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reviews for book of love

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It feels sort of mean trashing “Book of Love,” a bilingual romantic comedy that offers a clever premise but never truly delivers on it in satisfying fashion.

The film is clearly sweet and well-intentioned, but Mexican director and co-writer Analeine Cal y Mayor has trouble transcending the confines of her meager budget, which leaves “Book of Love” looking and sounding distractingly chintzy. It might have been possible to overlook such technical weaknesses if the script from Cal y Mayor and David Quantick were stronger. Stock characters receive superficial characteristics: the uptight Brit, the feisty single mom, the flaky ex-husband, the flamboyantly gay book publisher. And it certainly doesn’t help that her two stars, Sam Claflin and Verónica Echegui , haven’t got the slightest bit of chemistry with each other, despite their individual appeal.

There’s some promise at the beginning, though. Claflin plays Henry Copper, a London novelist whose latest work, “The Sensible Heart,” is such a dud that he draws only three people to his in-store book reading—one of whom is his publicist. It’s a romance novel without the romance; patience is more important than passion. Not exactly a breezy beach read. But then his rude and demanding publicist ( Lucy Punch ) informs him that, surprisingly, “The Sensible Heart” is a huge hit in Mexico. And once he arrives there to bask in the adulation and drum up sales, he finds out why: The translator, Maria Rodriguez (Echegui), rewrote the whole thing in Spanish, turning it into a hot-and-heavy bodice ripper. An aspiring writer herself, she viewed it as an opportunity to practice her craft and lift herself from the doldrums of waiting tables at a neighborhood bar to support her young son.

But in the process, Maria turns Henry into an unlikely sex symbol. Claflin is very much in 1990s Hugh Grant mode here, fumbling and bumbling his way through every scenario. Henry’s halting delivery and paltry knowledge of Spanish offer some easy, fish-out-of-water laughs. This is actually an amusing idea that could have been dragged out longer: Henry’s confusion over the response to his book, and the disparity between what’s actually in it and the way women everywhere throw themselves at him. This is a guy who wears a corduroy blazer wherever he goes, regardless of the weather, and women are tossing their panties at him on stage. Cal y Mayor clues Henry in far too early, leaving him and Maria to bicker as they travel from town to town in her beat-up Volkswagen Beetle for the rest of the film.

Ah, but they also have to fall in love with each other, of course, which becomes increasingly difficult to believe the more time they spend together. There’s just no connection, even when they’re forced to work together on a second book because their first “collaboration” was such a success. Right when the pacing should be getting zanier, it drags. Their getting-to-know-you conversations are inane, and the awkward way these scenes are blocked and shot does them no favors. One sequence at a supposedly popular TV talk show looks like something out of cable access programming, the set is so flimsy and the lighting is so unflattering.

But Echegui has a lot of spark, which manages to shine through despite the story’s shortcomings. She’s got a likable screen presence and displays some sharp comic timing here and there. And she has some nice moments with Ruy Gaytan as her young son, Diego, whom she must schlep on the book tour, along with her grandfather, for all sorts of contrived reasons.

Diego is the key to one of the strongest and gentlest scenes in the film, when Henry tries to console the boy using mangled Spanish with the help of a pocket dictionary. There’s some hope in the decency on display there, as well as a wee bit of character development. But then frustratingly, “Book of Love” resorts to rom-com cliches for its big finale: a very public proclamation of love on stage in front of a packed audience, as well as a wacky brawl involving Maria’s jealous ex. You’ve read this book before—countless times.

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Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for RogerEbert.com since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years and co-hosted the public television series "Ebert Presents At the Movies" opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor. Read her answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here .

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Film credits.

Book of Love movie poster

Book of Love (2022)

106 minutes

Sam Claflin as Henry

Verónica Echegui as Maria

Antonia Clarke as Alison

Horacio García Rojas as Antonio

Melissa Pino as Helena

Galya Vidal as Francisca

Fernando Becerril as Max Rodríguez

Ruy Gaytan as Diego

Horacio Villalobos as Pedro

Lucy Punch as Jen Spencer

  • Analeine Cal y Mayor
  • David Quantick

Cinematographer

  • Gerardo Barroso
  • Berny McGurk
  • Mark Thornton
  • Ian Livingstone

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Book Reviews

Kelly link's debut novel 'the book of love' is magical, confusing, heartfelt, strange.

Gabino Iglesias

Cover of The Book of Love

For years, fans of Kelly Link, one of the finest purveyors of contemporary short fiction, have wondered what the author would be able to do with a full novel — and have eagerly waited for her to deliver one.

That wait ends now with the release of The Book of Love , Link's debut novel. And the author has embraced the freedom granted by a longer format, delivering a 600-page behemoth of a novel that shatters reality while pulling readers into the lives of several characters and obliterating any perceived dividing line between speculative fiction and literary fiction.

As an avid reader and book reviewer, I'm looking forward to seeing how other reviewers tackle a synopsis of this novel. The narrative starts late one night when Laura, Daniel, and Mo find themselves in a classroom with their music teacher and a strange entity. The youngsters are dead, but they're not. They disappeared a year ago from their hometown of Lovesend, Massachusetts. They were presumed dead, and they are, but now that they're back, their teacher, who possesses magical powers, alters reality. Instead of dead, they're all coming back from a long trip to study in Ireland. Their teacher knows what happened...maybe.

With their story in their heads and their new reality in place. the teenagers are sent back to their previous lives, where they must cope with everything that happened during their absence while simultaneously trying to figure out what will happen next. Also, there was a cryptic message for them on the blackboard of the room where they appeared: "2 RETURN/2 REMAIN." What does it mean? How does that math affect the outcome of their return? Their life as the undead is already complicated enough, but their bizarre revivification has brought something other than the teenagers from the other side; supernatural entities that have their own agendas. As Laura, Daniel, and Mo navigate their new situation and adapt to their new realities, they must also crack the mystery of their return, and more than their own resurrection hangs in the balance.

That's a lengthy synopsis, but it barely scratches the surface of The Book of Love , which also delves into the complications of love and friendship, family drama, grief, resilience, and the unlimited power of adaptability while delivering a tale of supernatural menace that also explores what it truly means to be alive. After years of award-winning short stories in some great venues and a few outstanding short story collections like Get in Trouble , which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and White Cat, Black Dog , this novel is proof that Link can be as strange, entertaining, and witty in novel form as she is when writing short stories.

The Book of Love is a narrative about love — and death and resurrection and kissing people and growing up and sibling rivalry and horror. This is a story about stories that even touches on writing. Mo's grandmother, Maryanne, who passed away while Mo was away, was a prolific writer who wrote 73 books in 42 years. Writing allowed her to build a good life and to take care of Mo after his mother passed away. She was also a Black woman. Little details like that open the door to new things, so while Link is telling us about Mo, she also gives us Maryanne's biography while also discussing publishing and the intricacies of a Black woman writing a very popular series about a white woman. Stories within stories, narratives that delve into memories, and expansive passages what go deep into the psychological and emotional inner worlds of the characters are common. In fact, this book will be too much for some readers. This is an entertaining novel, but it's also a barrage of ideas and minutiae, a veritable onslaught of language and narratives that deviate from the core of the story.

This is a long book that's simultaneously dazzling and dizzying. Some lines cut with their clarity and sincerity while some plot elements are puzzling. Link is a wizard writing spells that obey a dream logic only she fully understands. At once a book for adults that's full of elements that make it feel like a fantasy YA novel, a story about survival and danger that starts with a group of dead kids and only gets weirder from there, and a narrative that shows a mighty writer with a unique voice at the height of her powers, The Book of Love is, simply put, a magical, confusing, heartfelt, strange, wonderfully written novel that delivers everything fans of Link's short fiction expected while also packing a few surprises.

Gabino Iglesias is an author, book reviewer and professor living in Austin, Texas. Find him on X, formerly Twitter, at @Gabino_Iglesias .

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‘Book of Love’ Review: An Imperfect Yet Lovable Rom-Com of Modest Pleasures

While Analeine Cal y Mayor’s amiable romp doesn’t master the screwball language, it still worthily celebrates the art of sex and romance through a charming tale of opposites

By Tomris Laffly

Tomris Laffly

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Book of Love

Mainstream romantic comedies are a rare breed these days. Good ones, with real relationship stakes and sexual tension of the kind that once starred the likes of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, are even rarer. That’s why one has to at least respect the effort when something like the amiable but imperfect “ Book of Love ” comes along with a time-honored “sex sells” principle, defying a sex-starved cinematic landscape oversaturated by sterile superheroes and icy franchises even if it doesn’t quite deliver the goods.

