Summary

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard. So it doesn't matter that he's 20 years older. That he sees her only in secret. That slowly but surely, she's sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him. 
Sarah's friends are worried. Her father can't understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she's on the verge of losing her job. 
But Sarah can't help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew. 
And love is supposed to hurt. 
Isn't it? 
©2018 Louise O'Neill (P)2018 Quercus Editions Limited
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Critic reviews

"A bold, uncompromising depiction of obsessive love." (Marian Keyes)
"O'Neill is a vital and necessary presence in contemporary literature and we are lucky to have her." (Sarah Perry)
"A real, raw story...Louise O'Neill will once again connect to the secret, intimate places of readers' minds and lives." (Cecelia Ahern)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By K. J. Noyes on 07-03-18

Obsession and objectification - dark tale

Any additional comments?

Obsession and its consequences - bleak but biting look at male chauvinism and female infatuation

3.5 stars

"male chauvinism and female infatuation" - that's not to say that these characteristics are gender-related, but they are what the book explores. After the totally amazing debut of 'Only Ever Yours' and the powerful 'Asking For It', 'Almost Love' feels like more standard-genre, a Fatal Attraction-esque 'behind the scenes' of a toxic relationship where both parties use the other. If you look closely at their affair: is either blameless?

At the start, I sympathised with Sarah, the art teacher wooed by a Dad at Parents' Evening, swapping flirty text messages and eventually agreeing to meet. Their relationship, if you can call it that, is one you cry out for Sarah to walk away from. But she doesn't... it's hard to understand what she is getting out of it.

While this is going on, we see Sarah again two years on, in another relationship, this time with Oisin (pronounced Ish-een), a decent sort of bloke who is quite clearly perplexed by her deteriorating amiability as she compares him to what has gone before and can't let go of the past.

I lost my sympathy for Sarah quite early on - Matthew is slimy, controlling and completely undesirable. After one encounter, I couldn't see what made Sarah return for more. She comes across as incredibly immature and still sees herself as a student rather than in a responsible position as teacher (often hungover and late for work). I wanted her to snap out of her peevishness with Oisin as well.

A very different book to O'Neill's others, I was reminded of Elizabeth Haynes' 'Into the Darkest Corner' with the constant back and forth between time periods very close together and the intimate details of a toxic affair. But this isn't crime, and O'Neill she always does, looks at female issues - how men see and treat women, as well as this time what women need from men.

This for me doesn't stand out in the way her first, and to some extent, Asking For It, do. I didn't warm to character or plot particularly, and unlike some others, I didn't really care what happened to Sarah at the end. I felt she needed to grow up. A bit cold of me, I know! For a writer to generate a strong feeling of any sort in a writer denote the power of their writing though, and O'Neill does give Sarah a strong (if not likeable) voice.

I accessed this as an audiobook, and the Irish-accented narrator was well-chosen: a young and slightly frivolous voice at the start becomes a more consumed and jaded woman later on.

This isn't going to be for everyone, and there are some slightly distasteful sexual scenes (though not particularly graphic in content). It is quite dark - not one to take on holiday as a beach read, but it does give a lot of food for thought as to why women (especially) can become 'needy' with partners and how it can affect their lives.

With thanks to Nudge Books for the sample reading/listening copy, provided for review purposes.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By fell on 21-04-18

i love this authors other works

i wanted to like this book i really did! but i couldnt enjoy it. i did not like the main character and the story was slow.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David sergienko on 09-03-18

Exceeded all expectations!

I was so excited to get the book when it finally came out. Love Louise O’Neill’s work, and this book is no exception, better then expected, it’s like she sneaked into my head and told my story. Can not wait for more books!

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