Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: 'All You Need is Love' by Julie Hodgson

Swedish author Julie Hodgson has experienced more than most authors in travel, jobs, and fascination with her elected career of writing for children. She wrote for the children's page of the Kuwaiti Times just before the first Gulf conflict in 1989, she worked with school children in North Africa and Tripoli, and when not stationed in one place she travels extensively encouraging people to read. She has published six works to date
Julie’s forte has been children’s books (and she has written many of them, translated into multiple languages and winning many medals) but in this book she proves she is right up there with the adult romance cum suspense cum humor tales that keep the reader guessing while snickering and laughing and lip biting at times.

From the opening paragraph she prepares us for the skill in writing and involvement in the upcoming story that is up there with the best chick lit authors: ‘A half a packet of gum, a few skin-thin pages of a book, something religious, screwed up into careless balls and ... well, I’ll just come out with it … a lazily slung, used condom: this was all I could see from my vantage point under a bed that had seen more action than Madonna, in what had to be a contender for America’s dirtiest, grimiest, most sordid and sleazy motel room. Please don’t judge me; I was under the bed, not on it. I thought places like this existed only in the movies, but there I was, secreted under the bed. And what was I doing? Waiting for Jack, my husband, my beloved Jack … cheating Jack. Hiding under a bed? A grown woman? Give me a break. We all do things that we’re not proud of, and this was the only way of proving once and for all that Jack was guiltier of this than most. How could he? I took a deep breath to keep my emotions in check, but that phrase kept running through my head over and over again. How could he? How could he?’

Julie offers a succinct synopsis that merely suggests the outline of this terrific story; ‘When the most bookish, clumsy geek manages to bag the most handsome, beautiful man on campus – the man that all the other girls would happily have thrown their Kappa Kappa Delta sisters under the bus for – then it can’t end well. But Maggie has beaten the odds and is ten years into her marriage with Jack. However, the pages in the book of fairytales are beginning to smolder and burn as she starts to question his fidelity. Forced into action by her suspicions, and hindered by her over-sexed mother and under-brained friend, Maggie embarks on a search for truth. What she finds, however, is an adventure that throws her directly into the claws of danger and will make her wish that infidelity was the only thing she had to worry about.’ But the denouement and climax and ending are just terrific.

You’ll never meet a better formed character than Maggie and the manner in which she manipulates her life in this tale is close to Hollywood (or maybe an Indie film on television). Julie is a fine writer of the adult genre: let’s see if she maintains the same degree of polish as she has with her excellent children’s books. Grady Harp, September 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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