Indeed, Analeine Cal y Mayor ’s balmy little charmer couldn’t be more welcome during the February chill despite its occasional clumsiness in plotting and deficit in its leads’ chemistry. Rest assured that this opposites-attract romp of modest pleasures (launching on Amazon Prime today) still leaves the sweet aftertaste of a mini romantic getaway, one you might as well indulge in from the comfort of your living room.

The aforesaid “sex sells” premise is quite literally at the heart of “Book of Love,” which follows the uptight London novelist Henry ( Sam Claflin , with appealing mystique) as he struggles with the embarrassingly unsuccessful launch of his first novel. The book is such a raging failure that bookstores have a ridiculous “Buy 1, Get 3 Free” deal on it — oh, the shame! Realistically speaking though, how could the novel sell when it’s billed as a romance, and yet lacks any shred of eroticism? It would be one thing if the corduroy-clad and stiff-upper-lipped Henry was quieter about his work’s utter celibacy. But taking a strange sense of pride in his characters’ sexlessness, he instead single-handedly sabotages any potential curiosity by repeating the quote, “Chastity is having the body in the soul’s keeping,” as often as he can.

So you can only imagine his surprise when his marketing-minded publisher informs Henry that the book is a record-breaking best-seller in Mexico. Before we can even ask when or why the novel ever got translated into Spanish, he finds himself on the next flight out for an overseas promotion. Enter the savvy local Maria Rodríguez (an attractively no-nonsense Verónica Echegui), asked to accompany and translate for Henry throughout his Mexico stay, after somehow also fulfilling the task of translating his book … with some hefty artistic liberties, to put it mildly. In fact, it’s thanks to Maria’s generous alterations — adding plenty of sex, diverse sexual orientations, ample saucy language and a hilariously erotic jacket, among them — that the book has become a “50 Shades”-type hit. How is that for a meet-cute?

A hardworking mother and restaurant worker by day, a talented aspiring writer by night, Maria first tries to keep her modifications from Henry, who conveniently doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. But after a couple of awkwardly funny panels with ooh-and-aah-ing ladies throwing panties at Henry, Maria owns up to making the salacious changes to his dull book, and all hell breaks loose. Well, not exactly. Being the calm and composed English gentleman that he is, Henry takes this “Bullets Over Broadway”-style scheme extremely well, all things considered. So in front of a rapidly growing fan club of colorful romance addicts, the two continue their tour with Maria’s grandfather, adorable young son and annoying musician ex who grows increasingly jealous of the duo’s partnership.

Not all of these side characters work, with the ex especially becoming a distracting afterthought. But through comfortably predictable story beats, vibrant costuming and sunny cinematography, “Book of Love” still pleasantly charges forward like a guilty-pleasure page-turner, resisting the temptation to resort to cheaply offensive clichés about Maria’s Mexican identity. In other words, it’s refreshing that you won’t walk away from the film thinking of her as a feisty or fiery stereotype with little depth. (On the other hand, yes, the very textbook-British Henry could use some serious loosening up.) Instead, “Book of Love” gives us a full-fledged character in Maria, a practical woman well aware of her talents and worth. That’s why the time we invest in the saga of Maria and Henry — who eventually get paired up to co-author a brand-new book — proves to be an enjoyable one on a journey of equals, with Maria even having a leg up.

Sadly, neither Cal y Mayor nor co-writer David Quantick are especially gifted in snappy screwball dialogue, giving us exchanges that will draw more polite smiles than genuine belly laughs. But despite their curiously shy reluctance to lean into something a shade sexier (isn’t that the whole point Maria is making?), their labor is still a worthy one, confronting the inane and often misogynistic notion that romance is slight, and melodramatic eroticism is lowbrow art. (Wait until you hear Maria’s well-argued defense of telenovelas as legitimate entertainment.) In its own small way, “Book of Love” is here to celebrate these forms, and you can’t help but feel moved by the dedication.

Reviewed online, Feb. 2, 2022. Running time: 106 MIN.

  • Production: An Amazon Studios presentation of a XYZ Films, Vertigo Film, Sky, NOW Films, Blazing Griffin, Buzzfeed Studios production, in association with BondIt Media Capital, Head Gear Films, Kreo Filmz FZ, Metrol Technology, Pimienta Films. Producers: Naysun Alae-Carew, Maxime Cottray, Michael Knowles, Allan Niblo, Richard Alan Reid, Nick Spicer, Matt Williams. Executive producers: Luke Taylor, Compton Ross, Phil Hunt, Matthew Helderman, Tyler Gould.
  • Crew: Director: Analeine Cal y Mayor. Screenplay: Analeine Cal y Mayor, David Quantick. Camera: Gerardo Barroso. Editor: Berny McGurk, Mark Thornton. Music: Ian Livingstone.
  • With: Sam Claflin, Verónica Echegui.

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In The Book of Love, Kelly Link shows that the best romances are ghost stories too

The first novel by the acclaimed short-story writer is magical, strange, and just a tad too slow.

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The cover of “The Book of Love” by Kelly Link has a red background and a pattern of gold moons in phases of waxing and waning.

The Book of Love , Kelly Link’s first novel, is a love story, yes. It’s also a ghost story, and a coming-of-age story, and a portrait of a small town. It’s about magic and music and morality. It’s about how annoying siblings are, and how much you need them. It is a book that contains many books, that is bigger than the sum of its many parts. It is also, perhaps, a book that should have been a touch smaller.

The Book of Love begins with three teenagers back from the dead: Type A Laura, eternal elder brother Daniel, inquisitive Mo. They have been in some strange limbo, “a blotted, attenuated, chilly nothingness,” for almost a year. They can’t remember how they died. They don’t understand how they happened to come back.

Their old music teacher, the enigmatic Mr. Anabin, seems to have some answers, but he’s not willing to tell them much. Instead, he puts them through a series of trials, informing them that if they don’t complete their tasks successfully, they will doubtless find themselves back in limbo. Helpfully, Mr. Anabin also enchants all the revenants’ friends and families so that they believe them to have been studying abroad instead of dead — although Susannah, Laura’s rebellious sister and Daniel’s ex-girlfriend, seems to cherish some suspicions despite all the magic.

The mystery of what happened to the three teenagers provides Link with the skeleton of a plot, but she is almost palpably uninterested in solving it. Link, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and Pulitzer finalist for her short stories , seems to be most invested in atmosphere and character work, and she’s developed an ideal showcase for both skills with her setting for The Book of Love : the small town of Lovesend.

Lovesend is a seaside town in Massachusetts. The local club is built out of a plane hangar on the cliffs made iconic for its indoor carousel; the food is mediocre. The coffee shop is called What Hast Thou Ground, and its owner has a policy of cultivating good coffee and a bad atmosphere so people don’t linger too long. Music always seems to be playing somewhere, as though Lovesend is Prospero’s Island. The place is already a little strange, a little unearthly, long before magic arrives.

After that, statues start climbing off their plinths and walking around and people start climbing onto the plinths and turning into statues. There’s a boy who turns into moths and seagulls. There’s a cat who, grooming itself, begins to swallow its leg, and then keeps going, swallowing its whole body until it has swallowed even its smile, “rosy wet gullet snapping together like a fanged coin purse,” a kind of nightmarishly fleshy Cheshire Cat.

As wonders and horrors fight their way across the page, Link moves from character to character. Each chapter of this novel is given an almost biblical “book of” title — The Book of Laura, the Book of Susannah, the Book of Lovesend. The bulk of the novel is given over to the book of the main characters, but Link periodically turns the pages to the books of some of the other citizens of Lovesend, like a man who’s been turned into a tiger or a teen lesbian on whom Laura is madly crushing.

Most beautiful and effective of all is The Book of Maryanne, Mo’s grandmother, a rushing kaleidoscope of a chapter that follows Maryanne throughout her life. We see her early career as a Black romance novelist writing white heroines under a pen name, her successes and her failures, the loss of her daughter and the arrival of Mo. “Time,” thinks Maryanne, “is a row of small and hateful stitches.”

