From Publishers Weekly
Star-crossed lovers Esther Fisher and Linus Stendal have never met, but they've known about each other since they were children. In this quirky, appealing romance by Swedish native Cobbold (Guppies for Tea), the two grow up in England and Sweden, respectively, hearing about each other via letters passed back and forth between Esther's mother and Linus's stepmother, who are old school friends. Linus, a dreamy child, chooses to be an architect, marries the wrong woman, has a son and is divorced; brainy, intense Esther becomes a socially conscious journalist and is convinced she'll never fall in love. Their lives are so different it seems impossible that they could ever meet, until Linus is awarded the assignment of his dreams, a commission to design an opera house in England. But the land chosen for the building is already occupied by an elderly sister and brother, and Esther, as investigative reporter, leads the tumultuous public battle against the project, just as she and Linus embark on a tentative, continuously thwarted private romance. A trip to Sweden and a host of subplots involving poisoning and attempted murder, wacky mothers, secret letters discovered and not-so-secret adulterous affairs exposed all add spice to an uncommonly rocky but compelling love story. Cobbold grants her tormented protagonists very few moments of bliss, but she leavens her tale with a healthy dose of ironic humor. This unusual romance makes the convincing argument that sometimes it is necessary to abandon the conventional rules of love to make room for the heart's unwieldy, essential demands. Agent, Jo Frank.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
Swedish author Cobbold (The Purveyor of Enchantment, 1998, etc.) offers another winning discourse on relationships, once again distinguished by her piercing humor and incisive perspective on the usually skewed path of human interaction. The opening pages flip-flop between two children, a terminally sullen London girl and a dreamy Swedish boy connected only by the correspondence of their mothers. Perpetually astonished by the idiocy of adults, Esther dreams of looking into the minds of others, while Linus draws a more perfect world. He grows up to be a scatter-brained genius haunted by a desolate childhood; she remains the same cynical charmer, fangs in the bosom of her strange family. When the two meet some two hundred pages into their own story, Esther is a journalist fighting to save pensioners from the wheels of progress, Linus the architect whose opera house is to replace the old couples cottage. Despite these inauspicious circumstances, the two are primed for love: Linus is sad and alone after the break-up of his marriage, Esther convinced that romance is a pretty shady concept. Though things go well in their first encounter, the situation deteriorates as the pairs individual codes of ethics do battle. But when Esther is sent to Linus's summer house to nurse her vacationing mother's broken hip, she falls madly (and we do mean madly) in love with him. Too bad her paper's publicity has ruined his dream of the opera house. Too bad that the perfect Pernilla is always hanging about. Too bad that someone in the family is trying to poison Linus's father. Esther, the novice in love, enacts a variety of amusing schemes to win her mans heart, including ye olde message in a bottle, but not until they both return to England does the triad of all true romancemalice, passion, lovebegin to bloom. A large cast and bizarre subplots (Linuss oddball family, Esthers breakdown in a London caf) make for an engaging read, that, with any luck, should broaden Cobbolds audience. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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