Beautiful Messy Love
What happens when love and loyalty collide?
When football star Nick Harding hobbles into the Black Salt Cafe the morning after the night before, he is served by Anna, a waitress with haunted-looking eyes and no interest in footballers, famous or otherwise. Nick is instantly drawn to this exotic, intelligent girl. But a relationship between them risks shame for her conservative refugee family and backlash for Nick that could ruin his career.
Meanwhile, Nick’s sister, Lily, is struggling to finish her medical degree. When she meets Toby, it seems that for the first time she is following her heart, not the expectations of others. Yet what starts out as a passionate affair with a man still grieving after his wife’s death slips quickly into dangerous dependency.
Scarred by tragedy each in their own way, these warm, hopeful couples must overcome prejudice and heartbreak to prove just how much they will give for beautiful messy love.
What AusRom Today thought:
You just know when a book is going to be brilliant.
Sometimes it’s a character who you instantly connect with.
Sometimes it’s simply a sentence that hits you with such clarity that you have to re-read it a few times then close the book and just breathe.
Sometimes it’s a challenge that the character endures that just resonates. Not because you understand it from a personal perspective but because the author presents it with such detail and empathy that you can’t not be affected.
Rarely, very rarely, is it all these things and more.
Tess Woods has created a stunning novel in Beautiful Messy Love.
Told from the standpoint of four characters: Lily, Toby, Anna, and Nick, the story develops quickly yet realistically. As the title suggests this is a novel that encapsulates the beautiful and often messy business of love.
Not to give much away, Lily and Toby’s relationship develops from an unusual chain of events and it is certainly a passionate love affair and one that sees each character develop greatly as individuals. For Lily and Toby we see how one pivotal love or relationship has the power to set us on a different life path and that the mess of that love can actually quieten the chaos inside of us. Theirs is an important relationship and one that though less challenging than Anna and Nick’s offers just as much understanding and scope as to the complexities of love.
Anna and Nick are the epitome of opposites attract: Anna, an Egyptian refugee who has experienced far more than is fair in her 19 years and Nick the carefree borderline-playboy footballer who falls for her. Whilst Woods presents their relationship with great care she doesn’t shy away from showcasing the cultural challenges that the relationship faces and that I think shows the depth of Woods’ own life experience and storytelling ability.
The ensemble of characters who support the central characters add flair, fun, and depth to the story with each of them being presented uniquely and with consideration for how they contribute to the greater story.
Importantly, Woods’ explores the cross-cultural challenges faced by many Australians as well as the plight of asylum seekers and refugees who are so desperately seeking the safety and security that our great nation can provide. What I liked most was that these aspects of the story were presented with such empathy that it never once felt like a lecture or an agenda being pushed.
Beautiful Messy Love is a truly stunning read that not only delivers delightful tales of love and romance but also breathes life in to cultural conversations that deserve attention and that I believe many people will identify with. Not since Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi has an Australian author presented the cross-cultural challenges of new Australians quite so beautifully. Beautiful Messy Love is my pick for 2017 book of the year.