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Jane is sixteen when she first becomes aware of Leonard Campbell. He is a tall, gentle man with full lips and no ring on his left hand. He is her teacher. As Leonard begins to show her attention, giving her novels to read and discuss over dinner, their attraction grows and they fall in love. It is only once married, tied down with two children in 1980s suburbia, that Jane Jane is sixteen when she first becomes aware of Leonard Campbell. He is a tall, gentle man with full lips and no ring on his left hand. He is her teacher. As Leonard begins to show her attention, giving her novels to read and discuss over dinner, their attraction grows and they fall in love. It is only once married, tied down with two children in 1980s suburbia, that Jane realises she might have settled too early, losing much of herself in the process. Then Marion and Andrew, a couple whose passion frequently tips into violence, move in next door, forcing Jane to confront feelings she didn't know she could have. And when Marion abandons her family, Jane steps in to help with the couple's two boys, setting in motion a series of events, all of which expose the push and pull within every relationship. As desire and loyalty are blurred, it becomes clear that nobody can escape the devastating impact of a family falling apart. The Necessary Marriage explores the tension between intimacy and desire for freedom. It is an intense, intimate portrait of how couples come together and grow apart, and the passions that drive us to do crazy things.


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Jane is sixteen when she first becomes aware of Leonard Campbell. He is a tall, gentle man with full lips and no ring on his left hand. He is her teacher. As Leonard begins to show her attention, giving her novels to read and discuss over dinner, their attraction grows and they fall in love. It is only once married, tied down with two children in 1980s suburbia, that Jane Jane is sixteen when she first becomes aware of Leonard Campbell. He is a tall, gentle man with full lips and no ring on his left hand. He is her teacher. As Leonard begins to show her attention, giving her novels to read and discuss over dinner, their attraction grows and they fall in love. It is only once married, tied down with two children in 1980s suburbia, that Jane realises she might have settled too early, losing much of herself in the process. Then Marion and Andrew, a couple whose passion frequently tips into violence, move in next door, forcing Jane to confront feelings she didn't know she could have. And when Marion abandons her family, Jane steps in to help with the couple's two boys, setting in motion a series of events, all of which expose the push and pull within every relationship. As desire and loyalty are blurred, it becomes clear that nobody can escape the devastating impact of a family falling apart. The Necessary Marriage explores the tension between intimacy and desire for freedom. It is an intense, intimate portrait of how couples come together and grow apart, and the passions that drive us to do crazy things.

30 review for The Necessary Marriage

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Oh, I sooooo did not like this book! There was something so off-putting about it, so uncomfortable, from the characters to the storylines, and even the writing itself which was told coldly, clinically, properly, dully (it was distinctly English in this way, if you know what I mean). The writing and the story were both dead from the start, hence the little stink of rot, the little sensation of something crawling under the skin. I don't say this in a good way - there are some books where atmospher Oh, I sooooo did not like this book! There was something so off-putting about it, so uncomfortable, from the characters to the storylines, and even the writing itself which was told coldly, clinically, properly, dully (it was distinctly English in this way, if you know what I mean). The writing and the story were both dead from the start, hence the little stink of rot, the little sensation of something crawling under the skin. I don't say this in a good way - there are some books where atmosphere and creep are the nervous system of the novel, crackling with sensation and life. In this book, it was just a feeling like sinking into an open grave. Why am I reading this? Where is this going? It's so quiet, it's so dull, it's so off-putting - should I stop? Yeah. I should have stopped. I should never have started, should never have randomly picked this up. I would not recommend this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Latkins