It’s hard not to think, looking at The Book of Maryanne, of a very brief and strange and beautiful short story, the kind at which Link excels. She’s been writing for decades now, but The Book of Love is her first novel. Chapters like The Book of Maryanne make me wonder if The Book of Love would not have felt a little more beautiful and more magical as a novel in stories rather than the sprawling 625-page saga Link has delivered us. Occasionally, you feel a little stab of discomfort with the form as you go.

This is a slow-moving book. It takes 89 pages for Mo, Laura, and Daniel to make their way through their first night back from the dead, and 125 pages after that for a single character to discover any answers about the central mysteries. Then that character promptly gets their memory magically revised, a move Link repeats so often that it starts to feel almost comical.

At times the slow place works as a way of exploring this richly textured small town, these deeply realized love stories. At other times it feels willfully slow, information withheld for no reason until it becomes time for exposition to be dumped inelegantly onto the page. For a writer of Link’s gifts, such clumsiness is jarring. If you’re new to Link’s work, it might be worth checking out her intricate and twisting short stories, a form over which she has full mastery, before you come to this odd novel.

Nonetheless, Link’s gifts are fairly extraordinary on their own. If The Book of Love is flawed, it’s also something strange and beautiful and shimmering.

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‘Book of Love’ Review: Lust (Eventually) in Translation

Unbeknown to the author of an uninspired romance novel, the book takes a sharp turn into erotic territory in its Spanish-language release.

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reviews for book of love

By Natalia Winkelman

“ Who wrote the book of love ?,” the Monotones once mused. It couldn’t possibly be Henry Copper (Sam Claflin), a stodgy author whose debut romance novel is so devoid of passion that it sells only two copies in his native Britain. But when an audacious translator named María Rodríguez (Verónica Echegui) reimagines Henry’s chaste love story as soapy erotica, he becomes a surprise sensation in Mexico.

In “Book of Love” (on Amazon), María is not only a remixer for Henry’s duller passages, she is also his assigned escort on his book tour of Mexico. Henry, who doesn’t speak Spanish, is excited — if perplexed — by the legions of fans who turn out, titillated by the telenovela-worthy sex scenes María added to his work without consulting him. But once several comic exchanges bring her poetic license to light, his thrill turns to rage. Choking on sanctimony, Henry agrees to continue on the tour, but only to preserve his reputation.

When, and in which picturesque city, Henry and María will acknowledge their mutual affection is the burning question of this romantic comedy trifle, which offers a few laughs and many more exasperated groans. As our leading man, Claflin alternates between a pout and a wan smile, and shows all the charm of beans on toast. As for María, there is something tired and clichéd about a Mexican woman’s being deputed to help a British fuddy-duddy embrace narrative spice. It’s a shame that the movie, written and directed by Analeine Cal y Mayor, can’t see that María has better things to do.

Book of Love Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. Watch on Amazon.

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Book of Love Reviews

reviews for book of love

In a romantic comedy, whether you've seen hundreds or thousands everything is known ... Well, all of it is in The Book of All. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jan 11, 2023

reviews for book of love

Any blossoming romance is unearned.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Nov 2, 2022

reviews for book of love

There are hints of a more clever cross-culture rom-com in “Book of Love”, but they’re only hints.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Aug 16, 2022

reviews for book of love

Book of Love is predictable, yet fun and it's worth sticking on if you want to cosy up and escape reality for a couple of hours.

Full Review | Jun 11, 2022

reviews for book of love

Quibbles aside, Book of Love ends up being a surprising mix of sweet and salty, silly and sincere, that earns those coveted rom-com sighs.

Full Review | Original Score: 7.9/10 | Jun 11, 2022

reviews for book of love

The amusing premise is a pretty hilarious setup for a rom-com and the leads are pretty talented. Alas, the charm and hilarity wear off far too soon before the banal, predictable conclusion.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | May 1, 2022

reviews for book of love

On that superficial level the film is easy enough to take, but the actors deserve stronger material. At least it looks as though they enjoyed themselves.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Mar 23, 2022

reviews for book of love

Just an average romcom. This one set in Mexico.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Mar 17, 2022

reviews for book of love

A piece of fluff.

Full Review | Original Score: C+ | Mar 16, 2022

reviews for book of love

Its all very wet; even those who absolutely love the genre and are willing to forgive all in exchange for a bit of feel-good romantic whimsy might find the forced cuteness on offer here hard to endure.

Full Review | Original Score: 1/5 | Mar 12, 2022

You want to like the film but cannot convince yourself to. The premise is fun, some of the humour will tickle you and the acting is decent but that does not add up to a film you will recommend to your friends.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Mar 10, 2022

reviews for book of love

It manages to entertain without resorting to too simplistic of humour and present a certain wholesomeness without falling on saccharine urges

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Mar 10, 2022

reviews for book of love

It helps greatly that Mayor ensures the pace never drags, turning the story into as much a road trip as a comedy of errors.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Mar 8, 2022

Lighthearted, charming, and genuinely funny, this romcom may not have written the book on originality. But Book of Love's fun take on the odd couple thrown together to keep up appearances is surprisingly enjoyable.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Mar 3, 2022

The film successfully blends its fish-out-of-water and romantic elements into a pleasingly feather-light entertainment.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Feb 18, 2022

Chemistry is non-existent -- so, too, are decent laughs. Honestly, the Fifty Shades films were funnier.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Feb 17, 2022

reviews for book of love

Book of Love ends up on my list of favorite opposites attract films like Grease and Pride & Prejudice. It's a fun movie with lots of humorous scenes.

Full Review | Feb 17, 2022

reviews for book of love

Sit back and pour a glass of wine to watch Book of Love, escaping into a land of unrealistic yet entertaining love.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Feb 15, 2022

reviews for book of love

I liked the premise but they never acknowledge that what she did was wrong and that's a problem

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Feb 14, 2022

reviews for book of love

Book of Love is missing intimacy, it's missing spark, it's missing two dragons exploding in a flaming volcano.

Full Review | Original Score: 6/10 | Feb 12, 2022

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Word of Mouth

Submitting a book for review, write the editor, you are here:, the book of love.

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Kelly Link, known as the “master of the short story” for bestselling works like GET IN TROUBLE and WHITE CAT, BLACK DOG, makes her novel debut with THE BOOK OF LOVE. Seven years in the making and at a whopping 640 pages, it is further proof that Link’s masterly control of magic and mayhem knows no bounds.

One year ago, young adults Laura, Daniel and Mo died, vanishing suddenly and without warning or explanation from their cozy seaside community aptly named Lovesend, Massachusetts. In the year since, their families have succumbed to grief, splintered into rage, and reformed in new configurations that willfully ignore the missing branches of their family trees. Susannah has struggled the most. She lost her sister, Laura; her occasional lover, Daniel; and her friend, Mo. Even more than her grief over her sister and friends, though, she senses that something else is missing: the truth. Although she dwells in Laura’s room, tends to their depressed mother, and has ceased causing the trouble of her youth, she can’t shake her lingering anger at her sister.

Then, just as suddenly as they disappeared, the three youths find themselves in their brightly lit high school music classroom. They are being observed by their teacher, Mr. Anabin, a harmless, meandering sort of man known more for his corny affirmational t-shirts than his teaching abilities. The room is a welcome reprieve from the colorless, joyless space they have occupied for the past year. But where was that, why did they end up there, how are they back, and who is the fourth person now accompanying them? After being magically manifested by Mr. Anabin, this stranger tells them that he cannot recall his name or think of any others. Casting a glance around the music room, they name him Bowie.

"Full of mysteries and magical contracts both ancient and new, and characters whose lives move with and against time, this spellbinding novel upends and reinvents what fantasy can do and what it can be."

But Bowie is not the last member to join their impromptu gathering. Just as they are getting their bearings and coming to terms with the world again, a great white dog enters the classroom before morphing into a human. The man is familiar and unfamiliar, known and unknown. He is the one who has watched over them for the last year, and he is not happy about their jailbreak.

