Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Gravity of Love by Noëlle Harrison - Release Day Review


396 pages
Publisher: Black & White Publishing
Release date: May 24, 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78530 1933


In love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence …

Scottsville, Arizona, 1989
In small-town America, Joy Sheldon loves the plants that bloom in the desert but longs too for the sea’s elemental wildness. It’s a dream never realised – and now, facing the brutal truth that her husband is a cheat, Joy learns of unimaginable secrets in her early life. Riven by betrayal and loss, a chance encounter with the enigmatic Lewis, Joy embarks on a journey to seek her true identity – and to discover why the sea pulls so strongly at her heart.

Soho, London, 1967
Lewis Bell, abandoned by his mother and responsible for his wayward sister, is now living the dream. An ambitious young graphic designer, he’s aiming for the big time – if only he can keep his creative spark. His talented girlfriend Marnie adds pressures of her own and, as Lewis’s troubles intensify, sixties London fast shows its darker side.

Ballycastle, Ireland, Easter, 1989
Unexpectedly drawn together, Joy and Lewis fly across the Atlantic to the Irish coast. She’s in search of a lost mother; he’s looking for a lost love. They need to make peace with the past, with themselves and others. But the truths they encounter and connections they create will transform everyone’s lives forever.

Bold, intimate and joyful, this glorious novel deftly interweaves decades, continents and lives to tell a story of the irresistible gravity of love.


It has been years since I last read a new Noëlle Harrison novel, but this book proves it was well worth the wait. The Gravity of Love is a stunning, intriguing and exquisitely plotted story that held me spell-bound from start to finish. It’s a story about the ties that bind us, despite life and fate doing its best to keep or tear us apart. It’s a tale about coming to grips with the past in order to open up the future to new possibilities. And it tells of finding courage in times of despair so that it may lead you to the life that was always meant to be yours.

I don’t want to say a whole lot about the plot beyond what you can read in the blurb. This story unfolds slowly, moving back and forth between 1967 and 1989, revealing a little more about the past and with it, clarifying the ‘present’, with each subsequent segment. I have to say that the revelations in the end didn’t come as a huge shock to me, but I’m not sure they were meant to be. After all, this is a contemporary novel, not a mystery.

I do have to admit that I had one or two issues with Lewis’s behaviour in the past, until I would remind myself of the time that part of the story was set in, and the way society operated in those days. In fact, it was exactly because neither Lewis nor Joy (or anybody else in this story) is faultless, that this story worked for me so well. At no point did this plot sound far-fetched, while I absolutely adored the way coincidences gave meaning to both the storyline and the character’s actions and reactions.

While I wouldn’t call this book a romance, the story comes with strong romantic themes and storylines, not to mention tasteful yet hot sexy scenes. The theme of this book is that some things are meant to be, that some connections exist even before the people involved are fully aware of each other’s existence. This means story has strong leanings toward determinism. Every act in the past is not only linked to what happens in the present, but also crucial for events in the present to be able to occur. A leads to B, which pushes the characters towards C, but not always in the way they imagine.

I want to end this review with a word about Noëlle Harrison’s writing because she creates beautiful images with her words. Vivid descriptions pull the reader in, create a tangible atmosphere and place you in the moment so well that you can almost see that Aurora Borealis with your own eyes. You’ll feel the rain and experience the wildness of the Irish west coast as you read these pages. The aroma of flowers and fruit will tease your senses and fully emerge you in this story. Just as you will leave the book feeling that you got to know Joy and Lewis so well that you would recognise them if you met them on the street. And such a meeting would not surprise you, because Lewis and Joy are so alive on the page it seems possible that they would jump off it and enter the ‘real’ world.

Long story short: The Gravity of Love is a well plotted, beautifully told, and intriguing book that left me delighted and enriched by the time I finished it. I highly recommend this book, as well as everything else, by Noëlle Harrison.

The Author

Noëlle Harrison is the author of Beatrice, A Small Part of Me, I Remember, The Adulteress and The Secret Lives of Julia Caesar. Her Valentina trilogy was published under the name Evie Blake. Noëlle’s work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and has featured on Der Spiegel’s Bestseller List. Noëlle featured in the National Gallery of Ireland’s anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision, Irish Writers on Art. She has lived and worked in Ireland, London, Norway and now Scotland, where she’s completing a creative writing Masters at Edinburgh Napier University.

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