BOOK REVIEW

“Alexander and Maria” – a Romantic Novel by Soulla Christodoulou

Cover Detail: Alexander and Maria, by Soulla Christodoulou

Everyone Deserves Love a Second Time Around

“A story about overcoming adversity in all its forms, it will have you rooting for the characters as they fight for real love. Sexy and passionate, it’s written in beautiful and sensitive prose. Trust is a big word, when life has always let you down. And everyone deserves love a second time around, don’t they? Alexander, locked in a loveless, cold marriage, has melted into the humdrum of life, hiding behind his cerebral palsy. Maria, a single mother, is still reeling from her husband’s gambling and abandonment from years before. They click with their first tweet.”

This is a review of the novel on WHSmith’s website.

Commissioning

Commissioning Editor Charlotte Mbali writes: “Seeing that this is an unusual love-story, with one character having cerebral palsy, I decided to seek out, as reviewer, a social worker who might be familiar with this.

Mary O’Brien is a social worker, and she tried to make contact with a specialist social worker she knew. But then she decided to write the review herself, since she was stuck at home, having tested positive for COVID, in spite of being double jabbed early in the year as an essential worker.  All thanks to her for completing the review during her convalescence, before she returned to work this week!”

Mary O’Brien’s Review

To be honest, I do not normally read romantic fiction but this sounded an interesting concept and I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately I found it a struggle to get through.

The sad joyless marriage between Alexander and Sandra came across very well but equally very one-dimensional, and the descriptions of Sandra I found cruel. I know this is how Alexander perceived her, and the book was called Alexander and Maria not Alexander and Sandra, but the story would have had more depth and interest for me had she had a voice too.

A Cliché Too Far

I found the revelation that Callum was not his son just too much of a convenient cliché, enabling Alexander to leave relatively guilt-free. Alexander said that he had always had his doubts that he was Callum’s father – why is this only mentioned about 80% into the story?  

A Good Idea, But Not Well Developed

The idea of having a hero with a disability is a great idea, but I’m not sure this is the best way to do it. Yes, I have more idea now of what life could be like for one person with cerebral palsy, but there was an awful lot of description and I sensed that the author felt the need to educate, but it would have been effective for me if it had been in context, though I think writing about sex, normally a private activity, is notoriously difficult to do well.

Sympathy For Maria Came Late

I found Maria hard to get a handle on at first, but I did start to get a feel for her later in the book. But, again, the clichés! (Gay best friend, pregnant teenage daughter…)

A Narrative In Tweets

I found the format of the Twitter messages a bit hard going and I am afraid I tended to skim read them.

Little Feeling For the Characters

There were two occasions in the book where I did feel some sort of emotion. One was when Danny and Alexander had a lovely moment of connection on the beach and the other was when Sandra said that when she looked at Callum she saw his father. Nice bit of ambiguity there as to whether she saw lost love or hatred for being abandoned. Sadly, other than that, I did not really care about what happened to these characters.


This novel is published by Conrad, a firm based in Canterbury. Kent Bylines has agreed to review any of their publications if the writer also submits an article or review to KBL.