    I was really impressed by Elisa Lodato's first novel, An Unremarkable Body, and I found this one to be equally as good. It has rather a slow start, as, in the 1970s, Jane falls in love with her teacher Leonard and begins a relationship with him. Her parents don't approve, and Jane is frustrated by Leonard's sexual repression. He insists they get married, and before long they have two daughters, the needy Becca and the self-sustaining Julia. But Jane is sexually unsatisfied in her marriage, and i I was really impressed by Elisa Lodato's first novel, An Unremarkable Body, and I found this one to be equally as good. It has rather a slow start, as, in the 1970s, Jane falls in love with her teacher Leonard and begins a relationship with him. Her parents don't approve, and Jane is frustrated by Leonard's sexual repression. He insists they get married, and before long they have two daughters, the needy Becca and the self-sustaining Julia. But Jane is sexually unsatisfied in her marriage, and is attracted to bad boy neighbour Andrew, who is always fighting with his wife Marion, leaving Jane to look after their two boys Jonathan and Robbie. The novel is in three sections, first concentrating on Leonard and Jane, then on Andrew and Marion, and finally on their offspring, Becca, Julia, Jonathan and Robbie. Although I did find it hard to get into at first, once I did I thought it was an original and enthralling read - the characters are very well-drawn and the plot is unexpected. The core of the novel is about female sexual desire and how it is both repressed and manipulated by others. For Jane, sex is the one aspect of her marriage which she is unsatisfied with; for Marion, it's the only aspect of her marriage which is good. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lucille

    The first section of The Necessary Marriage is a gripping tale of a teacher/student relationship which leads to marriage when the student, Jane, becomes pregnant. Her husband, Leonard, is a serious, quite strait laced man and as the years pass Jane becomes restless and wonders if she has missed out by tying herself down so early. The second section introduces Marion and Andrew living on a sink estate until his father dies and he inherits his house, which is next door to Jane and Leonard. They mo The first section of The Necessary Marriage is a gripping tale of a teacher/student relationship which leads to marriage when the student, Jane, becomes pregnant. Her husband, Leonard, is a serious, quite strait laced man and as the years pass Jane becomes restless and wonders if she has missed out by tying herself down so early. The second section introduces Marion and Andrew living on a sink estate until his father dies and he inherits his house, which is next door to Jane and Leonard. They move in with their two sons, who become friends with Jane's children. Jane is aware that Andrew and Marion's relationship is a fiery one, especially as Marion hankers after returning to her birthplace in Ireland. One day she disappears and Andrew tells Jane that Marion has left him and gone to Ireland leaving him to care for the boys. To say any more about the plot, which twists and turns, would be wrong and, although I enjoyed the book, I felt the ending was rushed and I wasn't surprised by it. Thanks to NetGalley and Orion for the opportunity to read and review The Necessary Marriage.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julie Cohen

