A recent comment diversion on Pajiba asked 'What's your go-to movie?' Basically, what movie do you watch, over and over again, whenever you need the distraction, mood-adjustment or excuse to wallow?
Love walks in is one of my go-to books. Obviously, a go-to depends on your mood, and in this case, the category is 'charming distraction'. It's practically designed for reading in the bath after a long day, or while snuffling under a blanket when you're too sick to move. And, I confess, I have a thing for the glamour of old movies and this books feeds it to an obscene level.
It's written from two perspectives: Cornelia Brown, a cafe manager with the mind of a librarian, the spirit of a bohemian and the body of Audrey Hepburn. She's dating Martin Grace, a witty, debonair businessman who looks exactly like Cary Grant.
The other perspective is Clare, Martin's eleven year old daughter. Not quite so much estranged from her father as utterly ignored, it's just her and her mother, the beautiful Viviana. Here, the tale turns from 50's repartee to modern fairy tale. Clare, like a reverse Cinderella, goes from joyful princess to desperate housekeeper in a bid to hide her mother's descent into severe mental illness.
When her mother vanishes, Clare seeks out her father. He, being utterly clueless (when she was born, he decided he ‘wasn’t cut out to be a father’ and left), brings her to Cornelia’s café. Cornelia, who isn’t clueless, basically adopts her.
This covers roughly the first quarter of the book, and I find myself reluctant to give away the rest of the plot. Let's just say Cornelia rides of into the sunset with the man of her dreams, and Clare gets the life of her dreams, too. They just might not have been the dreams they started the book with.
de los Santos published her poetry before writing this, her first novel, and it shows. Her style is so rhythmic that the words are more like song lyrics. It's so potent, you can practically hear the backing music. The book is an ode to old movies and fairy tales disguised as a love story. It gives you an overwhelming desire to raid Netflix for everything starring Grant, Stewart or either of the Hepburns.
It's also deliciously self-aware. When you might sneer at the cliches, Cornelia gets in first, sheepishly explaining herself like a snark-monster confessing their softer side. About when you're realising that Clare's ridiculously perfect, she brats up just enough to be believable, while remaining in character.
This is a love story for movie lovers. Admittedly, if you're in possession of a Y chromosome, it'll probably drain you of testosterone (allow me to submit as evidence, your honour: my version of the book has praise from Sarah Jessica Parker on the front cover. No futher questions? Didn't think so).
But it's still one of my go-to books.