I was provided an ARC of this book from the Story Plant in exchange for my honest review.
I’m always fascinated to see how authors view different parts of our society, and which pieces they choose to focus on for their work. So seeing a book from the Mad Men era coming out, focusing on a woman who was bound and determined to make her way through a male-driven field, I was all in favor to see this kind of adventure.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite deliver the way I was hoping.
The story follows the relationship of Maddie, our industrious woman maneuvering through the publishing field and art direction, and Rob, a talented and successful person in said field. Though every circumstance seems to push Maddie and Rob apart, their chemistry is undeniable and they cling to each other through each trial that life throws at them. From New York to Miami, Amsterdam to London, this story is filled with twists and turns that will always keep you guessing.
…Sounds good, yeah?
Well, if you read “always keep you guessing” and you finished it with “when this book is ever going to end,” then you had it in one. As I told a colleague when I finished reading the book, it would be like if you took the mundanity of any general slice-of-life story, and the unlikeable characters of THE GREAT GATSBY, and made a book out of it.
Rob is a complete and utter loser of the highest degree. He has an incredibly bad relationship with his wife, and believes that because he’s a man, it’s his right to go out and have whatever women he wants, and the fact that he’s married is irrelevant. (Not that the women could do the same. Oh no. They “belong” to him. He goes utterly insane when he suspects Maddie’s been around another man.) He drinks constantly, he never listens to anyone but himself, and despite all of this machismo and “strength,” he still fails to ever put his foot down when his other guy friends push him to do something he doesn’t want to do.
On the other hand, Maddie–who is supposed to be this Strong Independent Woman Who Don’t Need No Man–is anything but. She’s determined in her work, yes. But about halfway through, she stops using her talent to push herself forward and uses low-cut shirts and short skirts. She doesn’t stand up to her friends, her family, CERTAINLY not Rob… It’s as if you imagine Hamlet, taking 5 acts to finally kill the king like he was told to in the first scene…and just give it to Maddie, who spends a good 400 pages supposedly trying to get away from a man she never should have been with in the first place. (The sex is just spellbinding, y’all. I mean, he’s Just So Charming And Seductive.) Even the ending, where Maddie’s grown some element of a spine, is lackluster since you can see all the potentials for this to happen all over again written all over every wall. It’s awful.
There’s not a character in here who I consistently liked, aside from perhaps Rob’s children. Everyone else is immoral and don’t care, and entirely self-centered. NOW. Much like GATSBY was an image of the time it was written in, which is why all the characters don’t seem to have a point to exist, I LOVE YOU TODAY is an image of the Mad Men era late 60s and early 70s. There’s strong reason to believe that this was the way things were run, and it’s a very faithful interpretation to the time.
But I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. If your readers don’t care about a single one of your characters, why are you writing the story? Much like my frustration with HIGHWAY 13 TO MANHATTAN, I don’t keep reading until the very ending, hoping to see everything work out. By then, I hope everything crashes and burns because they’ve both screwed up enough to deserve it.
What saves this book from being a one-star rating is that it’s very nicely written. Gloster has a good way with words, and she’s very descriptive. I could see the world as it was happening, and imagine all of the advertising elements despite not knowing anything about the field. While the characters may all descend into horrific chaos, you see it happening very clearly.
I think this book could be 100-150 pages shorter and I wouldn’t miss what had been cut. I’d love to see something else this author writes, though. She’s got a good voice and a good idea. It just didn’t quite happen this time around.
Rating: ** (Not Impressed)
I LOVE YOU TODAY hits shelves April 18th, 2017.