    The first third of this novel, about a teenager's sexual awakening with one of her teachers, is utterly compelling and it's worth reading the book for this alone. The first third of this novel, about a teenager's sexual awakening with one of her teachers, is utterly compelling and it's worth reading the book for this alone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I purchased The Necessary Marriage on my Kindle purely due to hearing good things about Elisa Lodato's debut. The novel was not at all what I was expecting. The prose is fine, but at no point was I blown away by it. Whilst Lodato demonstrates that she is understanding of her characters, I found them relatively two-dimensional. The conclusions which the novel comes to are obvious; whilst not a great deal happened, what did was apparent ages beforehand. I purchased The Necessary Marriage on my Kindle purely due to hearing good things about Elisa Lodato's debut. The novel was not at all what I was expecting. The prose is fine, but at no point was I blown away by it. Whilst Lodato demonstrates that she is understanding of her characters, I found them relatively two-dimensional. The conclusions which the novel comes to are obvious; whilst not a great deal happened, what did was apparent ages beforehand.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Absolutely blown away by this beautiful book. Having previously read and loved Elisa Lodato’s only other novel ‘A remarkable body’ I knew I had to get my hands on this one. This book is a work of art. Beautifully written and just oh so readable. I raced through this book despite trying to savour each and every wonderful page. It made me laugh, worry and cry in equal measure. There are few other books in which I have felt such a connection with and I wait with excited and impatient breath for wha Absolutely blown away by this beautiful book. Having previously read and loved Elisa Lodato’s only other novel ‘A remarkable body’ I knew I had to get my hands on this one. This book is a work of art. Beautifully written and just oh so readable. I raced through this book despite trying to savour each and every wonderful page. It made me laugh, worry and cry in equal measure. There are few other books in which I have felt such a connection with and I wait with excited and impatient breath for what the author does next. Love love loved it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Earlier this year I read and reviewed Elisa Lodato's first novel; An Unremarkable Body. I was utterly transfixed by it and I said at the time that I was sure it would be in my Top Books of 2018. After reading her second novel, The Necessary Marriage, I am almost certain that this years's best books list will feature this author's name twice. The Necessary Marriage is an elegant, gracefully written novel that looks at two very different marriages. The short prologue takes place in November 2001 a Earlier this year I read and reviewed Elisa Lodato's first novel; An Unremarkable Body. I was utterly transfixed by it and I said at the time that I was sure it would be in my Top Books of 2018. After reading her second novel, The Necessary Marriage, I am almost certain that this years's best books list will feature this author's name twice. The Necessary Marriage is an elegant, gracefully written novel that looks at two very different marriages. The short prologue takes place in November 2001 as Julia, a schoolteacher is called to the telephone. Her sister has had a dreadful accident. The reader is then swept back to 1974 where sixteen-year old Jane is studying for A Level History. She's also carefully studying her teacher, Leonard Campbell and this extremely talented author paints a vivid picture of him for her readers too. His dark brown suits and the hairs poking from his sleeves, his watch and his distinctive musky scent are described so well and he almost jumps from the page. Jane's own character, and her fairly isolated family life is beautifully presented too, and whilst she appears to be a quiet, studious girl, doted on by parents still grieving for her baby brother who died many years ago, she's also determined and quite stubborn. Inevitably, Jane and Leonard become a couple, and despite initial horror from her parents, they go on to marry and have a family. Jane abandons her plans for University and stays at home to raise her two girls, whilst Leonard continues working as a teacher. He's a stern but loving father, and whilst it is obvious that he loves Jane, she begins to wonder if there's more to life. When their elderly neighbour dies, and his son and daughter in law move into the empty house with their two boys, Jane becomes increasingly aware of the differences in the two marriages. Her new neighbours; Andrew and Marion are loud, and passionate and often violent. When Marion abandons her family and goes home to Ireland, Jane doesn't hesitate to step in, which angers and hurts quiet Leonard who can't understand how she can associate with the loud and brash Andrew. I was absolutely swept away by this novel and read it over one weekend, hardly putting it down at all. Just as in her first novel, this author totally transported me to the era of the story. 1970s suburban England is brilliantly and expertly described and the incredible pull of the dangerous and the unknown for Jane was alluring and enticing. The Necessary Marriage is powerful and gripping. This author has a magical way with words that just engulf me. Her characters are perfectly formed, with flaws and foibles that just add to their strength and make them completely real for me. Both the story, and the author are strikingly brilliant, her ability to look at human relations is so astute. Wonderful, I loved every page and will recommend this highly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie Zelos

    The Necessary Marriage,  Elisa Lodato Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre:,General fiction (adult) Its kind of hard to rate this book. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but it was gripping reading and I could see how easily the situations could have happened in real life. I felt pretty uncomfortable over the relationship between Jane and Leonard, he is so much older, and I'd have though both parents and school would have put a stop to it. Still, they didn't and it leads Jane into a situatio The Necessary Marriage,  Elisa Lodato Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre:,General fiction (adult) Its kind of hard to rate this book. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but it was gripping reading and I could see how easily the situations could have happened in real life. I felt pretty uncomfortable over the relationship between Jane and Leonard, he is so much older, and I'd have though both parents and school would have put a stop to it. Still, they didn't and it leads Jane into a situation that she later realises she may have been too young for. Marion and Andrew, there are couples similar to this on every street and I could see how Jane got sucked into their lives and the problems that brought her. I felt for her eldest daughter – can't recall her name now, some kids so have issues that follow them into adulthood, and the situations she found herself in as an adult were very hard for her. I really was sad for her, could see how upset she was over the art exhibition, and think I'd have felt the same. I didn't expect the ending, that came as a bit of a surprise, but looking back was a culmination of events going back years. Stars:three, a well written book, with some gripping situations but one I didn't really enjoy, and won't re-read. ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher  

