Gabriele Annan (review date 30 October 1993)
SOURCE: Annan, Gabriele. “The Proper Study of Mankind Is Books.” Spectator 271, no. 8625 (30 October 1993): 41.
[In the following positive review, Annan finds Essays in Love to be “witty, funny, [and] sophisticated,” and asserts the book is full of insightful observations.]
On a BA flight from Paris to London the narrator picks up Chloe who happens to be sitting in the next seat. He takes her out to dinner, they go to bed together, fall in love and begin a serious affair. After a while Chloe loses interest. On the BA flight back from a weekend in Paris, she confesses that she has slept with the narrator's American friend Will. The narrator is devastated. Chloe follows Will to California. The narrator botches a suicide attempt (vitamin C instead of sleeping pills) and falls into a long depression from which he emerges three pages from the end while sitting next to Rachel at a dinner party. The following week and in the last paragraph, Rachel accepts his invitation to dine.
That's the whole plot [of Essays in Love] and it holds one's attention. The characters live: the narrator, introvert, analytical, fastidious, alarmingly well-read and indefinably old-fashioned; and Chloe, modern, extrovert, relaxed, relentlessly unsentimental. He loves the films of Eric Rohmer, she hates them. The author is very good at getting across what it is that attracts the hero (his alter...
(The entire section is 581 words.)