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My Lover's Lover (2002)

by Maggie O'Farrell

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4651238,656 (3.11)26
A compulsive tale of betrayal and its impact upon a group of flatmates and lovers, Maggie O'Farrell's second novel does not disappoint. With the sensuality, passion and emotional acuteness which characterised her debut, she has written a gripping exploration of the ambivalence at the heart of intimate relationships, a keenly observed portrayal of shifting metropolitan lives and a superbly imagined story of a haunting. When Lily moves into Marcus's flat and plunges headlong into a relationship, she must contend not merely with the disapproval of flatmate Aidan, but with a more intangible, hostile presence. Could it be that Sinead, Marcus's ex, is trying to communicate with her? When Lily begins to 'see' Sinead first about the flat, and then on the streets of London, she must question not merely her sanity, but whether the man she loves is someone she can, or indeed ought to live with at all.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I really like Maggie O'Farrell's novels although I find it difficult to pigeon-hole them - the best I can do is describe them as chick-lit for people who usually read more literary fare. Except they aren't quite chick-lit. In any case, I read them when I want to relax with a novel, and yet still feel like my brain is involved.

My Lover's Lover concerns Lily, who moves into the spare room in Marcus's loft and soon after begins a relationship with him. The problem is that Marcus is in mourning for his last girlfriend, and Lily begins to see her around the loft. She becomes fixated on finding out what happened.

The first half of this book just wasn't very good. It wasn't terrible, just strained and unconvincing. It improved dramatically after the big twist, and became a solid and interesting story, but the chapters I had to read to get there were lackluster. This is O'Farrell's second novel and it reads as though she wasn't quite sure what she was planning as she went along. I'd recommend After You'd Gone or The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox to anyone, but My Lover's Lover is best avoided. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Mar 1, 2017 |
When Lilly meets Marcus at a gallery exhibit, she is immediately drawn to him, so when tells her that he is looking for a flatmate, she jumps at the chance. Yet when she gets there, the unmistakable presence of another woman lingers, reminders of her everywhere. When Lily and Marcus start sleeping together, the presence turns into a full-blown haunting, appearing only to her, and nearly driving Lily mad. Marcus won't talk about the other woman, his ex-girlfriend, only sharing that she "has left us," so Lily takes it upon herself to discover the truth.

I was riveted by the first half of the book, the haunting was creeping, and you could feel Lily's anguish and the madness that kept her from sleeping, from eating, unable to concentrate, and affecting every moment of her life. It was masterfully done, and exactly what I had come to expect from the author of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. However, once Lily learns the truth, halfway through the book, the story becomes something bland and trite and I found that I had to force myself to finish reading the book. By the end, I could barely see the connection between the two stories, and kept asking how the creepy haunting at the start of the novel related to anything that came after the words "Part Two."

I struggled over my rating of this book, and realistically would like to give it a 2.5 stars. I settled on 3 on the strength of Part One and leftover good feelings from my first novel by this author encouraged me to give her the benefit of the doubt. I'll give Ms. O'Farrell another chance (mostly because I already own another of her books), but I'm sincerely hoping the next novel is a bit more like the immensely enjoyable Esme Lennox and a little less like the confusing mess that My Lover's Lover turned out to be. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Lily meets Marcus at a gallery exhibition, and swiftly becomes both flatmate and lover, despite the fact that she knows little about him and less about the previous inhabitant of her room, Marcus' old girlfriend Sinead. But soon Lily begins seeing what she thinks is Sinead's ghost around the apartment. Neither Marcus nor his friend and other roommate Aidan is forthcoming with information about Sinead, and though Lily is haunted by her, she does not insist on getting the whole story from Marcus.

The lack of information (i.e. the suspense) in Part I was irritating, and Lily's willingness to continue to live with and date Marcus strained belief. Sinead's story, in Part II, was much more absorbing.

Maggie O'Farrell's second novel is not as good as her later ones (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine, Instructions for a Heatwave), but after the first section, I began to enjoy it more. Part I, largely from Lily's point of view, is suspenseful without doling out any additional information, so as a reader I was simply impatient to find out what was really going on. In Part II, Lily (and the reader) finds out the meat of the story: how Marcus and Sinead's relationship began and ended, narrated in alternating sections of first person, past tense for the beginning of the relationship, and third person, present tense for the end. In Part III, both Lily and Sinead move on, and Part IV - a few pages only - serves as an epilogue.

Quotes

This is what Lily loves about London, that every building, street, common and square has had different uses, that everything was once something else, that the present is only the past amended. (36)

"I just realised I hardly know anything about you." (Lily to Marcus, 75)

"Don't you and this Marcus ever talk to each other? Hold a conversation?" (Lily's mother to Lily, 109)

What she doesn't know yet is that ending a relationship cannot be done in one conversation over one evening, that such extrication takes days and months and sometimes years. (Sinead, 178)

There is something about him that binds her to him, and Lily can't quite see clearly what it is. (240) ( )
  JennyArch | Oct 16, 2015 |
This is a well-paced novel that kept me interested and wanting to finish it, although I didn't enjoy it as much as other Maggie O'Farrell novels I have read. Lily is still waiting to find out what she wants to do with her life and meets the dashing Marcus at an art launch. She moves in and begins a relationship with Marcus. So far so normal. However, she then starts to see Marcus' previous girlfriend Sinead, who Lily thinks is dead, around the flat; t seems that Sinead is still around and is haunting Lily, as no one else sees her. However, Maggie O'Farrell takes us through some plot twists and turns and all is not as it seems. It is a good solid read that got confusing occasionally as she changes the narrator and I wasn't always clear who was speaking but I managed to sort it out and keep up with the story. A good sense of place in London, the streets and the noise and the smell of the city is part of the novel. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Aug 21, 2015 |
Catching up with a big backlog of read books, hence very short writeups. Didn't enjoy it as much as the first O'Farrell I read, downright slow trudging in places.
  nocto | Dec 8, 2010 |
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She steps from the taxi, pushing at the metal weight of the door, clutching cigarettes, change and the thorned stems of roses.
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A compulsive tale of betrayal and its impact upon a group of flatmates and lovers, Maggie O'Farrell's second novel does not disappoint. With the sensuality, passion and emotional acuteness which characterised her debut, she has written a gripping exploration of the ambivalence at the heart of intimate relationships, a keenly observed portrayal of shifting metropolitan lives and a superbly imagined story of a haunting. When Lily moves into Marcus's flat and plunges headlong into a relationship, she must contend not merely with the disapproval of flatmate Aidan, but with a more intangible, hostile presence. Could it be that Sinead, Marcus's ex, is trying to communicate with her? When Lily begins to 'see' Sinead first about the flat, and then on the streets of London, she must question not merely her sanity, but whether the man she loves is someone she can, or indeed ought to live with at all.

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