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Mitchell

    A gripping read, this book is tight with tension. When her next-door neighbour Marion disappears, Jane helps out by looking after her sons while their shady, flirtatious father Andrew is out at work. Prone to violence, Andrew is the complete antithesis to Jane’s husband, Leonard, who is twenty years her senior, strait-laced and fusty. An intense attraction between Jane and Andrew starts to simmer, and all the while, the ominous threat of impending devastation looms. Lodato’s writing is subtle, a A gripping read, this book is tight with tension. When her next-door neighbour Marion disappears, Jane helps out by looking after her sons while their shady, flirtatious father Andrew is out at work. Prone to violence, Andrew is the complete antithesis to Jane’s husband, Leonard, who is twenty years her senior, strait-laced and fusty. An intense attraction between Jane and Andrew starts to simmer, and all the while, the ominous threat of impending devastation looms. Lodato’s writing is subtle, artful even, then all of a sudden she lands a killer phrase that knocks you sideways with its weight. And how gifted she is at writing sex scenes - there’s nothing of the cringe factor here. An atmospheric page-turner, Lodato’s work just gets better and better.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meneesha Govender

    Once you get past the slow start to this book and get to grips with the underlying commentary, I promise this novel will be worth the read. Jane and Leonard, 16-year-old pupil and teacher, fall in love in the 1970s and get married – against the wishes of Jane’s parents. After having two daughters and setting up home, Jane questions the decisions she made as a naive teenager. Jane loves Leonard but cannot come to terms with his sexual repression. Then bad boy Andrew moves in next door with his wife Once you get past the slow start to this book and get to grips with the underlying commentary, I promise this novel will be worth the read. Jane and Leonard, 16-year-old pupil and teacher, fall in love in the 1970s and get married – against the wishes of Jane’s parents. After having two daughters and setting up home, Jane questions the decisions she made as a naive teenager. Jane loves Leonard but cannot come to terms with his sexual repression. Then bad boy Andrew moves in next door with his wife Marion. Their noisy, and sometimes violent, altercations often lead to Jane stepping in to take care of their two sons. And when Marion leaves, Jane finds herself drawn into a family drama that forces her to confront her own family issues. The novel is written in three parts and we see the unfolding story from the points of view of Jane and Leonard, then Marion and Andrew and finally their children. This is a story that is real and filled with passion and heartbreak. The conclusion took me by surprise – it fell a bit flat for me. But the overall story was a good one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Renita D'Silva

    A stark, unflinching portrait of family and relationships

  12. 4 out of 5

    Siân PJ

    I enjoyed this book a quick and easy read. Some obvious plot and some unexpected twist.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Clarissa

    Beautiful writing as always.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Beautifully written. But towards the ending, the pacing felt very rushed and it was hard to relate and sympathise with the characters. For example, when Leonard died or Becca got attacked, I wasn't worried or upset because I didn't feel attached. Beautifully written. But towards the ending, the pacing felt very rushed and it was hard to relate and sympathise with the characters. For example, when Leonard died or Becca got attacked, I wasn't worried or upset because I didn't feel attached.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicki

    I actually feel like this is two different books. I was engrossed with the first part where we meet teenage Jane, who I think is about 16, when she becomes obsessed with her English teacher, Leonard, a man in his late 30’s. The longing experienced by Jane and the build up to their relationship was perfect. As she begins to get to know Leonard better, there are a few warning signs that made me feel the sense of doom and the waste of her young years, and that feeling continued as they marry when s I actually feel like this is two different books. I was engrossed with the first part where we meet teenage Jane, who I think is about 16, when she becomes obsessed with her English teacher, Leonard, a man in his late 30’s. The longing experienced by Jane and the build up to their relationship was perfect. As she begins to get to know Leonard better, there are a few warning signs that made me feel the sense of doom and the waste of her young years, and that feeling continued as they marry when she’s 18 and have two children quickly. At this point, a solid 5 stars for this book. Then Marion and Andrew are introduced and… I really didn’t care about them or want to read their stories, and I was neutral about reading about the children in great detail. Which had me bang out of luck since they become entwined with Jane and Leonard. The second part of the book was a fail for me. Ditto to the part set in Japan. And that from me as someone who loves Japan and Japanese culture. It made me cringe to be honest. I have so many complicated feeling about Leonard. He was clearly so wrong and too rigid and old for Jane, but his feelings for her were genuine. I guess the novel captured a real long term relationship well, with the good and the bad, and also important to note the relationship started in the 70’s, times were different. I just wish it had stayed focused on Jane and Leonard and not side tracked into being everyone else’s story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    yvonne hayton

