Church takes the very notion of the classic romance story and flips it on it’s head with this fresh and original novel.
I was a little sceptical when Sleeping with Mozart first found it’s way in to my hands, initially I thought it was a classic chic late story, this not being my style I braced myself for something, I assumed wouldn’t suit my tastes, How nice it is then to be proved wrong.
Far from being another classic chic lit story Anthea Church instead creates an honest and touching depiction of love and all of it’s attending complexities. She does this whilst creating a protagonist, Dorcas, who is charming, endearing and also at times entertainingly eccentric.Church takes a classic tale of heartbreak and gives it a refreshingly new lease of life. She adds the depth and insight very often missing from other books of it’s kind and she gives real heart to the story through her touching and sentimental take on love.
When Dorcas’s lover Jamie calls of their relationship, telling her she is too young for him and telling her that she needs to date other men, in order to see the bigger picture, Dorcas finds herself at a loss. Adamant that he is the only man for her whilst also painfully aware that he has strictly instructed her that they should cease contact, Dorcas, the extreme self examiner and self improver, must pick herself up and carry on.
Following Jamie’s instructions Dorcas sets out on a mission to try and meet and essentially date a variety of different men. This is carried out with great reluctance by Dorcas who only wishes to return to Jamie. So she embarks upon her journey enlisting the help of the hilarious Tanya Wright of Bright lights a self exclaimed dating guru. What ensues is a entertaining series of dates which will keep all readers amused as Church creates a series of men designed to test Dorcas’s patience. I’m sure most readers approaching this book will find themselves relating to any one of the dates that Dorcas finds herself on, and occasionally like me laughing along the way at the witty way in which Dorcas retells the reader of her disastrous encounters.
The story is also set to the backdrop of Dorcas’s life as an English teacher. Faced with an imminent school inspection,which packs an exciting twist towards the end of the story (I wont say any more in case I ruin the story), Church portrays an intriguing vision of life for Dorcas as a teacher. The children within her classroom help add a funny and light hearted dimension to the book with their larger than life personalities. They also rather interestingly provide a novel look into love from a teenagers perspective. And for Dorcas, who sees much potential and scope for confidentiality within her girls, this becomes for a therapeutic way to explore the love she herself has had with Jamie.
Even though Dorcas may be struggling to regain herself after losing Jamie she comes alive in the classroom and it’s in these snippets when the reader can really see what a complex and engaging character Dorcas is. Yes she may be hopelessly in love with Jamie but she is also strong and self preserving and throughout the book she trudges along bravely facing up to her break up. Off course this was an essential must in the story as the sometimes sentimental tone and pleading declarations of love in Dorcas’s narrative can often become rather heavy. It is therefore a skill on Church’s behalf that she has created in Dorcas a women who is respectable in her attempts to survive this break up.
The book is written in a diary style narrative of Dorcas reliving her day to day to life for her imaginary audience; Jamie. She also spends great chunks of the books remembering various experiences and conversations she has had with Jamie and she replays them in her head looking back on these moments. Through this particular style dialogue is sparse. It is compensated for by the long rambling musings of Dorcas,which off course could potentially isolate a reader who is not a part of this intense love affair, but Church writes and depicts their relationship in such a way that we feel deep empathy and understanding for this love.
The story falls short of being the traditional chic lit that I expected and that I have heard other people describe it as. This is partly thanks to moments of raw and painful sadness that Dorcas describes within the book. I often found myself touched and moved by the depth of her feelings and her true sadness that the relationship had come to an end. Church writes in a believable and moving fashion and it’s easy to truly sympathise with Dorcas. These moments add a heaviness to the novel but also a more frank and honest betrayal of love. The story works because Church harmoniously balances humour and wit with strong, effective emotions.
On whole this novel is an original and sometimes philosophical look on love. It shows how deeply two peoples lives can become interwoven and how painful the separation of this bond can be.
Church steers clear of cliched characters and actually creates within Dorcas an individual protagonist. Dorcas is strong and ultimately brave enough to face the challenges of love but she is also refreshingly optimistic, trusting and forgiving in a world where women seem to have become hardened to love. I finished the book grateful for Dorcas and her open and optimistic approach to love.
For anyone looking for a love story with a new twist then this book is well worth a read. Have you read Sleeping with Mozart? If so what did you think?