Without any explanation, Mr. Anabin and the dog-man, who the young adults find out is called Bogomil, strike a bargain: Laura, Daniel, Mo and Bowie will perform tasks to demonstrate their control of magic, truth and love. When their scores have been tallied, two will return and two will remain. Their first assignment is twofold: the nearly insurmountable task of trying to remember how they died and performing a bit of magic. Neither god nor man, Mr. Anabin has magicked the world into fitting them in again, inserting memories of full scholarships to a prestigious program at a private conservatory in Ireland into the minds of their families and former classmates. Laura, Daniel and Mo will return home as if nothing has happened, and Bowie (whoever he is) will complete his tasks alone. If it sounds like Bowie has drawn the short straw, that is only because you don’t know what happened before Laura, Daniel and Mo disappeared.

One year ago, Laura and Susannah Hand and Daniel Knowe were members of a band cleverly named My Two Hands Both Knowe You. On the night of their disappearance, tension was brewing as they performed at a local watering hole. Susannah, always attuned to chaos, had kissed an audience member as part of their act. This individual was Laura’s longtime crush, and Susannah picked him with the intent of hurting her sister. Laura quickly kissed Daniel, Susannah’s on-again, off-again lover, in retaliation. It’s an interesting dilemma, certainly worthy of a soap opera or teenage romance. But is it enough to have landed Laura, Daniel and poor Mo, who had no romantic entanglements with any of the band members, in the afterlife, and now in this liminal space contained by bargains and contracts? No, but it’s a start.

What Laura, Daniel, Mo, Bowie and even Susannah don’t know is that a sort of war has been brewing for centuries. Three-hundred years ago, a betrayal unbalanced the cosmos and heavens and set their fates into motion, long before they were even conceived or thought of. Alternating between the perspectives of our doomed protagonists and the supporting cast --- high priests, goddesses, lovers, classmates, and even bartenders and waitresses --- Link unfolds a narrative as eternal and timeless as a fairy tale, and as gripping and resonant as a current event. While the main conflict is the teens’ deaths and their fight to return to mortality, Link dives deep into each of their lives to explore queer love, racism, blended families, sibling rivalry and so much more. There are many love stories here, and they span the breadth between lucky and unlucky, doomed and vindicated, but not all of them are romantic or even full of love.

Anyone who has ever read a short story by Kelly Link knows that she is extremely talented. The recipient of a MacArthur Genius grant, she wields the title of “genius” well, and this ambitious undertaking is no exception. THE BOOK OF LOVE is indeed a tome, yet her writing remains true to form: beautiful and transcendent, dreamlike and magical…and rooted in universal, crystalline truths of fact and feeling. Written as a series of “books” --- the chapters are focused on single characters --- it reads like a fairy tale and a play, with the “books” moving against and in accordance to the others, allowing readers to really sink into each character the way you might get to know a new friend or lover.

In composition and style, this is an enchanting and moving novel, though I’ll be the first to admit that Link’s attention to detail --- particularly the lives of her supporting characters --- can be unwieldy at best and totally distracting at worst. It’s a testament to her control of her magic and her ability to contort and manipulate common words into magical configurations and spells that I still could not put the book down. But that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t have been tighter (and certainly easier to hold) at a smaller page count.

Full of mysteries and magical contracts both ancient and new, and characters whose lives move with and against time, this spellbinding novel upends and reinvents what fantasy can do and what it can be. But I cannot wait to see what Link does when she is more comfortable in this longer format and better able to restrain her narrative so that it matches her perfect, transcendent prose.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on February 17, 2024

reviews for book of love

The Book of Love by Kelly Link

  • Publication Date: February 13, 2024
  • Genres: Fantasy , Fiction , Paranormal , Urban Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 0812996585
  • ISBN-13: 9780812996586

reviews for book of love

Screen Rant

Book of love review: sam claflin leads safe & uneven romantic comedy.

The film doesn't lean into the telenovela elements that appear prominently in the third act, leaving viewers wondering where this energy was before.

Sam Claflin has carved out a nice little niche for himself as a romantic leading man. Book of Love builds upon the work he has done in Love, Rosie , Me Before You , and more recently Love Wedding Repeat . In  Book of Love , he plays a button-upped, repressed author who is about to get a crash course on what it means to write about love and sex.

Claflin plays Henry Copper, a newly published writer who is struggling with a flopped book. Six months after publishing, his English publisher, played by Lucy Punch – who is inexplicably has no English accent – tells him that his book is a sensation in Mexico. Henry is filled with excitement at this development. That is, until he is hit with the reality upon his arrival that his Spanish translator, Maria Rodriguez (Verónica Echegui), changed everything. What was once a boring, sexless, emotionless mediation on romantic connection is now a steamy erotic novel. The two writers are then forced to pull off the charade that Henry wrote this version throughout a three-city book tour. In the good old-fashioned romantic comedy way, these two will discover that opposites do attract.

Related:  Sam Claflin’s 10 Best Movies (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

book of love review

The film is based on the premise that a man who looks like Sam Claflin would not have a semblance of a romantic life or any meaningful sexual experiences. Once the audience can overcome that hurdle, Henry stands as a man who recoils from the thought of sex, intimacy, lust, and passion. He is humorless and seemingly at a complete loss at what makes an interesting book. His Mexican counterpart, Maria, is the opposite of that. She isn’t afraid to be expressive and has experiences that allow her to find the right words for a romance novel. She also has a deep passion for writing, but is limited by her circumstances, which only fuels her creativity. Book of Love could only work if it bridges these two different people and their differing ideas of love together, and it doesn’t wholly succeed. While the film plays out how one would expect, it feels like it has to for the sake of the story.

The pacing of the film feels off and there is little development of Henry and Maria’s feelings for each other. It sort of just happens. While Claflin and Echegui do a great deal with their performances, the film’s overall writing doesn’t quite match up to what they are giving. The best parts are the scenes that aim to develop the romance in the latter half of the film. However, it is the connective tissue around their love story and the contrived obstacles that throw the film off-balance.  Book of Love  never meaningfully engages with Maria’s plight or, to an extent, Henry’s. The most disappointing aspect of the film is that it doesn't lean into the telenovela elements that appear prominently in the third act, leaving viewers wondering where this energy was before.

book of love review

The key element of any good romantic comedy is the pairing. Claflin and Echegui are great in their respective roles (even though Spaniards playing Mexicans is not an ideal casting choice). They do a lot to make you feel what their characters are feeling. They also have great chemistry and play off of each other well, selling the growing romance through their body language. Both effectively express the conflicting emotions their characters experience as they embark on this strange literary adventure. Claflin and Echegui are well worth the price of admission (or is that price of subscription now?) and, despite how uneven the film is, they leave a very positive lasting impression.

While the film fumbles with the writing and the plotting of the story, Book of Love manages to be cute and delightful. It doesn’t do anything extremely special, but for fans of romantic comedies, it will scratch an itch. There is a considerable effort to not make the production look like it is under heavy COVID restrictions. For the most part, Book of Love succeeds at feeling like a normal pre-pandemic romcom. Aside from one sad attempt to replicate Carnival, the production design and cinematography do a lot of heavy lifting to distract from the lack of people roaming about. Analeine Cal y Mayor makes all the right choices directing this picture, though it could have been more visually expansive, capturing the absurdity of the situation in a heightened way.

Book of Love is pleasing at best and boring at worst. It seems to suffer from a different writing problem than Henry’s and is lacking the exciting nature of Maria’s. It lands somewhere in the middle, restrained, cheesy (in that sweet sentimental way), and forgettable. It will hold one's attention as they watch, especially if viewers are eager for that sweet romantic-comedy buzz. But beyond that, the film is one of many streaming features that will sadly fade into the ether once it becomes available to all. Despite everything, the film's stars are endearing and perhaps that is all one needs.

NEXT:  The Tender Bar Review: A Meandering, Yet Heartwarming Coming Of Age Story

Book of Love   is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video as of Friday, February 4. The film is 106 minutes long and is not rated.

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Book of Love

  • Children's/Family
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  • Amazon Prime Video

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Book of Love’ On Amazon, A Goofy Rom-Com Starring Sam Claflin As An Uptight Romance Writer

Where to stream:.

  • Book of Love (2022)

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Stream it or skip it: ‘upgraded’ on amazon prime video, a 'devil wears prada'-esque rom-com starring camila mendes, stream it or skip it: ‘shortcomings’ on netflix, a smart and funny character study directed by randall park, it's about time we recognize sydney sweeney as america's sweetheart.