    Awful! I almost can't begin to say what I hated about this novel! I nearly gave up reading halfway through but was then curious to see how bad it got, and in that only it didn't disappoint. I don't think the author ever knew where she was going with this. The plot limped along, the characters were poorly drawn, inconsistent and deeply unsympathetic, the text littered with boring, mundane details and tortured metaphors as though the author was trying to show off. The "drama" and twist near the end Awful! I almost can't begin to say what I hated about this novel! I nearly gave up reading halfway through but was then curious to see how bad it got, and in that only it didn't disappoint. I don't think the author ever knew where she was going with this. The plot limped along, the characters were poorly drawn, inconsistent and deeply unsympathetic, the text littered with boring, mundane details and tortured metaphors as though the author was trying to show off. The "drama" and twist near the end were melodramatic and laughable, and I couldn't have cared less what happened to any of the characters anyway. A total shambles and I actually regret the 99p I spent on this! Not sure it even merits one star! How is this writer in print, let alone being nominated for awards?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Candice Callaghan-Wilkinson

    I picked this up because I loved An Unremarkable Body and found this one to be so/so. Split into 3 sections it told the saga of a family but I didn't find the division of stories to be of equal interest. The last one really dragged for me and then the book ends in an unexpected and rushed way. It wasn't horrible but I think this book just needed a bit more editing and attention before it went to print. I picked this up because I loved An Unremarkable Body and found this one to be so/so. Split into 3 sections it told the saga of a family but I didn't find the division of stories to be of equal interest. The last one really dragged for me and then the book ends in an unexpected and rushed way. It wasn't horrible but I think this book just needed a bit more editing and attention before it went to print.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I didn’t like this. It started quite well but as it went on the first part seemed irrelevant to the rest of the book and towards the end It felt rushed. I didn’t care about the characters and it was all very predictable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bookish Chat

    I had seen bits and pieces about this one on Twitter and had my head turned by that beautiful cover. When Jennifer Kerslake over at Orion offered to send me a copy I jumped at the chance. She recommended Bitter to me by Francesca Jakobi which is one of my favourite books of the year so far, so I knew I was in good hands. This is the story of 2 sets of marriages, with completely different couples wanting completely different things out of their relationships and indeed their lives. It’s the 1970’s I had seen bits and pieces about this one on Twitter and had my head turned by that beautiful cover. When Jennifer Kerslake over at Orion offered to send me a copy I jumped at the chance. She recommended Bitter to me by Francesca Jakobi which is one of my favourite books of the year so far, so I knew I was in good hands. This is the story of 2 sets of marriages, with completely different couples wanting completely different things out of their relationships and indeed their lives. It’s the 1970’s and 16 year old Jane has fallen for her history teacher Mr Campbell, or Leonard. In her eyes he is everything she thinks she wants in a man, intelligent, dependable, reliable and he sets her heart racing. When her feelings are reciprocated by Leonard, they embark on a tentative relationship, one which Jane wants to take to a physical level fairly quickly (she is coming up to 18 by this point I should add). Leonard on the other hand puts the breaks on their relationship going any further as he has promised his elderly mother that he will find a partner and marry her. He is a very respectable man who wants things to be done in the traditional way. They marry and go on to have two daughters Becca and Julia and for a while Jane is content with life. Her relationship with Leonard however starts to become a little stale, she’s not wowed by passion and has quickly, and at a young age become bogged down by the humdrum domesticity of her life. That is until a fiery couple, Marion and Andrew and their two sons Jonathan and Robert move in next door. Jane becomes interested in their relationship, and with their children being similar ages and attending the same school, she starts to get to know the couple better. It is clear from the outset that Marion is unsettled, always pining for her hometown in Ireland. When she disappears one day, Jane finds herself getting far more involved with the family next door than she anticipated. She’s enlisted by Andrew to help out with the boys and Jane enjoys not only caring for them but caring for Andrew too. But at what cost? This story is told from three perspectives. Jane and Leonard as a couple, moving on to Marion and Andrew and the background story of their relationship and then Becca and Jonathan and their friendship. If I’m honest I enjoyed Marion and Andrew’s story the most. It was the most intriguing and Marion as a character is fascinating. I would have liked a little more of the story from her perspective. A tumultuous, passionate relationship, which still couldn’t make her happy. Not even with the love of her boys, whom she adores. When the story started I did wonder whether it would be the usual ‘young girl falls for her teacher who then takes advantage of her’ trope, but it is nothing like that at all, which made me very happy indeed. Sometimes that particular trope can get a bit samey. The writing in the first few chapters, explaining Leonard and Jane’s burgeoning relationship was quite light and tripped along nicely, with a surface knowledge of these two characters. However as you are drawn further into the book, all of the characters gain such depth. There’s a gritty intensity that quietly builds. At times raw and compelling. I really enjoyed this journey. What I thought was an excellent family drama turned into something completely different as it neared it’s conclusion and I was taken by surprise in a very enjoyable way. Passionate, real, and at times heartbreaking. I would thoroughly recommend this book to you all. Thank you as ever to Jennifer Kerslake and Weidenfeld and Nicolson for the advanced copy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Hughes

