3 out of 4 stars
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It all started with some cream puffs and conversations over astronomy and philosophy. Neil had some cream puffs set aside to bring to his wife, but this woman in front of him, Ellie, looked so disappointed when he said they were out. Neil decided to give her his hidden stash and therefore set off a chain of events leading to love. I suppose I might fall in love with someone too if they were able to magically get me my favorite food when they were supposedly out. In return for Neil's good deed, Ellie buys him a copy of her favorite book Atlas Shrugged. After completing the book, Neil writes Ellie a letter and puts it with the book at the bakery in case she should return. The two start writing, then emailing, then calling each other every day to talk about things they feel like they can't discuss with anyone else. If only each of them weren't already married.
Neil is married to Fay. She is a glassblower and can feel Neil's love toward her starting to cool and harden like the glass she works with. Neil is struggling to find meaning in life and currently contemplates his suicide. Therefore, meeting Ellie and finding someone he finally connects with intellectually is like a breath of fresh air to him. Ellie's relationship with her husband is less than perfect. Her husband, Jake, keeps several secrets from her that would easily end their relationship. Unaware of the lies, Ellie's situation is otherwise ideal. She has a five-year-old son that she gets to stay home with due to Jake's lucrative business. Therefore, Ellie's new love brings about some questions. Will she divorce her husband to be with Neil? Is she willing to find a job to support her and her son? Is she willing to leave their mansion and find a small apartment to live in?
When I read the author, E. L. Neve, was also the author of The Crystilleries of Echoland, I was immediately interested in this book. I really enjoyed this previous book by the author and was interested in reading her romance novel. As always, E. L. Neve creates a novel full of robust descriptions and creative analogies. I particularly liked a part where Neve talks about how Fay spins glass while at work but has no power to spin things back to the way they used to be in her relationship with Neil. I liked that Ellie's favorite book was Altas Shrugged. My husband actually wanted me to read the book, so it's neat to see another couple discussing the book as well. Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was seeing how the two different marriages progressed as Neil and Ellie's relationship developed. The two marriages were very different in how they adapted to the friendship, and I think it's believable that they would have different reactions.
I didn't really care for the fact that Neil and Ellie claimed to their partners that they were in love with each other but only with their minds and not their bodies. I think it's kind of laughable that you could ever be so naive to think you could intimately connect with someone intellectually and not feel some physical connection along with that. I was also a little disappointed in the lack of building up to any certain turning point or climax. While the storyline was decent, it does not contain much action or surprise. The book isn't necessarily boring, but when I finished I was rather indifferent with the book as a whole.
I rate Looking Glass Friends a 3 out of 4. I would recommend this to readers who like romance novels. When I read the summary, I thought the book would contain more letters between Neil and Ellie. While it does have some letters between the two of them, I think it could have contained more and would have increased the appeal of the book. I didn't find any issues with the editing of the book. Overall, I think the book is an interesting read about relationships, and it makes you wonder why people stay in relationships when they are such a poor fit for each other.
Looking Glass Friends
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