In Book of Love , now streaming on Amazon Prime Video , an uptight English author (Sam Claflin) learns that his dry, frankly terrible romantic novel has become a huge hit in Mexico and travels there to embark on a book tour. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that this trip is not going to be what he expected at all, and the beautiful translator (Verónica Echegui) who turned his book into a buzzy bestseller may have made more than a few changes to his original text than he would have liked. 

BOOK OF LOVE : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: Henry Copper (Sam Claflin) isn’t having great luck with his debut novel, “The Sensible Heart”. The book is about as bland as the title suggests, and it’s selling so poorly that a local bookshop puts out a “buy 1, take 3” promotional sign for it. Because of this failure, he’s a little more than surprised when he hears from his publisher Jen (Lucy Punch), who tells him his book has become a best-selling hit… in Mexico. She tells him he needs to head over there for a book tour and to get active on social media stat so that they can capitalize on whatever success this book gets. Henry heads to Mexico, where he meets his book’s translator, a single mother named Maria (Verónica Echegui). He’s a little more than stunned by the response his book has received there, but it all starts to make sense when he gets a glimpse of his book’s steamy new cover and realizes that Maria has rewritten his boring novel and added a tad more spice (to say the least). This new iteration of “The Sensible Heart” is such a sensation that women flock to his events, send him naked videos of themselves, and vow to name their children after him.

This development is a little less than thrilling for Henry, but he handles it relatively well, going from stop to stop with Maria, her son Diego (Ruy Gaytan), and her grandfather Max (Fernando Becerril) in an old VW bug. His newfound celebrity is confusing for him, and when Jen tells him that they plan to re-release the book in the UK with a new cover (and translated back into English from Maria’s translation), he realizes something has to change. Though initially hesitant to embrace his more passionate side, Henry begins to open his heart to Maria; the two soon pen a new book together, and sparks continue to fly as they help one another to see things in a new light. With Maria’s hot-headed ex still in the picture, however, and more than a few bumps in the road ahead, things might not be as easy as they’d hoped.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?:  27 Dresses ,  The Proposal ,  How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days , and even a bit of  Bridget Jones’s Diary .

Performance Worth Watching: Sam Claflin embraces his inner Hugh Grant in Book of Love , perfectly playing the tightly-wound Brit who learns to loosen up with the help of a brutally honest woman unafraid to put him in his place. We’ve seen Claflin play heroes and romantic leads of sorts, but this role pushes him into new territory, allowing him to play a naive, judgmental man who slowly but surely comes out of his shell and becomes a better person in the process. Even when he’s a dick, he’s still kind of lovable, and his story feels believable in the midst of  Book of Love ‘s mostly silly developments. If this doesn’t lead to a streak of endearing romcoms where Claflin and his majestic hair have the chance to shine, I’ll be extremely disappointed.

Memorable Dialogue: There are a handful of endearing lines in  Book of Love , but Echegui’s delivery of “a lot of men would rather be killed by a monkey than, you know, admit they were scared” stuck with me.

Sex and Skin: There’s a lot of discussion of steamy sex thanks to Maria’s rewrite, and a long-awaited explosive scene between our two leads down the line (though it’s pretty tastefully shot!).

Our Take:  Book of Love  feels like it was made in the early aughts, and that is some of the highest praise I can give a romcom. From its outlandish story to the lost-in-translation shenanigans and the fabulous chemistry between its two leads, there’s so much to love here. Enemies-to-lovers is a classic trope, and it’s executed in such a fun way here, combining Henry’s utter cluelessness and uptight demeanor with Maria’s delightfully sharp tongue and big heart. It’s not often we see a romcom that has genuine sexual tension these days, but there is electrifying chemistry between Claflin and Echegui, and it’s a big reason why  Book of Love  is so much fun to watch. We’ve been starved for a romcom so unabashedly itself, light-hearted and sexy and relatively low-stakes. The building tension, the almost-kisses, the satisfying character development… it’s such good stuff.

Despite it being a welcome presence on streaming, there’s admittedly a lot that’s silly about Book of Love ; its premise barely works when examined closely, some of its characters are a little cartoonish (looking at you, Pedro), the depiction of the publishing world is a little less than realistic, and the drama with Maria’s ex feels like a bit of an afterthought. None of this is enough to stop it from being worth your while, however. What’s at the core of Book of Love  – a compelling love story and a confrontation of the misogynistic stereotypes that declare steamy romance novels smut and stoic love stories the higher art – is genuinely refreshing and a delight to watch unfold.

Our Call: STREAM IT.  Book of Love  is delightful romcom fodder, exactly the kind of outlandish, entertaining fluff we could use more of these days.

Will you stream or skip the goofy rom-com #BookofLove on @PrimeVideo ? #SIOSI — Decider (@decider) February 8, 2022

Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines, hogging the mic at karaoke, and thirst-tweeting. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski .

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reviews for book of love

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reviews for book of love

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Book of Love by Kelly Link

reviews for book of love

There are two things to be said up front about Kelly Link’s much-anticipated first novel. One is that it’s not what you’re expecting – although that’s pretty much what we do expect from any Kelly Link story – and the other is that there’s a reason why the title is The Book of Love rather than something like The Book of Ghosts and Goddesses , though both play significant roles in the story, as do various witches, shapechangers, and magical portals. For that matter, a good part of the narrative could have been called Magic for Beginners , since the mysteriously resurrected teens who are the main characters find themselves in possession of magical powers they don’t quite know what to do with, so naturally they get in trouble. Is it all an elaborate metafictional title scheme on Link’s part? Stranger things happen.

Okay, enough of that. The real reason this long but engrossing novel is titled The Book of Love , I suspect, is that like all good titles, it offers us a significant guidepost in how to ap­proach the tale. Drawing on traditions from ghost stories, romance novels, coming-of-age tales, posthumous fantasies, horror, and epic fantasy (a familiar-sounding plot line involves trying to keep a powerful ring – or maybe a cup, or a coin – out of the hands of a malevolent goddess), it repeatedly circles back to considerations of the varieties and challenges of love. What that means, for readers expecting one of the many genre ele­ments to take over and propel the plot in a simple, linear direction, is that the novel may seem almost leisurely in its first half, taking its time to develop the relationships between the limited number of main characters and to lay out in convincing and evocative prose the small Massachusetts town of Lovesend, which is the main setting. There are, rest assured, plenty of fireworks as the novel rap­idly accelerates in its second half, including some stunning set pieces involving shapechanging, du­eling magics, and a spectacular conjured temple, but the core of the novel remains its exploration not only of romantic attachments and rivalries, but the sometimes problematical love between siblings (particularly two sisters who seem to be always trying to out-snark each other), between parents or grandparents and children, between friends and allies, between teachers and students, between musical bandmates (the music allusions veer from Barry Manilow to John Cage), and per­haps most touchingly between an older brother and a young sister who died in childhood. All this is presented with Link’s characteristic incisive­ness and wit – not to mention misdirection – in prose that can be simultaneously hilarious and haunting.

The story opens with an intriguing, if fairly straightforward, ghost-story mystery. A few days before Christmas 2014, three teenagers – Daniel, Mo, and Laura – find themselves in the classroom of their high school music teacher, Mr. Anabin, and learn that they had died nearly a year earlier, though their bodies were never found and no one seems to know or remember what happened. Their friends and family have been led to believe they were off in Ireland on a music scholarship, rather like being told your old dog is happily liv­ing on a farm upstate. Not too surprisingly, Mr. Anabin reveals himself to be not just a colorless music teacher, but rather an ancient figure whose partnership with the equally enigmatic Bogomil – who also shows up in the classroom – has much to do with why the kids were brought back in the first place, and with what is expected of them. Complicating matters further, the kids discover small physical differences from when they were alive, suggesting they’ve been imperfectly re­constituted, and an ominous, shapechanging figure named Bowie has somehow slipped back with them. Soon more supernatural figures are introduced, including murderous enemies who have chased each other across the centuries and, most importantly, a fearsome, malign goddess named Malo Mogge, whose quest for a long-lost magical amulet sets off many of those fireworks. (In a characteristically Linkian undercutting of pretension, though, Laura’s first reaction upon meeting her is ‘‘What kind of name was that? You might as well call yourself Bad Intention Reptile Shoes’’.)

