Love is a subject that most can relate to; it is a common, sometimes confused, theme between us all. There is an incredible number of books on our shelves which explore a woman’s loss of love, how she survives through the pain of a break-up or divorce and how she triumphs and moves on. What Waldman has done with ‘The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.’ is flip the usual perspective. There remains the typical relationship saga of I don’t know why I don’t want to be with you, I just don’t… I don’t think, yet it is told from the male point of view – the man who’s drifting away, not the woman being hurt. The particularly clever crux is, however, that it is essentially still a woman behind those words so this book becomes, not just an entertaining read, but also an interesting study of male and female relationships, attitudes and perceptions of love.
Nathaniel Piven is doing quite well for himself. He wasn’t always in such a good position – he’s been the unpopular geek at school – but since his success with a lucrative book deal, writing regular magazine features and having the pick of the girls, he’s feeling pretty good about life. The thing is, sometimes there’s something missing.
One evening, at an ex’s dinner party, he meets a lovely girl. They date. All appears to be going very well. Until, almost suddenly, it’s just not. Nathaniel knows what a good thing he has going, he knows that he’s found someone intelligent and kind and fun. But why is that not quite enough? He finds his mind wandering to other women. As the relationship gets more serious, Nate is forced to consider what he really wants.
This is no dramatic, twisting, mind-boggling work of fiction, but boy does it scratch an itch. Adelle Waldman, in exploring love, sex and relationships from one male’s perspective, has raised questions about love and romance and attempted to bring to light (with this one fictional example within a challenging literary world) the ways in which men and women may think differently. Is it just a matter of right place, right time? How important is timing, really? Is romance dead?
This book is a light, entertaining and inspiring read. There are as many forms of love in the world as there are colours of an English sky, but here, Adelle Waldman – with the help of Nathaniel the emotionally confused male – has found a way of exploring aspects of many relationships within the folds of one, unsuspecting novel.