This book is a life changer. It basically unifies and makes coherent the seemingly random cluster of symptoms that beset a lot of relationships, much to the bewilderment of the participants.
If you want to know why your relationship / your past relationship / other people's relationships are not working, you need to read this book.
Reading this book can be an eerie experience, as you realise that seemingly insignificant or befuddling and previously inexplicable behaviours of yourself or your partner described with unnerving precision, and realise that these behaviours are explained by a coherent theory that offers both an explanation and an indication of what you can do to change your relationship and your life.
Unlike Myers-Briggs personality typing, which seems to ratify every relationship conflict as sourced in differences between divergent by equally 'valid' personality types, this book clearly identifies clusters of behaviours that are conducive to, or conversely anathema to, a successful relationship.
This book will help you identify what you might need to change about yourself, what you might need to convince your partner to try to change about themselves, and people who you need to avoid like the plague. And if your relationship works, it will give you some insight into what you're doing right.
I've already recommended this book or bought it for about 5 people. Read it.
This is a colourful, accessible, lively book, with a clear central thesis, elaborated with plethora of interesting stories and fascinating examples. Thoroughly recommended.
The story took an incredibly long time to get going, and once it did, there were few interesting surprises. The characters were very wooden, as was the dialogue, which makes the 'darker' and 'poignant' later parts of the book ring hollow.
This novel could have done with some heavy editing. There was perhaps enough material to justify a book one third of the length.
Particularly irritating was the author's continual use of drawn out conversations where the characters fail to communicate with each other to create suspense. "X" says one character. "X? What do you mean X?" says the other character. The first character then proceeds to FAIL to clarify "X". We are told the true meaning of X later on in the book, as if it's a big surprise, and wasn't clumsily foreshadowed earlier on. This is forgiveable on occasion, but done so habitually that it makes the characters (who are supposedly Oxford academics) seem obtuse.
The science fiction aspects of the novel are also a little disappointing. It's a pretty unimaginative vision of the future. It's a world where time travel exists, but people don't have mobile phones (not because of any physical impossibility, but because the author fairly inexcusably failed to imagine their future prevalence writing in the 90s (when they had been invented already)). I mention this detail because inordinate amounts of the story are taken up with people's inability to get in contact with each other, communications mix-ups, and messages that aren't delivered. These are boring plot elements to sit through in which we're used to instant communication.
I have no complaints about the narrator.
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