As if to remind us that The Book of Love is centrally about its characters, Link begins each chapter with a heading like ‘‘The Book of Laura’’ or ‘‘The Book of Susannah’’ – Laura’s surviving sister and Daniel’s girlfriend. While there are something like 20 disparate viewpoints, most of the narrative is carried by the four principal characters, who turn out to be far more interest­ing than mere pawns in a cosmic struggle. Daniel faces unresolved issues with his stepfather (who has also returned after apparently abandoning the family) and his grief over a sister who died in childhood. Mo’s grandmother was a pioneer­ing Black author of bestselling romance novels who helped reshape the town by sponsoring a series of statues celebrating accomplished Black women, while Laura and Susannah’s mother is a dedicated nurse at a local natal intensive care unit. As these characters develop their own tales, along with those of secondary figures like the owner of a popular local bar called the Cliff Hangar and a cook who works there, Lovesend begins to emerge as a vividly textured small-town community, balancing the tale’s more baroque elements – even as it grows increasingly evident, with all that magic flying around, that not all its residents are exactly real.

I suspect there will be some commentary about the length of The Book of Love , both because Link has made her reputation with precisely crafted shorter fiction and because decades of genre publishing have conditioned us to expect that any fat fantasy novel will offer vast panoramas, scores of characters, elaborate magic systems, epic battles, and clothes that are way better than our own. And indeed Link provides some dandy cosmic power struggles as a significant subtext to a novel which very nearly observes the classical unities of time and place, but she’s really not that interested in genre protocols. Considered simply as general fiction – which is how the novel seems to be marketed – the length and attention to detail of the novel begin to seem less unusual (recent novels by Jonathan Franzen and Barbara Kingsolver, for comparison, have clocked in at close to 600 pages each, and who noticed?). Link is not the first writer to note the sometimes hazy line between love stories and ghost or horror stories, but few have probed it in such rich detail, or with such wit. As a fantasy, The Book of Love may seem to take a while cashing in its genre chips, but simply as a novel, it’s haunting, immersive, and at times surpassingly beautiful.

Gary K. Wolfe is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University and a reviewer for Locus magazine since 1991. His reviews have been collected in Soundings (BSFA Award 2006; Hugo nominee), Bearings (Hugo nominee 2011), and Sightings (2011), and his Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature (Wesleyan) received the Locus Award in 2012. Earlier books include The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction (Eaton Award, 1981), Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever (with Ellen Weil, 2002), and David Lindsay (1982). For the Library of America, he edited American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s in 2012, with a similar set for the 1960s forthcoming. He has received the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association, the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Special World Fantasy Award for criticism. His 24-lecture series How Great Science Fiction Works appeared from The Great Courses in 2016. He has received six Hugo nominations, two for his reviews collections and four for The Coode Street Podcast, which he has co-hosted with Jonathan Strahan for more than 300 episodes. He lives in Chicago.

This review and more like it in the December and January 2023 issue of Locus .

©Locus Magazine. Copyrighted material may not be republished without permission of LSFF.

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640 pp? Ay, chihuahua! Mines!

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THE BOOK OF LOVE

by Kelly Link ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 13, 2024

This book has many enchantments and moving moments, but it would have been better, and more magical, if it were shorter.

A master of short fantasy offers her long-anticipated first novel.

Link has a genius for combining the mundane with the uncanny, diving into the dark currents where dreams grow and bringing up magic-encrusted jetsam, pearlescent ideas that coil and shock. The story takes place in a coastal New England town with the beautifully ambiguous, typically Link name of Lovesend. (Love’s end? Love send?) There, four teenagers—sisters Susannah and Laura, their bandmate Daniel, and Susannah’s friend Mo—are caught up in a struggle with deities who control access to death. As the book opens, Laura, Daniel, and Mo have been dead for months; in her grief, Susannah smashes her sister’s guitar. Soon, the teens, along with a mysterious companion, return from the dead, reanimated by their high school music teacher, Mr. Anabin. Another supernatural person, Bogomil, appears, taking various human and animal forms (a wolf, a rabbit). He writes a message on the music classroom blackboard with his fingernail: “2 RETURN 2 REMAIN.” Mr. Anabin gives the revenants a series of tasks, which they believe will allow two of them to stay alive while the other two, they presume, will die again. As they perform the tasks, readers get to know their families and personal struggles: Laura and Susannah’s father left the family when they were little, and the two contend with sibling rivalry and family roles (Laura’s the good girl, Susannah’s the rebel); Daniel, who has a compulsion to be liked, is a loving, caretaking big brother to a gaggle of mixed-race siblings; Mo, a gay orphan and one of the few Black kids in town, has lost his beloved grandmother while he was dead. Meanwhile, increasingly dramatic magical events transform their hometown—the weather goes hot and cold, carousel horses turn into wolves, the goddess of the moon erects a temple in the middle of the bay—as the characters rush endlessly back and forth, arriving at last at an almost mechanically tidy ending. Although all the fabulous Link elements are here, at more than 600 pages, the story is unwieldy and overexplained.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780812996586

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

LITERARY FICTION | FANTASY | PARANORMAL FICTION | GENERAL SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY | GENERAL FICTION

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More by Kelly Link

WHITE CAT, BLACK DOG

BOOK REVIEW

by Kelly Link ; illustrated by Shaun Tan

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by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson & Kelly Link & Robin Wasserman

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by Kelly Link

FOURTH WING

FOURTH WING

From the empyrean series , vol. 1.

by Rebecca Yarros ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2023

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

FANTASY | EPIC FANTASY | GENERAL FANTASY | GENERAL SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

More In The Series

IRON FLAME

by Rebecca Yarros

More by Rebecca Yarros

THE THINGS WE LEAVE UNFINISHED

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

by Rebecca Yarros ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

FANTASY | EPIC FANTASY | GENERAL SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

FOURTH WING

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Book of love, common sense media reviewers.

reviews for book of love

Charming romcom has partial nudity, some strong language.

Book of Love Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Love is a powerful force that can lead to both goo

The two main characters, Henry and Maria, are show

Characters are a mix of White English, White Ameri

Death of parents is mentioned and there is referen

Characters kiss and hug, and are seen in their und

Occasional language that ranges from "f--k," "ass,

Mention is made of book sales and hitting bestsell

Characters drink beer, wine, and spirits in bars,

Parents need to know that Book of Love is a British-Mexican romantic comedy with some mild sexual references and suggestive behavior, and occasional strong language. The movie involves a classic odd couple storyline. Henry Copper (Sam Claflin) is a British author on a book tour of Mexico, who discovers his…

Positive Messages

Love is a powerful force that can lead to both good and bad. It is important to stay open-minded to new experiences rather than judging them based on other past events. Remaining true to yourself is important, but collaboration and compromise can also bring great rewards.

Positive Role Models

The two main characters, Henry and Maria, are shown to be kind and responsible, both in their professional lives and toward family. Maria in particular is a strong female role model, who is portrayed as hardworking, caring, and also very capable at tasks often associated with men. Her ex, on the flip side, is seen to be selfish, manipulative, and unwilling to take responsibility, which reinforces some absent father stereotypes.

Diverse Representations

Characters are a mix of White English, White American, and Mexican. The Mexican characters are played mostly by Mexican actors although lead character, Maria, is played by a Spanish actor. The main characters fall into some stereotypes -- the stuffy British man and the fiery Latina woman -- but also have complexities within those. Maria is a strong female character who speaks her mind, solves problems, and carries out stereotypically male-oriented tasks, such as changing tires, with ease. Henry's U.S. publisher Jen is also shown to be a strong, confident, if slightly selfish woman. Maria's ex falls into a negative absent father stereotype as well as that of a fiery Latino man to tie in with the dramatic telenovela structure. A gay man is portrayed as flamboyant, which ingrains a very specific and overused stereotype of homosexual men.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Death of parents is mentioned and there is reference to a dead dog. A character threatens to kill another and a chase scene ensues, though this is very much played for comedy with no real sense of threat. A book is thrown at a character's head, knocking them to the floor, but they are unharmed.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Characters kiss and hug, and are seen in their underwear. There is the implication of sex, with characters shown naked under a blanket the following morning. Passing reference is made to pornography. Excerpts from a book are read aloud that include sexual scenes, and partial nudity is shown on book covers.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Occasional language that ranges from "f--k," "ass," and "butt" to "bloody," "hell," and "cow." "God" is used as a casual exclamation.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Mention is made of book sales and hitting bestseller lists. Characters are encouraged to write a second novel to make more money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer, wine, and spirits in bars, but are not seen to be intoxicated.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Book of Love is a British-Mexican romantic comedy with some mild sexual references and suggestive behavior, and occasional strong language. The movie involves a classic odd couple storyline. Henry Copper ( Sam Claflin ) is a British author on a book tour of Mexico, who discovers his book has been rewritten by his translator, Maria (Veronica Echegui). The romantic scenes include kissing, hugging, and the implication of sex, as well as partial nudity on book covers and the reading aloud of sexy passages. There is some use of "f--k" and "ass," but this is only on occasion. The movie includes fleeting reference to the death of parents as well as a dead dog. Characters are seen drinking alcohol in bars but never to excess. There are some stereotypes. Henry is very much in the mould of a stoic Englishman who refuses to show emotion. While Maria is depicted as having a fiery temper, although she can also be seen as a strong female role model. Though predictable in places and sticking closely to a generic romcom structure, the movie is charming and has frequent moments of humor that will likely appeal to teens and adults alike. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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What's the Story?

