Book review: Love, or Nearest Offer by Adèle Geras

Warm, funny, wise and oh, so clever'¦ celebrated author Adèle Geras knows just what boxes to tick when it comes to writing women's fiction.
Love, or Nearest Offer byAdle GerasLove, or Nearest Offer byAdle Geras
Love, or Nearest Offer byAdle Geras

Her classy books – all beautifully written and packed with recognisable characters, real-life dramas and powerful emotions – are a delight and have made her one of the most perceptive authors in today’s busy market.

After years of writing a vast selection of children’s books, Geras has turned her skills and intelligence to adult novels and an army of new fans have fallen for her ability to bring us life and love in all its rich diversity and boundless complexity.

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In Love, or Nearest Offer, a glorious blend of romance, house buying and people watching, we meet Iris Atkins, an estate agent with a difference who is so busy solving her clients’ personal problems that she can’t get her own life in order.

At just 32, Iris is that seemingly rare thing… a woman who has no desire to take on motherhood. Her friends worry that she is already ‘on the shelf, past it, doomed to a single life for ever’ but Iris doesn’t see it that way.

In fact, she has just dumped her wealthy, control-freak boyfriend Neil because for the past two years he has been taking over her life and now wants her to marry him and have his children. Iris’s mother, who likes Neil, thinks she’s mad but Iris feels happier without him.

Iris’s job is her consolation… work soothes her because she knows she has a special talent when it comes to finding suitable houses for her clients. Warm-hearted, caring Iris feels she has the power of a ‘fairy godmother,’ the gift to see into these people’s lives and understand exactly what is missing and what they need, and not just in terms of bricks and mortar.

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The only stumbling block for the lovely Iris is that concentrating all her efforts on finding the right house and fixing other people’s problems doesn’t leave much time for examining the glaring gaps in her own life away from the office.

Over the course of one whirlwind year, Iris discovers that what’s best for her is not at all what she had expected…

Geras dishes up a truly tasty dish of sweet romance and the bitter heartbreaks of everyday life and death as her vibrant cast of very human characters seek out hope, happiness and new homes.

The perfect summertime read…

(Quercus, hardback, £19.99)