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Love and the Art of War by Dinah Lee…
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Love and the Art of War

by Dinah Lee Küng

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4211413,717 (4.03)6
  1. 00
    The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Also about a librarian, this one using night-school lessons in ancient Chinese strategy to save her job, her family and her friends.
  2. 00
    Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: "Love and the Art of War" recommended by Annie Spence in "Dear Fahrenheit 451"
  3. 00
    The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Anonymous user)
  4. 00
    A Visit from Voltaire by Dinah Lee Küng (Anonymous user)
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
London librarian Jane is aware that her life is falling apart. Enrolling in a course for repairing marriage or deciding on divorce, Jane accidentally walks into Professor Baldwin's course on The Art of War for management class instead. However, Baldwin convinces Jane that Sun Tzu may hold better advice for working to save Jane's relationship and gets her to stay. Learning the thirty-six stratagems, Jane suddenly finds herself applying the ancient Chinese battle wisdom to her career in a small branch library as well as her relationship with Joe, their daughter, Sammie, and Jane's retired actress mother, Lorraine.

This is a cute novel filled with small family drama, plenty of insights from Sun Tzu, and a great deal of character growth. While Jane is a bit too much of a stereotypical librarian to begin with (her abhorrence of any tech in her local library strikes me as a bit behind the times), her work plights are highly realistic for a British librarian. A delightful cast of characters are developed throughout the novel between Jane's home life and the small group in her class with Professor Baldwin. Charming and reminded me a bit of Sophie Kinsella novels. ( )
  MickyFine | Mar 6, 2018 |
An ER that I've owed a review for a while on. It took a few false starts with me before I could really get into it. It's a humourous modern romance with a somewhat neglected wife, Jane the librarian, taking an evening class for advice on mending her marriage and getting mistakenly put into a history class reviewing Sun Tzu's Art of War methods. She works in media/ TV and is also not in the right job which gets resolved over the course of the book, with learnings from the course. There is another student working in a family firm and being beaten down by a more successful cousin. It's funny and contains lots of well written phrases. It has very well rounded characters and family and friends all have a lot of facets to their lives which makes for a good backdrops/ details. ( )
  C4RO | May 16, 2013 |
I loved it although it wasn't such a masterpiece!

Ce simpleton depiction of the 36 tactics and a great way to have them stuck in one's mind!
  Exupere | Mar 28, 2013 |
What a fun premise: Meek librarian discovers her beloved husband might be having an affair and reacts in the only way she is equipped for: signs up for a local seminar. However, though she signs up for "Mending Marriage or Decent Divorce" in 96F, she winds up in "The Warlord Way to Waging Profit" (or "China's Military Genius for Maximizing Management") in 96E. She starts to leave – but if she leaves, the class will not have enough students to continue; the professor works his wiles on her to convince her the class could be useful to her.

'Well, I'm trying to keep a family united, not all of China.'
Professor Baldwin took a deep breath. 'But all of Cathay isn't as important to you as that family.'

And she stays. And as the weeks go by, as the rest of the class applies the tenets of Sun Tzu to their business affairs and she does her best to apply them to her husband's affair, things change. Jane changes.

I love a good turn of phrase, and I'm as guilty as just about anyone of overusing metaphor and simile in my own writing. But Love and the Art of War takes it to a whole 'nother level. A hefty percentage of the lines in Love and the Art of War are witty – and, every now and then, perhaps a shade too witty. But the majority made me smile, either with my lips or in my head ("Joe's career at the BBC was still afloat, in a drowning-not-waving sort of way."), so I'm fine with living with the occasional over-reaching clunker.

At the heart of the book is books; I wanted more.

Books had saved Jane from the miseries of her own teenage years…

All the more precious to Jane then, when a tiny borrower, having tumbled to the promise of exiting the library with an armful of free picture books, queued between the DVD-toting teens and clucking pensioners.
At such moments, Jane whispered to Chris, 'One more little soul saved from the pixels.'
- ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ -
Rupert lived in a narrow book-lined house overlooking the heath. John Le Carre once lived nearby. Jane liked to pigeonhole London's nooks and crannies with the delicious knowledge that had she dared, she could knock on a particular author's front door and one of their characters would answer. You could even play the game on nearby Chalcot Square. Knock on Number 3 and Sylvia Plath's ghost peered through the front window. Stroll a few metres southward toward Frederick Forsyth's old digs and bump into the Jackal cleaning his gun in his dressing gown. London was full of authors, the dead ones commemorated by blue plaques for mere civilian readers, but still breathing for a librarian. The whole world around Jane shimmered with invisible dimensions, angles, and parallel realities created by writers.


I would have loved a lot more of that, and of Jane's integration of The Art of War into her life. It was brilliant, and I loved it. I loved the whole first half of the book.

What I didn't particularly want was the terrorism plot that began to gain more and more prominence in the story. It was a shift in the focus of the book that jangled, in discord, against the rest; it was as though a story that started out as a smart and funny and thoughtful rom-com suddenly wanted to be shelved in Action!Adventure! It all came together in the end – an end I didn't entirely expect, but was glad of – but it was rocky there for a little while. ( )
  Stewartry | Jan 10, 2013 |
Dinah Lee Kung is one of the funniest authors I have read in a long time. Her writing is so vivid that I would recognize the characters if I met them on the street, and the setting is so real, I could construct a stage set of it. This is more than just a comic novel, the insights gained (or missed) by the characters can well be applied generally. I can't wait to get her other books. 5 stars, with no hesitation. I was supposed to get this book as a Giveaway, but couldn't figure out the downloading (uploading?), so I bought the book. It was well worth it. ( )
  ninichkeh | Nov 3, 2012 |
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A London librarian is losing her job, her man and, possibly even her mind. Enrolling in an evening class, "Mending Marriage or Decent Divorce," Jane ends up by mistake with some oddball businessmen studying Sun Tzu's The Art of War and China's legendary Thirty-six Battle Stratagems.Professor Baldwin urges Jane to give his management class a try before joining the lovelorn ladies next door. He'll train her in ancient military wiles to "fight without fighting"--and win back Joe, her career and best of all, her self-esteem.Can Sun Tzu and his feudal warlords save a middle-aged woman in modern London, not to mention her hapless classmates? Overwhelmed by an ageing celebrity mother and an anorexic teen daughter, the distraught Jane has nothing to lose and in fact, gains more from Baldwin's coaching than she bargained for--with hilarious and poignant results.
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