Beautiful Messy Love reviewed by Tara

Is it possible to simply lock eyes across the room, fall in love and live happily ever after? Fortunately for the reader, this is not the case in Beautiful Messy Love. The relationships between the characters are complex and compelling and the unexpected hurdles that arise keep the reader wondering what lies ahead.

Famous football star Nick Harding, who is returning to the game after rehabilitating from an injury, has a notorious reputation for his conquests. The only devotion he has shown is to his sport and his team. Will he ever be interested in more than a one night stand?

Lily, Nick’s sister, is a medical student on placement at a prestigious cancer hospital. She is in a world of pain following a recent breakup and beginning to realise that she has spent her life pursuing the expectations of others. Will a passionate affair be a new beginning or another disaster?

Anna, a young Egyptian woman with haunted eyes, works as a waitress at Black Salt and is a regular at the cafeteria of the cancer hospital. She lives with her conservative, refugee family and is trying to move forward from the events of her past. Can she find love and happiness in her new life?

Toby, who has buried his career dream to work as a builder in the family business, is also a regular at the cancer hospital cafeteria as he cares for his dying wife. What does the future hold for him?

The story is told from the point of view of these four different characters. Their paths initially overlap in brief encounters and then quickly intertwine like long strands of spaghetti in a bowl. Each chapter reveals a different perspective and a further piece to the story. The result is an entertaining tale which explores the characters’ relationships and their competing loyalties.

The characters are authentic and distinctive. Tess Woods grew up in Alexandria, Egypt with a ‘large, loud, passionate extended family of Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic and Muslim relatives’. She has channelled this diversity and energy into the characterisation of Anna and her extended family. I enjoyed the strength of these characters and the insight into their perspective on life and love.

Beautiful Messy Love looks at love and loyalty from a variety of perspectives: the different levels of romantic relationships, the relationship between a parent and a child, intercultural relationships, family loyalty, the loyalty required from a professional sportsman to his club, fans and other stakeholders and love associated with loss.

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