THREE WOMEN. TWO CULTURES. ONE SECOND CHANCE.
West London. Tania Samarasena (recently divorced), her mother Helen (recently widowed), and her best friend Priya (recently nearly sacked following The Outburst) are three women at a crossroads in their lives.
As they make plans to reinvent themselves, a series of shocks, old secrets and surprises plays havoc with their relationships, as well as their futures.
A warm, witty and wonderful debut about second chances, Love & Other Dramas tells the story of three women dealing with the drama of life, love, family, friendship and keeping people out of your business in a culture where Aunty knows best.
Many thanks to Embla Books and the author for providing me with a beautiful proof copy of Love & Other Dramas in exchange for an honest review. I was thrilled to get a chance for an early read of this debut novel.
This is a wonderfully character-driven novel, and all three protagonists have complex, nuanced storylines that balance each other extremely well. The way their stories are woven together is very clever, and I found I was equally invested in each of the three women. The author has chosen their starting points intelligently, avoiding cliches by moving beyond the usual narrative openers. For example, rather than being on the cusp of discovering her husband’s affair, Tania is already divorced; her mother, Helen, is already in the process of trying to reinvent herself after the death of her husband. Similarly, when characters meet their new partners, it isn’t presented as a happy ever after – there is plenty that needs unpacking before their relationships can progress. The book probes the question ‘what comes next?’ in various ways, and it does so with an emotional maturity that is refreshing.
I loved all three main characters – Tania is so relatable in her struggle to carve out an identity for herself away from motherhood and marriage; Priya is so strong and yet so vulnerable in ways she doesn’t even realise at first – but I think Helen is my favourite character. I really admire the way the author has taken the ‘side character’ of the meddlesome mother and given her depth and nuance, exploring her issues and traumas with a sensitivity too often only reserved for younger female characters. I felt for her so much, and longed for her to see herself as the lovely Oscar does (again, proof that mature characters can be wonderful romantic heroes!) – and I also enjoyed the way that her relationship with Tania evolved as mother and daughter get to know each other properly – it’s very naturally done, a gradual erosion of the barriers they’d put up between them.
Love & Other Dramas is a beautifully subtle, moving, portrait of three women moving towards finally understanding what they deserve. It shows the work that goes into overcoming past mistakes and learned behaviours, and I finished the book with so much admiration for these three women for finding their truth. It’s an inspiring, intelligent book, written with grace and humour and the kind of empathy that we should all aspire to. I can’t wait to read more of Ronali Collings’ work.
Love & Other Dramas by Ronali Collings is published by Embla Books and is available to purchase here.