In BOOK OF LOVE, British author Henry Copper ( Sam Claflin ) is surprised to discover his failing book about sensible love is a big hit in Mexico. As he joins the novel's translator, Maria (Veronica Echegui), on a tour across the country, he begins to suspect this fiery hit version bears very little resemblance to his original more restrained words.

Is It Any Good?

Lighthearted, charming, and genuinely funny, this romcom may not have written the book on originality. But Book of Love' s fun take on the odd couple thrown together to keep up appearances is surprisingly enjoyable. Claflin is likable as the stiff-upper-lipped yet cluelessly bumbling Englishman -- think Hugh Grant with designer facial hair. But it is Echegui's passionate, frustrated Maria that really adds the spark here. She brings the heart, the energy, and the sarcastic reality check that keeps the film from becoming too schmaltzy, despite corny interludes like: "She rewrote it, then she rewrote me."

Tying the plot in with the idea of a telenovela works well, and is admirably underplayed until the end, where the film allows itself a little fun with the concept. Elsewhere the plot borders on cliche and no scene will come as any great surprise for those who have watched a few romantic comedies in their time. But the sense of fun and the feminist exasperation that Echequi brings -- both as the woman writing a book for which she isn't given credit, and as the person exhausted by juggling the needs of the men around her ­-- gives Book of Love enough charisma and edge to warm the most sensible of hearts.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how romance and sex was portrayed in Book of Love . How did Henry and Maria's relationship change their perception of what love is? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

Discuss the strong language in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?

There are two strong female roles in the film -- Maria and Henry's U.S. publisher Jen. How were they portrayed and how did this compare to the roles of women in other romcoms you might have seen? Would you describe either of them as a positive role model ? What makes a good role model?

Most of the film is set in Mexico. How was the culture portrayed and how did it compare to other on-screen representations of the country you may have seen?

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming : February 4, 2022
  • Cast : Sam Claflin , Verónica Echegui , Fernando Becerril
  • Director : Analeine Cal y Mayor
  • Inclusion Information : Female directors, Latino actors
  • Studio : Amazon Prime Video
  • Genre : Romance
  • Topics : Great Girl Role Models
  • Character Strengths : Communication , Teamwork
  • Run time : 106 minutes
  • MPAA rating : NR
  • Last updated : February 7, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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A still from Book of Love shows Verónica Echegui's Maria with a pensive expression, looking downwards with her lower face resting on the back of her hand.  Sam Claflin's Henry is facing the camera, looking at her with raised eyebrows and a furrowed brow.

Book of Love review – charmless romcom is a waste of potential

Sam Claflin plays an uptight novelist on a Mexican book tour in a romantic comedy short on romance and comedy

E ver since it was insisted that Netflix had single-handledly resurrected the romantic comedy despite the general hideousness of the romcoms they were releasing, streamers have churned them out by the dozen, quality be damned.

As Valentine’s Day looms, with Netflix still basking in the success of last month’s The Royal Treatment , the next week will see the teen sequel Tall Girl 2 and Turkish offering Love Tactics also added to its catalogue. At the same time, Amazon will launch the Jenny Slate-Charlie Day comedy I Want You Back and Universal will give Marry Me, J-Lo’s glossy return to the genre, a hybrid cinema-Peacock launch. It’s a theoretical feast for fans, but here’s naively hoping that they’re a damn sight better than this week’s misfiring trifle Book of Love (dropping on Amazon in the US and on Sky in the UK), a colourless background watch that never once attempts to make itself worthy of more focused attention.

It’s a shame, as there’s a decent enough set-up. Henry (Sam Claflin) is an uptight British writer whose latest book, The Sensible Heart – a sexless and meek romance novel appealing to precisely no one – has flopped in his homeland. But he’s encouraged to hear from his agent (Lucy Punch, bizarrely sporting an American accent) that it’s been a hit in Mexico and so he’s sent on a book tour, partnered with Maria (Verónica Echegui), the woman who translated his work. It soon transpires though that Maria did more than just translate – she virtually rewrote it, adding the heat and eroticism his original failed to include. The two then go from sparring partners to lovers but without the necessary legwork to make us believe a lick of it.

Hailing from BuzzFeed studios (which means that the site already features an article declaring it “one of the best romcoms” based solely on the trailer) but co-scripted by novelist and Veep writer David Quantick, Book of Love arrives with a strange mismatched pedigree. But the end result features none of the poppy vim of the former or the sharp wit of the latter. It is a flatly directed and utterly, aggressively un-engaging piece of fluff that only serves to remind us of other, better and more picturesque examples of the travelogue romantic comedy (save yourself and rewatch Only You, French Kiss or Two for the Road instead). There’s certainly nothing wrong with sticking to the familiar genre beats we all know so well, but there needs to be a light-footed charm ushering us from one to the next, and director Analeine Cal y Mayor fails to muster up even a shred of it.

While Claflin sticks to a lazily traced-over impression of the buttoned-up romcom Englishman archetype, there is at least some energy from the other side as Echegui tries hard to make her single mother turned wannabe novelist into a real human being. She’s easily the best thing here and one wonders what a film centered around her slightly more textured character might have been, unshackled from the rote machinations that push her into a hard-to-stomach romance with a mostly unlikable lead. The script forces them together far too fast, all tension melting despite a stark dearth of chemistry, and clumsy last-act attempts at conflict feel minor and haphazard. Romantic comedies are expected to be contrived and far-fetched – it’s a genre that allows for a lot of exceptions – but they really shouldn’t be this dull.

Book of Love is now available in the US on Amazon Prime and will be released on Sky Cinema on 12 February

  • Romance films
  • Sam Claflin
  • Comedy films

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Other Media Review

Movie review: book of love.

by Carrie S · Feb 18, 2022 at 4:00 am · View all 6 comments

Movie Review: Book of Love

Book of Love

by Analeine Cal y Mayor and David Quantick

Unsuccessful English writer Henry’s novel sells to no one. But when his book is suddenly a surprise hit in Mexico, his publicist insists he travel there on a promotional tour. Upon arrival, a confused Henry discovers the reason behind his novel’s popularity – Mexican translator Maria has rewritten his dull book into a steamy erotic novel. As tempers flare between them, the sparks begin to fly.

I have a teensy crush on Sam Claflin but even my fondness for his blue puppy eyes could not save Book of Love . Book of Love relies on very tired stereotypes and so would like to inform you that White Englishmen are stuffy and repressed while Mexican women are fiery and in touch with their sexuality and gay men are funny and Mexican men are afraid of looking vulnerable.

Book of Love is formulaic, which is usually fine in a rom-com as far as I’m concerned. But there is a “Henry learns to use social media” montage and a travel montage and a writing together montage and a writing solo montage. No one needs this many montages, people, even in a rom-com.

The characters and story are bland. Things that should be actual conflicts evaporate and are replaced with ridiculous conflicts. For a movie that is at least somewhat about celebrating sex, the actual sex is surprisingly coy. Even the end is boring despite taking a telenovela turn.

BUT, I admit to watching at least two scenes that made me laugh out loud. I enjoyed the dynamic between Henry and Maria’s son. I appreciated the fact that when people talk to each other in Spanish in the movie, they speak Spanish (there are subtitles). I was pleased that the movie falls consistently on the side of romance as a genre although given that the entire plot revolves around Maria turning Henry’s book into a romance novel, I am BAFFLED by the fact that the phrase “romance novel” is never uttered in the movie.

