Tuesday, 7 January 2014 | MYT 12:00 AM

How To Fall In Love

  • Author : Cecilia Ahern
  • Genre : fiction
  • Publisher : HarperCollins


Damsel in major distress

IF YOU follow closely the works of an author, you tend to more or less know the values or principles they weave into their works. With Cecilia Ahern, it’s usually love. Her 10th novel since her big debut with PS I Love You, How To Fall In Love screams a miraculous journey of self-discovery to find The One. Hey, what else would you expect from Ms Ahern?

So I sat by the window, hot chocolate ready at hand, my dog curled up at my feet, and buried my nose in the book. In comes Christine Rose, standing in an abandoned housing development in Dublin, trying to persuade a Simon Conway to not blow his brains out – what a way to start a novel! The Simon Conway Experience, as Christine calls it, leaves quite a mark on our heroine. She goes home, showers, flips through her self-help book, makes breakfast for her husband, and then calmly tells him their marriage isn’t working and walks out.

Finding herself financially unstable and not receiving much support from friends and family, Christine ponders downsizing her already tiny recruitment firm. That is, until an employee stumbles upon her flipping through a Six Tips On How To Fire An Employee (With Pictures) book. And just like that, support from her colleagues, too, goes up in a puff of smoke.

If that’s not enough, Christine then finds herself witnessing a second suicide attempt in the very same month. She leaps into action and manages to convince this man to give life another chance, but not before striking a deal with him: to show him his life is worth living in just two weeks.

Wait, what? Two weeks? Yes, and yes. I did judge our little heroine then, now turned damsel in a highly, highly distressed situation: She’s just taken the life of a stranger into her hands. Quite a sticky patch she’s in!

And so, she cancels all her appointments and makes it her life’s mission to save this handsome, rich, blonde stranger who goes by the name of Adam. She maps out every inch of his self-discovery route, determined to get his life back on track.

Quite frankly, I’ve never been a fan of self-help books. I bought one way back, and God only knows in which dark corner it’s gathering dust. Yet, the way Christine Rose worships and glorifies them injects the read with humour and wit. What’s more, the title of each chapter begins with a “How To” phrase. I find them simply delightful! It gives you an insight into each chapter before you plunge into it, yet if you were to dwell on the titles a little longer, you’d start connecting the dots between the titles and how they relate to your life.

It does make me wonder if that was Ahern’s goal after all. My favourite chapter is “How To Dig A Hole To The Other Side Of The World.” Would save hundreds on airfare, don’t you think? That being said, How To Fall In Love as a whole can’t be said to leave a lasting impression. Sure, it has all the right elements in place – charming moments, witty moments, and moments that tug at the very seams of your heart. But the core thing that seems to be missing is believability. So, Christine is traumatised by suicide attempts of strangers, is going through a divorce, has major financial setbacks, receives minimal support from loved ones ... yet, despite all that, she commits herself to helping a stranger sort out his very complicated life or else he’ll try to jump off a bridge. Again.

Looks to me like she’s bitten off more than she can chew, so do pardon me for not rooting for the damsel all the way. But then again, this is purely a Cecilia Ahern masterpiece, aimed at inspiring hope, joy, love and the belief in miracles. I dare say she’s achieved that, at the very least.


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