≡ Menu

Review: Love Walked In

love walked inTitle: Love Walked In

Author: Marisa de Los Santos

Genre: Fiction

One Sentence Summary: Cornelia Brown doesn’t know what to do with her life until a real-life version of Carey Grant walks through the door and changes everything in an unexpected way.

One Sentence Review: You will enjoy this book as much as I did if you’re a reader drawn to stories with poetic prose, literary references, and love stories that aren’t always what they appear.

Long Summary: On an ordinary Saturday afternoon, Martin Grace walks through the door of Cordelia Brown’s Philadelphia coffee shop. Martin is the sort of man that a dreamer and romantic like Cornelia would love. He has dashing good looks reminiscent of Carey Grant, money, a good job, and falls for Cornelia almost instantly.

On the other side of town, Martin’s estranged 11-year-old daughter Clare Hobbs is in trouble. Her mother is in the midst of a mental breakdown which Clare is desperately trying to hide. After her mother abandons her on the side of the road, Clare has no choice but to seek out her father. Clare and Cornelia meet through Martin and the two instantly connect. The rest of the book follows the ups and downs of their friendship as Cordelia tries to figure out what she wants and if Martin is the man that can provide it for her.

Long Review: I fell in love with this book on the sixth page because of the way de los Santos uses literature and culture to show us more about her characters than she tells us. When Martin walks in the door, Cordelia declares that he is the embodiment of Carey Grant, then launches into an extended exploration of The Philadelphia Story and how that movie turns the idea of a love story upside down. From that moment I knew the book would be fascinating because I love the idea of using literature (and movies) to help tell the reader about the characters and how they view the world.

I mean, think about what that first scene says. It gives us the lens that Cordelia uses to assess everything. Martin isn’t just a handsome man, he is Carey Grant. Although Carey Grant is a film icon, he’s not someone who not all of us would first think of when a handsome man walks through the door. Thinking of Carey Grant shows Cordelia is the sort of old-soul romantic that hopes her Carey Grant to walk through the door and change her life. But she’s also smart and knows why that may not happen, which makes her romance with Martin so interesting to read about.

At the same time, using the analysis of The Philadelphia Story up front gives us a clue that this story is not going to be a traditional love story. Cordelia says,

In college, I took a film studies class subtitled something like “Turning the Formula on It’s Head” in which the professor talked about the trick The Philadelphia Story pulls off. It should never have worked: creating a fantastic love scene between two characters whom you know are not in love with each other, getting you somehow to root for them wholeheartedly during the scene, but then to feel completely satisfied when they end up with other people.

Before you get the wrong impression, you should know that I’m not and never was one of those film people, the kind who argue into the wee hours about the auteur theory and whether Spielberg is the new Capra … but I fell a little in love with the film professor when it looked upon us with shining eyes ans proclaimed, “No, it should not work . But work it does!” because he was so passionate and so right.

How beautiful is that? And how lovely is it that the story tells you straight up that it isn’t exactly going to be a love story after all. In the end the book isn’t really about Martin and Cordelia — it’s about Cordelia and Clare.

Clare is another amazing character that I loved. As her mother’s mental illness starts to decline, Clare takes it upon herself to keep it a secret. She maintains almost perfect control over her life — learning to order groceries, making sure she’s perfectly dressed at school, arranging life so no one will find out she’s almost alone. By the time she finds her way to Martin, and by extension Cordelia, you can’t help but want things to be good for her.

The book isn’t altogether perfect. There are some plot points near the end that seem, I don’t know, unexpected? I didn’t feel like there was enough early in the book to justify a major revelation late in the plot, but ultimately it didn’t bother me too much. Although the ending isn’t what I expected, I finished the book feeling satisfied that the story had turned out the way it should have.

Other Reviews: Lesley’s Book Nook; Caribou’s Mom; Book Addiction; The Novel World;

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Heather @ Book Addiction September 17, 2009, 11:56 am

    Love Walked In is a pretty great book, isn’t it? Thanks for the link love! I’d recommend reading the sequel, Belong to Me, if you haven’t already, because I really liked both books but it’s possible that BTM is better than LWI…. I think the plot is better for sure, but both stories tugged at my heart equally. 🙂

    • Kim September 17, 2009, 5:54 pm

      I definitely want to read the sequel. My sister has it now, so I’ll be borrowing it when she’s done.

  • Jenny September 17, 2009, 12:00 pm

    I also recommend the sequel! Though to me, the sequel had a slightly-too-tidy ending – but see what you think. I loooove Love Walked In, especially when she mentions The Philadelphia Story, which, apart from the sexism, I also love a lot. The scene where Katharine Hepburn is “interviewing” the journalists is one of my favorite scenes in all of moviedom.

    • Kim September 17, 2009, 5:55 pm

      Hmmm, interesting about the ending. I’m curious now! Like I said, as soon as the book opened with the references and all the literary notes I knew I was going to like it. It’s just such a good way of showing characters and making your book-loving readers feel smart 😉

  • Steph September 17, 2009, 1:34 pm

    This book seemed to be popping up everywhere in my path about a year ago… I never really looked into it because I somehow convinced myself it would be like a Jodi Picoult novel, why may float some people’s boats, but not really mine. I didn’t expect it to be so, well, literary, so I found your review really helpful! I guess this is why I shouldn’t judge books simply by their covers…

    • Kim September 17, 2009, 5:57 pm

      It’s funny you should make that comparison, actually. I bought this book for my sister for Christmas last year because someone recommended it to me as a more “literary” romance book — something I was trying to convince Jenny to read. She read it and mostly liked it and then convinced me to give it a try because she thought I’d like it more. I wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise, for most of the same reasons you haven’t yet. but it was much more thoughtful than I expected.

      • Jenny aka "Sister" September 17, 2009, 10:36 pm

        I liked it alot (i mean heck it made me cry… more than once), I just thought you should read it because I thought you would like it!!

  • Kathy September 17, 2009, 6:33 pm

    I really enjoyed this book as well. I’ve got Belong to Me to read and am really looking forward to it.

    • Kim September 27, 2009, 9:49 pm

      Jenny has that book too; I’m borrowing it when she’s finished.

  • softdrink September 17, 2009, 8:03 pm

    Belong to Me is great, too…and it goes in an unexpected direction with the characters.

    • Kim September 27, 2009, 9:49 pm

      Ooo, intriguing!

  • l September 17, 2009, 11:27 pm

    I’ve had this book for so long; must get to it soon!

    • Kim September 27, 2009, 9:50 pm

      Yes, definitely, it’s lovely.

  • Jennifer September 26, 2009, 10:23 pm

    This sounds like a really great book, one that I would almost definitely would enjoy. I like the idea of the cultural tie ins to help the reader get to know the characters. That’s a really great way of doing what my fiction writing teacher called “showing and not telling.” Definitely adding this to my TBR pile. Thanks for a great review.

    • Kim September 27, 2009, 9:51 pm

      The cultural tie ins were unexpected and probably my favorite part of the book — showing not telling was exactly what I was thinking as I was reading it.