Learn Love In A Week comes with an interesting and less clichéd premise than a lot of chick-lit books: the main couple have already been together for ten years and their love needs to be kept alive in a world of scheduling, childcare and grumpiness. Those are three words that are used a lot throughout the book.
The plot revolves around Polly and Arthur who are at breaking point with each other whilst juggling their relationships with their parents and children and also their respective best friends Em and Malcolm. Polly and Arthur both offer their streams of consciousness and thus a look into their thoughts and motivations as does Em, providing a perspective outside the couple as well as making her romantic side plot an interesting addition.
I enjoyed some of the wise words the book had about love, found not only in the Learn Love In A Week course at the beginning of each day but also Arthur’s unusually deep conversations with anyone who prompted him to talk about love. Some of the time the connection between the course and the revelations the characters have that day seem a bit too forced but of course this is a standard storytelling device really and it does make more sense when you find out a big revelation at the end.
My biggest problem with this book is that at no point whatsoever did I really root for Polly (or Em very much really). I only wished for their marriage to work out because I found Arthur to be very likeable and emphatic so I wanted him to have a happy ending and he genuinely seemed to love Polly, but Polly and Em were both very self-centred and the former in particular never seemed to see anyone else’s point of view until it was far too late. The only reason I could forgive her at all was because she was understandably stressed and a busy working mum.
Although this was annoying when there was too much Polly in one go or during any argument with Arthur (because I just couldn’t imagine talking to anyone so unreasonable), Malcolm and Arthur could easily make me smile, as could the three children, and this was all plenty to keep me sucked in. The ending was also very clever, with two events happening to add a lot of dramatic tension.
The writing was accessible and believable to read, probably due to Andrew Clover’s personal experiences as a Writer/Actor/Dad or WAD- it’s always good to see an author bring real life to the page. Overall, Learn Love In A Week was an enjoyable chick-lit book to read and certainly a good debut fiction novel. I’d give it 7/10.