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Coming from someone who loved Elisa Lodato's other novel, An Unremarkable Body, I was interested to read her debut novel, but wow was this one a let down. Granted, it's not BAD. I've finished far worse books. Lodato isn't a bad author by any means. She can paint a picture of a life easily, from the mundane to the unsettling and contrasting the live of her two main characters, Jane and Marion. But there's something so dull about this book. For a start, Jane has the personality of a dishrag. The on Coming from someone who loved Elisa Lodato's other novel, An Unremarkable Body, I was interested to read her debut novel, but wow was this one a let down. Granted, it's not BAD. I've finished far worse books. Lodato isn't a bad author by any means. She can paint a picture of a life easily, from the mundane to the unsettling and contrasting the live of her two main characters, Jane and Marion. But there's something so dull about this book. For a start, Jane has the personality of a dishrag. The only time she expresses any emotion is when she's throwing herself at her teacher at age 17 and then crying when he ignores her. After she marries him she just immediately loses any kind of personality of her own aside from her own and transitions right away into quietly dissatisfied, dutiful wife. She's so uptight and repressed and it's like Jane's rigidity influences the whole book - nothing interesting happens in the sections before she meets Marion because Jane has no life. It's pretty pathetic, if you think about it, she went from a schoolgirl to her teacher's lover to his wife and then becomes a mother to two daughters. She has no friends or hobbies or anything - if she's unhappy with her lot, you can't help but shake the feeling that it's the bed she chose to lie in. Which SHOULDN'T be how you feel considering the little matter of the fact Jane was groomed by her teacher. And let's discuss that because frankly it massively bothers me that Leonard willingly starts seeing his 18-year-old student and outright admits to her parents he wants to marry their barely legal daughter and acts like a spurned lover when Jane starts hanging out with another boy. And Jane's parents just choose to sit back and let this farce happen instead of, I don't know, putting their foot down with their daughter? Reporting Leonard to the police? I can understand that subjects like grooming and age of consent and stuff simply weren't discussed in the 1970s, but the way Jane's parents just kind of fold and let their child marry a 39-year-old man because Jane keeps insisting she loves him left a really bad taste in my mouth. Leonard receives zero comeuppance for manipulating an incredibly sheltered teenager into marrying him - he gets a wife who cooks all his meals, cleans the house and bears him two daughters he has no idea how to raise. Jane gets robbed of her youth, stuck in a boring life of a housewife and mother and then ends up being a nanny to her neighbour's kids too. When Leonard died I wasn't remotely sad, just annoyed this child groomer died without any punishment. Even when he tries to warn Jane about Andrew, it falls flat because I hated listening to the child groomer trying to tell his brainwashed wife what to do. I was hoping Marion's sections might be a bit more interesting and to be fair her storyline does seem to have a bit more plot, but it's recounted in the same cold, clinical way as the rest of the story and I was almost more disappointed in it because the blurb of this book promises a relationship "whose passion tips into violence" but they were incredibly tepid versions of passion and violence - I've seriously read books aimed at tweens and teenagers that have more graphic depictions of domestic abuse. Then Marion disappears and the question of did Andrew murder her gets completely dismissed for so much of the book it was infuriating - Leonard literally only mentions it because he's jealous of Andrew spending so much time around Jane. Also Andrew's meant to be this dangerous bad boy but since the author didn't bother describing any of the characters and Andrew's versions of being violent were so laughably tepid I couldn't take it seriously. And it's insulting that the author threw in the "twist" that Andrew did in fact murder Marion. I think anybody with a working brain could have figured it out so the fact she chucks it in so late into the book for a last-minute "shocking" turn of events felt insulting, especially since she cheaps out on what her book was meant to be. Jane has to live with the consequences of hooking up with a man she knew to be controlling and violent towards his wife, but only for a few pages before the book ends. Becca will spend the rest of her life with the injuries she sustained while (idiotically) jumping naked out of the window, but again, it's glossed over and we hear about them getting on with their lives. The book COULD have had interesting concepts but the author just...didn't fancy actually exploring them, apparently. The boiling over of desire and the thin line between passion and threat did not land at all for me, and nobody in the book felt likeable. Leonard was a child groomer, Jane was an idiot and a doormat, Becca was pathetically dependent on her mother, Julia was a smug prig and Jonathan and Robbie didn't really have any personalities to speak of. I think the author was trying to go for "nobody totally right or wrong" but as a result there was nobody I could really root for or cared about. Oh, and side note, the dialogue in this book is awful. Everybody talks in this bland, repressed way and while it makes sense for "intellectual" Leonard and Jane to speak like that, even Andrew and Marion do it and the author cannot write teenage girls to save her life. Julia constantly sounds like she's a middle-aged librarian whenever she speaks. It's not that hard to do some research into how different people speak. At least she made an attempt to write Marion with an Irish accent but it felt limp at best. Overall, this book doesn't feel like a complete novel, it feels more like a first draft that needed a lot of polishing. I know it was Lodato's first novel and her next one is much better but I still felt very underwhelmed. 2/5 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becca Scarle

