Aphrodite’s Workshop for Reluctant Lovers by Marika Cobbold

It’s lovely to be given a book unexpectedly, but it’s worrying too. You know someone has taken some trouble to select something, but it is so easy to get it wrong, and then what do you say.

It took my fiance a while to learn what I liked – he presented me with some horrors before he got a handle on my taste!

But this book came from Alice at Bloomsbury as a Valentine’s gift. I trust her taste, and the book came accompanied by some lovely chocolate which created any amount of goodwill.

When I saw the prologue though I was a little worried. God on Mount Olympus overseeing the affairs of men. Was it cliché time?

“Life was getting tough for mother, otherwise known as Aphrodite, goddess of love. It was commonly thought that she was failing in her work and that love was being brought into disrepute. The inhabitants of Great Britain were of particular concern. The statistics were appalling, with one in three marriages ending in divorce and a growing number of children being brought up in single-parent families. so mother was freaking, blaming me, Eros, who quite frankly had enough to deal with, being just a kid and going through a difficult phase, not just because of the confusion over who my father was but also because of the rumours going around that I didn’t actually exist, being a phenomenon, an idea, not a person at all.”

No actually, it wasn’t. The treatment felt fresh, with Aphrodite and son Eros caught up in the machinations of a family business dropping in and out of the story, observing and trying to steer events.

Rebecca Finch was the main cause of Aphrodite’s problems. A romantic novelist who is having doubts about love – and when I met her soon to be ex boyfriend I understood why. I liked Rebecca, but she had an unfortunate tendency to say a little too much, to be a little too honest. And that had some rather unfortunate consequences.

So Aphrodite had to put things to rights. And she steered Rebecca towards a man she had crossed paths with years before. John Sterling. He wasn’t an obvious romantic hero – a divorce lawyer, a divorced weekend father, a basically decent man who had made a few mistakes and probably needed a good friend to have a firm word and point him in the right direction. I did like him though.

Rebecca and John are both wonderfull believable, and their stories are told with warmth, wit and honesty. Along the way Marika Cobbold makes some wonderful observations about love, life and romantic fiction.

I have to say though that I could have done without Rebecca’s reappearing childhood imaginary friend. Gods plus a great supporting cast were more than enough to fill out the story. There was even a border terrier!

It was simple story, but well executed, and packed full of wonderful observations and striking moments.

Not a book I would have chosen, but a book I liked very much. And isn’t that a lovely thing to be able to say about a gift?

4 responses

  1. It is indeed a lovely thing to say about a gift and I wholeheartedly concur with this one; I received the same parcel from Alice and it was such a sweet gift – in more ways than just the chocolate! I finished the book today and really enjoyed it.

  2. Chocolate will make any book better 🙂 My husband was an atrocious gift giver for the first five years or so of our marriage. It took a lot of work on my part, but he’s quite good at it now 🙂

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