A romance novel written by a man?
A really good romance novel written by a man?
As you may be able to make out on the cover, this is a book that Marcus Zusak (author of The Book Thief, the Messenger . . . if you’re not familiar with him, you should be) called:
“The bravest, most beautiful book I’ve read in a long time”
Now, if you have been reading this blog you will recall the way I described the romance of the young adult genre. Reading that kind of romance is a bit like whacking your head against a wall – if you do it for too long your IQ takes a dip and your head starts to feel numb and fuzzy.
People, this is NOT that sort of romance.
To Be Sung Underwater is the story of a forty-something year old film editor called Judith whose comfortable life in LA starts to fall apart for reasons she doesn’t quite understand. She starts to reflect on the summer before she left home for college and the boy she left behind. The boy she promised to marry but ultimately abandoned.
“Given it’s throbbing element, it would later seem odd to Judith that what she remembered as the essence of the Summer of Willy Blunt was its illusion as a safe haven and suspension of time. If Rufus Sage was a small world, then she and Willy lived in a small world within a small world, tucked away from all other influences. It wasn’t so much that the outside world didn’t exist, but that it rarely intruded.”
This book is so, so gorgeously written. McNeal creates these amazing, vivid images that fall straight off the page and unfold in your mind’s eye. It’s effortless reading – almost like watching a film.
The characters are intriguing and the story itself is beautiful. There is something very simple and truthful about the romance – it’s not soppy and cliché-ridden. It’s just about two normal people experiencing powerful feelings for the first time and reacting the way humans do.
Ultimately this is a sad book, but don’t let that put you off. The ending is not simply sad for the sake of being sad – it suits the story perfectly and it’s a big part of why I think To Be Sung Underwater is just stunning.
If you’re sick of the popular romance that is floating around, I would give this book a try.