    The Necessary Marriage by Elisa Lodato ⭐⭐⭐ This was a very different book from what I am used to. It was a slow burner for sure, and it took me a while to really get into it (short chapters helped there). But overall I enjoyed the read. In short, this is a story revolving around the life and regrets of Jane. We meet her as a young 16-year-old who takes a liking to an older man and we weave through the seemingly simple aspects of her daily life until we meet the new neighbours next door, Andrew and The Necessary Marriage by Elisa Lodato ⭐⭐⭐ This was a very different book from what I am used to. It was a slow burner for sure, and it took me a while to really get into it (short chapters helped there). But overall I enjoyed the read. In short, this is a story revolving around the life and regrets of Jane. We meet her as a young 16-year-old who takes a liking to an older man and we weave through the seemingly simple aspects of her daily life until we meet the new neighbours next door, Andrew and Marion. Part 2 broke the story up well for me. Seeing the parallels between the lives of young Jane and young Marion we're fascinating and yet their lives could not have been more different. Marion was a poor, orphaned young woman who finds herself wrapped up in the tense sexual atmosphere created by Andrew, whereas Jane is the more privileged of the two with loving parents and a more romanticised style of dating. The concluding part, Part 3, centring on the children's connections felt (unfortunately) a little disconnected to me. I understand its purpose, it is the final act, the pulling of storylines together, but it just didn't really feel like the story was connecting. As for the 'gripping end', I am sad to say I saw it coming. Perhaps it's because I am a seasoned reader and have seen some of the same structures before, but I didn't get that "Oh Damn!" moment and that was disappointing. All that said, I did actually enjoy the slow burn of it all. It felt a little like people watching, like we had some form of reality television in the pages. It was a comfortable story to snuggle with in bed, easy to follow with tired eyes, not overly complicated. It was exactly what it should have been. As a light read it was enjoyable

