About mini reviews:
Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .
Thanks to Bill @ Australian Legend, I picked up Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie. The premise sounded oddly similar to Beach Read by Emily Henry, which was still forthcoming at the time. In Gillespie’s novel, Aaron Mite is an adjunct professor with an MFA in fiction writing. His father, a professor emeritus at the same college, is a renowned critic of literary fiction named Dr. Horace Flowers. Thus far, Aaron has presented his father with two novels Aaron wrote, only to be told that these books would only be published if it Aaron told the publisher Dr. Flowers is his father. Rejected, Aaron starts new writing projects, hoping to get many pages done at a writer’s colony he was accepted to in the upcoming summer.
Laurie Lee is a high school graduate with a love of romance and rom-com. She married her high school sweetheart, who died one month into their marriage. Even though her writing is terrible, she enjoys creating stories with happily ever afters. A modest woman, Laurie knows her writing needs help, so she uses a co-worker as a beta reader and applies for a writer’s colony. Surprised to learn she was not only accepted but will receive a full scholarship, Laurie and Aaron are poised for collision.
Clad in brightly-colored clothes and arriving in a cute VW Bug, Laurie is eyed suspiciously at the Super Serious Literary writer’s colony. Because she’s the wrong person, though no one knows that yet. The writer who should have received a grant and acceptance to this literary colony is Lauren Leer, a serious and published author. Leer’s letter was sent to Laurie by mistake. Aaron doesn’t know this, and his curiosity about Laurie’s personality not matching Leer’s writing intrigues him. They fall in love, and at the end of the colony, when the mix up is revealed to everyone, Aaron doesn’t care Laurie is just a genre writer.
On the surface I supposed you could call this a romance novel, but the characters function more like vehicles to discuss the merits of literary vs. genre fiction. If you’re interested in serious writing or rom-com, you’ll recognize the arguments Karin Gillespie cleverly makes through her characters as they navigate social media marketing, publishers, editors, agents, book sellers, craft, and process. I found myself nodding along and smiling for most of the novel. The pacing holds steady, using just as much time as is necessary for each section while Gillespie holds the ending from us yet edges readers forward.
Cris Dukehart is a good choice for audio narrator of Love Literary Style. She captures a voice for Laurie that is sweet and girly and pivots to the serious Aaron, so academic he won’t stop wearing a corduroy jacket. Both main characters present as stereotypes at first, but are not. The way they try to adapt to each other — What is the significance of memorizing a poem? Is a jar of peanut butter a grand romantic gesture? — felt real, and I wanted both Laurie and Aaron to improve themselves, a goal that was a good motivation to keep listening.
It would be cruel if there weren’t a happily ever after, which you know will happen but not how, because Aaron didn’t even know what “rom-com” meant until he met Laurie. I enjoyed every moment of Gillespie’s beautifully blended novel and plan to check out more of her work.