Unrequited Alice – Sarah Louise Smith
“I stared at my suitcase, contemplating the following three facts:
1) After months of planning, it was finally time for Hannah’s hen weekend.
2) In just one more month, she’d be getting married to Ed.
3) I really had to fall out of love with Ed before the wedding.”
A bridesmaid really shouldn’t be in love with the groom…but Alice just can’t help herself. Ed is her perfect man, and she can’t get him out of her head. Until she meets Toby – who offers to help her move on. But what if he’s just setting her up for an even bigger fall?
Alice is Hannah’s oldest friend, but not now, we learn, her best friend. Hannah is about to get married to Ed, and Alice is her chief bridesmaid. Alice is in a state of anxiety because she is in love with the groom. She organises a trip to Niagra Falls for Hannah’s ‘hen-weekend’ and here Alice meets Toby. There’s a spark… and a double fly in the ointment. Like Alice, he’s suffering – Toby is in love with his brother’s bride-to-be. The two keep in touch despite Toby being in New York and Alice in England, and decide to support each other. Toby comes to England and is Alice’s ‘plus one’ for Hannah’s wedding, and that’s when the proverbial hits the fan. The whole situation becomes all kinds of screwed up. (To find out this tale’s twisted and well-turned ending, you’ll have to read the book. I don’t do spoilers.)
The unrequited love of both Alice and Toby was laboured and tortuous. There was little need for it to be regurgitated over and over again. To be honest, there were many pages that I skimmed and skipped because they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about each character’s angst over their dilemma, and they added nothing to the story or the characters. All it did was tell me yet again that Alice or Toby or both were in the depressing pit of unrequited love. If those pages had been cut, there could have had a bit more about Alice in New York, and how she moved forward with her life there, or more about her and Toby.
I liked Alice and Toby, even if I wanted to give them a good shake now and then, and I was engaged enough to keep turning the pages. Overall, they came across as real. They are flawed, they suffer, they behave like idiots, and they say things that they don’t intend to. I liked Alice’s moral integrity, and I enjoyed the burgeoning relationship between her and Toby, a relationship based not only on a strong mutual attraction, but also on friendship and a true understanding of the other others weaknesses. They don’t use each other, either for sex or to make themselves feel better at the expense of the other. When Alice feels that perhaps things are heading this way, she calls a halt. Although readers could argue that they ‘use’ each other as a foil for the unrequited-love-wedding-dilemmas, its acknowledged and agreed upon, and is more of a supportive role than anything else.
Definitely worth reading but be prepared to skip pages.