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    What a pretty cover. I love the flowers, the colours, and also the layout of the few words on it. Other than seeing that, I knew nothing about The Necessary Marriage, and its author, Elisa Lodato. What a pleasant surprise. It opened as beautifully as the Easter Lilies on its cover, to reveal a depth of emotions, honesty and love that kept me reading, smiling and enjoying it so much. Jane meets Leonard when she is sixteen and he is her teacher. He is gentle and kind, she's a keen learner, and they What a pretty cover. I love the flowers, the colours, and also the layout of the few words on it. Other than seeing that, I knew nothing about The Necessary Marriage, and its author, Elisa Lodato. What a pleasant surprise. It opened as beautifully as the Easter Lilies on its cover, to reveal a depth of emotions, honesty and love that kept me reading, smiling and enjoying it so much. Jane meets Leonard when she is sixteen and he is her teacher. He is gentle and kind, she's a keen learner, and they fall in love. It's only when they're settled with children that she wonders if settling was such a good idea for her. Read my full review here.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    It begins in the 1970's. Jane is one of Leonard's students but despite him being so much older, she decides she wants him. They marry but Jane isn't very happy with her lot. Neighbours Andrew and Marion are also discontented. The main characters were all annoying in various ways. The writing was a bit clunky at times, describing mundane things that even the people involved would've found less than riveting! The cover was lovely and the idea for the story intriguing. My first book by this author It begins in the 1970's. Jane is one of Leonard's students but despite him being so much older, she decides she wants him. They marry but Jane isn't very happy with her lot. Neighbours Andrew and Marion are also discontented. The main characters were all annoying in various ways. The writing was a bit clunky at times, describing mundane things that even the people involved would've found less than riveting! The cover was lovely and the idea for the story intriguing. My first book by this author and I would be happy to read others. I was given this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    This book was nothing as I expected - I was expecting a steamy, secretive affair between teacher and student - what I got was so much more intense and interesting than that. The divides in three parts - Jane & Leonard, Marion & Andrew and finally Jonathan and Becca. It follows their relationships and how they intertwine over the course of 20 years. The failures, disappointments, highs & lows of a marriage and the lives that enter the world and change because of that union.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I really enjoyed her first book but this was even better. Tells how 2 families interweave in3 sections. In the first Jane, a young schoolgirl falls in live with her teacher. In the second we find out about Marion, determined to get her children out of an estate in south Lindon to the suburbs. Not going to say anything about the third! I found the characters so believable and the emotions so raw. Definitely worth a read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Arushi

    Actual rating 3.5/5. There was something so uncomfortable about this book. It has a slow start and perhaps as a result, the ending feels a bit rushed. The writing style is very clinical and detached, which strangely, works for the plot. But it leaves the reader devoid of any attachment to any particular character. I’m also confounded about the general message of the book because it just seemed to stretch in so many directions.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    After thoroughly enjoying Elisa Lodato's first novel An Unremarkable Body, I had high expectations for this and she didn't let me down. Beautiful, subtle language with a focus on the small things in life that can mean so much. The author has grown in confidence and this story delivers memorable characters, diverse settings and a plot with a punch. Loved it, read it, you won't regret it. After thoroughly enjoying Elisa Lodato's first novel An Unremarkable Body, I had high expectations for this and she didn't let me down. Beautiful, subtle language with a focus on the small things in life that can mean so much. The author has grown in confidence and this story delivers memorable characters, diverse settings and a plot with a punch. Loved it, read it, you won't regret it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Following three couples who all interact with each other, this is almost a study of marriage and relationships and where it can all go wrong. I wasn't sure if I would like this but picked it up after enjoying Lodato's previous novel. I'm glad I did as it's written wonderfully with realistic characters. Worth a try if you like well-written books. Following three couples who all interact with each other, this is almost a study of marriage and relationships and where it can all go wrong. I wasn't sure if I would like this but picked it up after enjoying Lodato's previous novel. I'm glad I did as it's written wonderfully with realistic characters. Worth a try if you like well-written books.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marles Henry

    I read this book, 'The Necessary Marriage', fairly quickly, more because I just wanted to finish the novel because the plot was really all over the place. I didn't really understand why or what motives the main character Jane had in pursuing her marriage so young and their understanding where the plot went when her kids older and her relationship with the neighbours begun. But you might like it? I read this book, 'The Necessary Marriage', fairly quickly, more because I just wanted to finish the novel because the plot was really all over the place. I didn't really understand why or what motives the main character Jane had in pursuing her marriage so young and their understanding where the plot went when her kids older and her relationship with the neighbours begun. But you might like it?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Parker

    This was an ok book that I struggled with the concept, not sure what story it was trying to tell. It felt like the author didn't know what to write about first and branched off, like an excited child. I finished the book but it didn't give me any answers and I felt like the effort to read it (at times it was a slog) was not rewarded. This was an ok book that I struggled with the concept, not sure what story it was trying to tell. It felt like the author didn't know what to write about first and branched off, like an excited child. I finished the book but it didn't give me any answers and I felt like the effort to read it (at times it was a slog) was not rewarded.

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