(A while back I noticed an essay in Gather by Marisa de los Santos -"A message from Marisa de los Santos, author of Love Walked in". She wrote on her experiences on a book tour, plugging her novel, and also discussed the nature of love in a philosophical mode. It was well crafted, and so were her replies to commenters. What follows is a review of her novel which I just finished reading)
Love Walked in by Marisa de los Santos is an old-fashioned novel about a young woman awakening to the possibilities of love. I say "old-fashioned" in a positive sense- the clothes stay on, and people still worry about right and wrong even when they are passionate. Think Pride and Prejudice transplanted to suburban Pennsylvania. One day 31-year-old Cornelia looks over the bar at the coffee house where she works and sees a suave and dashing gentleman. Love walks in, though it is not the love she expects.
It is challenging to tell you about this book without spoiling surprises, as the surprises are part of the fun. The author explores many kinds of love in her tale. This novel is characterized by crisp dialog and well-structured scenes narrated from different characters. Cornelia adores clever and romantic old films like "Philadelphia Story", so it is fitting that she ends up living one. She begins the novel sidetracked in her life choices, but there are bottom line values about which she cares very deeply. To not wish her well in her journey of discovery could take a heart of stone.
De los Santos portrays love in various forms- familial, parental, and romantic- and her storytelling packs a punch. As a parent I particularly enjoyed her exploration of that variety of love. There are flashes of humor, but love is serious business here, a life and death matter. Above it, it retains an element of mystery. Cupid fires off a couple of arrows and we struggle to do the right thing while giving our hearts a chance of fulfillment.
This novel is partly literary and partly popular in tone, but it is notable for originality in these days of cookie-cutter chick lit. After the satisfying and thoughtful experience of reading it, I took a moment to wonder if she has more in her heart to say in a second novel. Literature is an alternative means of understanding life, a more intimate way than a psychology textbook or a philosophical essay. In the end, this novel is worth reading because the author had a need to write it. If she should need to write another, I will have a need to find out what she has to say.