This review is written with thanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for my copy of Everything Love Is.
Baptiste Molino was born in 1968. His mother, who was on a train travelling to Toulouse when she gave birth, died during childbirth. He is later adopted by the woman who delivered him, a practising midwife; also a passenger on the train to Toulouse. The main body of Everything Love Is follows Baptiste as an adult. He is now a qualified counsellor, seeing clients from the comfort of his barge, Candice. His friends, particularly Sophie, who works in his local bar, are concerned that although he spends his time helping others to find happiness, he has not been able to find happiness himself. One day, he is visited by Amandine Rousseau. Can this client help him to discover the missing pieces?
Everything Love Is is told from two perspectives: that of Baptiste, in first person, and that of Amandine, who addresses Baptiste as she narrates. For the first half of the book, it is not obvious that the second narrator is Amandine, and therefore I found the structure confusing, and the early parts of the book difficult to read. However, as the plot develops, the story becomes clearer and I gradually became immersed in it. There is a twist towards the end, and although surprising at the time, it gives clarity to the novel and emphasises the beauty and poignancy within it.
King's style of writing is beautiful, and this is particularly noticeable in the references to nature. Baptiste and his mother are keen gardeners; Sophie describes Baptiste as a kingfisher, and Baptiste's mother compares love to catching a butterfly. I found these references particularly helpful in developing a sense of place, which allowed me to engage with the environment in which the characters live.
Everything Love Is is a very apt title for King's novel. I had expected that the novel would be a romantic one, and whilst there are elements of this in the storyline, I was pleasantly surprised that King's definition of love runs much deeper than this. She also explores the platonic love between friends, the love of a parent and child and the concept of passion, both sexually and in terms of activities that one enjoys; for example, one of Baptiste's passions is music. Therefore, I found that I was able to connect with the novel on more than one level, and this enhanced my enjoyment of it.
Although Everything Love Is could be described as a slow burner, I was glad I persevered with it and the novel will stay with me for a long time to come.
Everything Love Is is published on Thursday (28th July). It is available from Amazon.