Alice Love — a Londoner, a lawyer, an all-around safe and ordinary individual — is about to change. It’s not enough that she’s worked hard to save for her dream home or tried to nurture a relationship with her eccentric father and his new wife, or her ethereal stepsister Flora. The Universe doesn’t care that she’s tried to years to move beyond her boring corporate law job and represent real talent at the agency where she works, and fate isn’t interested in watching her try to form a relationship with another disinterested guy.
No. Fate says her identity ripe for plucking.
“It started with a vibrator,” begins Abby McDonald’s The Liberation of Alice Love. Strange purchases — like that one — trickle into Alice’s mailbox, and odd phone calls from “creditors” start buzzing her phone. And when she arrives at her bank — the one where 32,000 of her hard-earned pounds have been, she assumed, locked away — Alice is told that she emptied her account.
Emptied. Her. Account.
McDonald’s novel is a modern-day nightmare — the total dismantling and theft of one’s life. Her money, interests, name — all compromised. And I’ll give Alice credit — she handles it all with grace and aplomb.
You know. Most of the time.
What ensues is our heroine’s attempt at reclaiming her life, even if she can’t reclaim all her money. And once the identity of the thief is revealed, Alice becomes obsessed with finding the person to learn why they did this. It’s not that it was random, or that Alice was an unfortunate victim of the circumstances — no. She knows this person. Knows this person.
And she wants an explanation.
What I loved best about The Liberation of Alice Love was McDonald’s whirlwind, exciting plot — one that took us from Point A to Point B in record time, but not the point that I felt the whole thing was a farce. On the contrary: I actually found Alice’s mission very believable, and I can’t imagine what I would do in a situation like that. I really connected with and felt for her as she struggled to piece everything back together, but the best part?
Well, the best part was the realization that maybe . . . maybe things will be better now. Watching the growth and transition of a character is what I love best about reading: the lessons they learn, even the tough ones; the ways they change and shift their thinking. Though Alice was, of course, a good person, she was a very dissatisfied and buttoned up person. By the close of the novel, I found myself cheering her on to the next big thing. Even if it was a long, hard road to get there.
Fans of women’s fiction and British chick lit will become absorbed in the prose of McDonald, already a prolific novelist at 25. I loved her relationship with Flora, her stepsister, too; it defied the obvious form of so many other unconventional sibling relationships. McDonald didn’t take the easy road — and I liked it.
4 out of 5!