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The Cult of Romance

By Sarah Ayoub
Reviewed by Jane Swinton
The highly acclaimed Sarah Ayoub shines a light on cultural disconnection in this tumultuous love story.
The heroine, Natalie Saab is a smart, young, university student straddling the expectations of being Lebanese or being Australian and finding it difficult to be either.
The themes are weighty and complex but bound tightly within the expectations of love or as the main character says, the Cult of Romance.
The writing is skilful and the characters are clearly brought to life. The focus is on Natalie’s changing relationship with her best friend, Janet who is making decisions that leave Natalie challenging her own place in the world. The plot is paced well with some planned surprises that are possibly expected by some readers and for others may be a pleasant twist.
The themes of feminism, religion and postnatal depression are presented in an intimate, personal style. At times the authenticity of the characters beliefs are mitigated by the very thing she chooses to refuse, that is the cult of love. It is a complex story with no tidy endings. It is engaging and thought provoking.
I was interested in the secondary characters and events that take a backseat to the main romance These may be deep, meaningful stories that need to be told. The author is working on her first book for adults and it would provide a fascinating insight into the cultural contradictions facing migrant families.
Recommended for 14-18 year olds.
HarperCollins AU 2022
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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