Thursday, May 1, 2008

At A Loss For Words: A Post-romantic Novel by Diane Schoemperlen

In At A Loss For Words, a successful writer with writer’s block shares her story of a failed romance. He broke her heart 30 years ago and now he’s back to do it all again. Luckily she has her closest friends with whom she can commiserate. Meanwhile she tries to break through her writer’s block using suggestions from self-help books.

I really enjoyed Schoemperlen’s story. Most love stories out there are of the happy variety or at least have a happy ending. We don’t usually get to read about the disastrous romances. So not only is the story itself unique, but the way in which it’s written is too. Told in short snippets, it’s quirky and easy to read. I really didn’t want to put it down. The writer shares her inner most feelings and despite her broken heart, she keeps her sense of humor. There are some really funny bits that gave the story an overall lightness. A few times, though, it was hard to read because it reminded me of a few past relationships that I’d rather soon forget.

I questioned a few times whether what she was feeling was really love. Maybe it was, but it was also bordering on obsession. What is it about love that makes us so blind, deaf and well, stupid?

My one complaint is about the last page where the author reveals a previously unknown (to the reader) fact about the lover. At first, I didn’t think the additional information was necessary and somewhat changed my opinion of the book. However, now that I think about it, perhaps that is what the author had in mind. That is, to offer us one piece of information that could possible erase everything we felt previously for the heartsick writer. If that were her plan, it wouldn’t have been the same had she offered that information earlier in the book. It had to be revealed at the last possible moment to make the biggest impact. Interesting concept. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but it definitely was a shock and invoked a strong response in me.

My favourite quote:
They [Kate and Michelle] remind me that if love is not exactly blind, then certainly it is a master of magical thinking, a wizard at seeing only what it wants to see, a virtuoso at hearing only what it wants to hear, and an unrivaled genius at revising reality to suit itself.

I’d definitely read another book by Schoemperlen and in fact, I already have Our Lady of the Lost & Found on my shelf waiting for me.



  1. Good review! You made some points I hadn't considered. I really enjoy Schoemperlen, but this didn't turn out to be my favourite. Glad you're going to try another as well, I think she's a great writer.

  2. I totally agree about the shock on the last page. I was completely befuddled when I read that - and am surprised that more reviewers haven't addressed it. Great review!


Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!