Is it possible to freecycle love?
Modern dating is hard, especially when all you meet are liars, oddballs, men who wear Superman pants and men who live with their mums.
So why not date someone who already comes pre-approved? Just because your friend’s ex wasn’t right for her doesn’t mean that he won’t be right for you. That’s Marnie’s new plan for herself and her three best friends, perennially single Helen, recently divorced Rosa and cynical lawyer Ani.
Through bad dates and good, the four friends begin to realise that there are advantages to dating pre-screened men…but there can be some serious pitfalls to falling for your friend’s ex. (Goodreads)
The Ex Factor was one of a number of books that were on a list sent by the publisher. The cover and title were what stuck out for me so I decided to request a review copy. This was despite the fact that it had been a little while since I had read any books classed as “Chic-Lit”.
I’m glad I did because this was a book that really seemed to strike a chord with me, due to the fact that the women in this book are all in their early to mid-thirties, unlike the usual twenty something that this genre usually has. The cover and synopsis also hinted that this book was about these women looking to find love and although that is part of the story, this book is much more than that. The main characters, Helen, Marnie, Rosa and Ani, are all at a point in life where they aren’t where society expects them to be. Rather than having a partner and possible children, due to certain circumstances, all four are still single. So when Marnie comes back to London and proposes they set each other up with an ex. I knew from the outset that this would cause problems. Coupled with the fact that each woman knew or were acquainted with a guy who seemed a better match, I didn’t have much hope for the dates the others had set up being successful.
There is a strong theme that runs throughout the book of wishing for what you could have had, especially as the women meet up with the ones that got away. The experiment begins to crumble and the cracks between the friendship seems to grow.
For me, I could empathise with the women in this book, especially Ani and Helen, as both have certain parts of their life that I could relate to. Ani with the fact that she has done really well in her career, but it felt as though it was at the sacrifice of her love life and Helen due to the fact that she come across as a bit of a geek. That isn’t to say I didn’t sympathise or feel for Marnie or Rosa, but I found myself really becoming invested in Helen and Ani.
Woods has captured the pitfalls in being a single thirty something perfectly and shows realism in the modern world. She knows how to take you from laughing at some of the situations the characters get into, to really feeling for them when things go wrong and it seems that the search for a partner is going to end in disaster. The experiment really does threaten to destroy their friendship, but it is just the catalyst for exposing the conflicts and old wounds that have been festering for years.
After finishing the book, I realised that though romance and finding the one was a part of the book, the main thing was being able to accept who you are and what you want from life. Only then could each of the women in the book begin to look outwards. Once each character had did this, you saw them moving forward in their lives. It was refreshing to have a book that didn’t have every character meet “the one” and that the end of the book was the first step in their journey.
The Ex Factor is more than the brightly covered cover and the hint that this is your typical “chic-lit” romance book. This is a book about friendship, self acceptance and the pitfalls of dating in the modern world. Once you start this book, you are quickly drawn into these women’s lives and you want the best for them. With each heartbreak and cringe worthy moment, I had the urge to head over to their flats with a bottle of wine and a large pizza. (Though this may not be to Helen or Rosa’s taste).
Do give this book a go, especially if you are missing the complex and cookie friendship the women of the TV Show Sex and the City have, then you need to pick up this book.
OTHER BOOKS BY EVA WOODS
The Thirty List
The Ex Factor