ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Love is a Curse by Keith Stuart

Love is a Curse by Keith Stuart was published by Sphere on 25th April 2024 in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to Clara Diaz for the review copy.

From acclaimed author Keith Stuart, author of A Boy Made of Blocks and The Frequency of Us, comes a daring and unique story of heartbreak and hope.

A single sentence was all it took to define Cammy’s life. They came as her beloved artist aunt was dying, a teenage Cammy standing by her bedside: ‘Did your mother ever tell you about the curse?’

Cammy is warned that the women in her family are destined always to lose the one they love. She thinks nothing of it – until the day when, in her late twenties, her new boyfriend is hit by a car. Convinced she is to blame, Cammy begins to investigate the one-hundred-and-fifty-year story of a family that is both ordinary and remarkable, tragic and beautiful.

But is the curse real, or is there an answer lurking in the letters, diaries and paintings of generations of women whose hearts were broken?

Camilla Piper has known for a long time that she is not destined to be happy in love. There’s a curse on her family that runs down the female line and she takes it as confirmation when her boyfriend has a car crash and is seriously injured. It’s only as she looks further into her family’s history that she learns more about the origin of the curse and starts to wonder if it’s not as clear cut as she first thought.

Love is a Curse is a gothic story both in setting and substance. Camilla lives in a converted church and this atmospheric setting plays its part extremely well in giving an impression of foreboding and long-held secrets. There’s a sense throughout of something a little malevolent lurking for every female member of Camilla’s lineage. This is not a dual timeline story but one which fills in the blanks from the past with letters, articles, diaries and the like, all punctuating the contemporary storyline in which Camilla must decide whether or not to risk her love for Ben. I liked this device which allowed the whole picture to present itself to Camilla and to the reader in a most interesting way.

This is a multi-layered and really involving novel, It has some unusual aspects that made it feel original, with kind of an ethereal edge to it. I haven’t read any other books by Keith Stuart and I gather this one is a bit of a change of style for him. I found it well-written and intriguing, with a quick-witted and spirited narrator in Cammy, and a storyline that kept drawing me back in.

Keith Stuart is an author and journalist. His heartwarming debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and a major bestseller. His third novel, The Frequency of Us, was a BBC2 Between the Covers pick and Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. Keith has written for publications including EmpireRed and Esquire, and is the former games editor of the Guardian. He lives with his wife and two sons in Frome, Somerset.

TWITTER: @keefstuart
INSTAGRAM: keef.stuart
TIKTOK: @Keefstuart

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