This is an hour and forty-six minutes I’ll never get back, not counting the minutes in which I actually laughed. It’s boring, it relies on broad, tired, and offensive stereotypes, and is ultimately bland and forgettable. Skip it. It’s not worth the popcorn.

Add Your Comment →

What a shame! 🙁 There are so many rom-coms I want to love, and instead I read a review or see a clip and think … eh … no.

I like Sam Claflin AND love the stuffy person learns to loosen up troupe and this was a DNF for me. As Carrie says, a waste of time for sure.

Oof, yeah, just reading the plot description clued me into the notion that this was gonna end up being claptrap. Good work, Carrie S.

Wasn’t this the plot of some other work (book? movie?) but in that one, the translator was (I vaguely remember) Korean and changed the plot to be about defecting from North Korea? And the author only found out when went on book tour?

Disappointing waste of an idea and Sam Claflin’s face, it seems. Shame.

When I pressed “play” on this movie — I didn’t even watch a trailer — I was just going to go for it cause it sounded fun. And it was awful. I couldn’t agree with Carrie’s review more. Every single word. However — I’d like to add that the end makes no sense whatsoever…

It’s like in the Arrested Development episode, Ocean Walker when Maeby is trying to figure out how to end the movie she’s working on.

Maeby: …It doesn’t have an ending. He’s in L.A., she’s in Japan. How do I get these two characters together?

Rita: Maybe they could walk.

Maeby: Across the ocean?

Rita: If it’s not too deep.

Cause that’s how I felt this movie ended. They metaphorically walked across the ocean.

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Book of Love (2004)

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COMMENTS

  1. Book of Love movie review & film summary (2022)

    Powered by JustWatch It feels sort of mean trashing "Book of Love," a bilingual romantic comedy that offers a clever premise but never truly delivers on it in satisfying fashion.

  2. Book Review: 'The Book of Love,' by Kelly Link

    Reviewing "The Book of Love" feels like trying to describe a dream. It's profoundly beautiful, provokes intense emotion, offers up what feel like rooted, incontrovertible truths — but as soon...

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    Review Book Reviews Kelly Link's debut novel 'The Book of Love' is magical, confusing, heartfelt, strange February 15, 202410:53 AM ET By Gabino Iglesias Random House

  4. 'Book of Love' Review: Imperfect Yet Lovable Rom-Com

    Feb 4, 2022 12:00am PT 'Book of Love' Review: An Imperfect Yet Lovable Rom-Com of Modest Pleasures While Analeine Cal y Mayor's amiable romp doesn't master the screwball language, it still...

  5. The Book of Love review: Kelly Link's first novel shimmers ...

    The Book of Love, Kelly Link's first novel, is a love story, yes. It's also a ghost story, and a coming-of-age story, and a portrait of a small town. It's about magic and music and morality ...

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    Book of Love 2022, Romance/Comedy, 1h 46m 50% Tomatometer 42 Reviews 54% Audience Score 100+ Ratings What to know Critics Consensus The sweet promise of Book of Love's fun premise is left...

  7. 'Book of Love' Review: Lust (Eventually) in Translation

    Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. Watch on Amazon. A version of this article appears in print on , Section C, Page 8 of the New York edition with the headline: Book of Love. Order...

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    Book of Love is predictable, yet fun and it's worth sticking on if you want to cosy up and escape reality for a couple of hours. Full Review | Jun 11, 2022 Tara Bennett Paste Magazine...

  9. The Book of Love

    The Book of Love. by Kelly Link. In the long-awaited debut novel from bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kelly Link, three teenagers become pawns in a supernatural power struggle. THE BOOK OF LOVE showcases Kelly Link at the height of her powers, channeling potent magic and attuned to all varieties of love --- from friendship to ...

  10. Book of Love (2022)

    5.5 /10 3.8K YOUR RATING Rate Play trailer 2:16 2 Videos 25 Photos Comedy Romance A British writer realizes that his novel is a success in Mexico because a peculiar translation of it. Director Analeine Cal y Mayor Writers Analeine Cal y Mayor Geoff Deane David Quantick Stars Sam Claflin Remmie Milner Antonia Clarke See production info at IMDbPro

  11. The Book of Love Movie Review

    Parents' Guide to The Book of Love By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer age 14+ Uneven drama about two lost souls has swearing, drug use. Movie PG-13 2017 104 minutes Add your rating Parents Say: age 15+ 2 reviews Any Iffy Content? Read more Talk with Your Kids About… Read more A Lot or a Little?

  12. Book of Love (2022)

    5/10 Funny... Thanos_Alfie 7 February 2022 "Book of Love" is a Comedy - Romance movie in which we watch a writer traveling to Mexico in order to promote even more his book after becoming a best seller there. Everything changes on his book tour since some important information reveal.

  13. Book Of Love Review: Sam Claflin Leads Safe & Uneven Romantic Comedy

    Book Of Love Review: Sam Claflin Leads Safe & Uneven Romantic Comedy By Ferdosa Published Feb 5, 2022 The film doesn't lean into the telenovela elements that appear prominently in the third act, leaving viewers wondering where this energy was before. Sam Claflin has carved out a nice little niche for himself as a romantic leading man.

  14. 'Book of Love' Movie Amazon Prime Review: Stream It Or Skip It?

    Despite it being a welcome presence on streaming, there's admittedly a lot that's silly about Book of Love; its premise barely works when examined closely, some of its characters are a little...

  15. Book Marks reviews of The Book of Love by Kelly Link

    The Book of Love Kelly Link Buy Now Indiebound Publisher Random House Date February 13, 2024 Fiction Literary Speculative With them in the room is their previously unremarkable high school music teacher, who seems to know something about their disappearance—and what has brought them back again.

  16. Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Book of Love by Kelly Link

    The Book of Love, Kelly Link (Random House 978--81299-658-6, $31.00, 640pp, hc) Febru­ary 2024.. There are two things to be said up front about Kelly Link's much-anticipated first novel. One is that it's not what you're expecting - although that's pretty much what we do expect from any Kelly Link story - and the other is that there's a reason why the title is The Book of Love ...

  17. THE BOOK OF LOVE

    Reviews FICTION THE BOOK OF LOVE by Kelly Link ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 13, 2024 This book has many enchantments and moving moments, but it would have been better, and more magical, if it were shorter. bookshelf shop now A master of short fantasy offers her long-anticipated first novel.

  18. Book of Love Movie Review

    Parents' Guide to Book of Love By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer age 13+ Charming romcom has partial nudity, some strong language. Movie NR 2022 106 minutes Add your rating Parents Say: Not yet rated Add your rating Any Iffy Content? Read more Talk with Your Kids About… Read more A Lot or a Little?

  19. Book of Love review

    Book of Love review - charmless romcom is a waste of potential Sam Claflin plays an uptight novelist on a Mexican book tour in a romantic comedy short on romance and comedy Benjamin Lee Fri...

  20. The Book of Love by Kelly Link

    The Book of Love Kelly Link 3.54 284 ratings211 reviews The Book of Love showcases Kelly Link at the height of her powers, channeling potent magic and attuned to all varieties of love—from friendship to romance to abiding family ties—with her trademark compassion, wit, and literary derring-do.

  21. Movie Review: Book of Love

    D+. Unsuccessful English writer Henry's novel sells to no one. But when his book is suddenly a surprise hit in Mexico, his publicist insists he travel there on a promotional tour. Upon arrival, a confused Henry discovers the reason behind his novel's popularity - Mexican translator Maria has rewritten his dull book into a steamy erotic novel.

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    As the friendship blossoms, romantic feelings develop between the wife and the boy. It's a provocative story with contemporary relevance. Withy a backdrop of New Age philosophy "Book Of Love" explores the impact of this unsettling romance on the three individuals. The acting of the three leads is fine.

  23. Savannah Guthrie explains why she wrote a book about her ...

    Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of NBC News' "Today" show, is out today with "Mostly What God Does," a candid account of her connection to God and a gentle invitation to "come as you are" to faith — all told with what she calls "nothing but my curiosity and a receptive heart." Why it matters: The book "is by far the most personal and vulnerable thing I've ever undertaken," Guthrie, 52, tells Axios.