I wrote this review for HarperCollins early this year.
As a single, forty-something female, it’s frightening how much I relate to fellow Kingstonian, Diane Schoemperlen’s excellent new novel (January 2008), At A Loss For Words (A Post-Romantic Novel). I could swear this is a work of non-fiction, allowing readers a peak into Schoemperlen’s real life because it’s so full of truth. I figure that if I am deeply moved by it because of having had such a similar experience in dealing with a long distance relationship with a man who very quickly into our getting to know each other (after we had slept together of course) suddenly became so busy and had so many excuses as to why he wasn’t calling, emailing or driving the two hours east to see me – then I’m sure there are many women out there who feel the same way.
This is a WONDERFUL, well-written, humourous book about the desperate nature of human relationships and how we all question our sanity when we’re in love. Diane has managed to write just about everything that I felt about my most recent relationship (and others), although I’m sure I wasn’t quite as obsessive about writing to him as her unnamed character is! It was smart to write the characters without names because the reader can insert whatever name she or he want and suddenly, the story could be theirs. Remarkably, I even had the same Mr. Wonderful doll that my best friend gave me. However, after ending the relationship – because I found out that I wasn’t the only woman he was dating, but in fact he was sleeping with at least three other women at the same time which shed a bright light on his many excuses: why he was tired so often, couldn’t find the time to spend an entire day with me and was a pretty lousy lay – I threw out Mr. Wonderful because I realized that he doesn’t exist.
All men lie to the women in their lives. All of them. And we lie to them too. Diane knows that and has managed to maintain a sense of humour about the sad truth of it all. The way in which she writes about ideas to cure writer’s block and her use of references to horoscopes, websites and music all add to the contemporary realism of this story.
I will recommend this book to every woman that I know who is out there dating or thinking about it! How the human race manages to evolve, I do not know. Diane, call me! I’m sure we could talk!