The book consists of two stories told alternately, from the point of view of the central characters  - Clare and Cornelia. Finally, their lives dovetail, Clare finds the family she longs for, and Cornelia finds the love of her life. As usual, I am not going to give you anything more on the plot. It is actually quite simple, and comes to the most logical conclusions.

However, there is a huge advantage in the plot being so forehead-slapping simple. Instead of filling the book with twisted plots, the author uses her space to flesh out the characters, to create a clear picture of each scene, each interaction, each incident, and each reaction of each character. She does this so well that at we easily begin to think like the characters in any given situation in the plot! It's like listening to your best friend talk about her life - you listen with involvement, have an opinion about everything, advice your friend on the next move, and are dying to know what happened next.

Read this book to see how a modern novel should be written. Hope love walks in for you too....sigh! That is so soppy and cliche but what the heck...

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