The only negative I hear about this book might be the only negative I’ve heard about any Rowell book so far; there’s a reason this was one of the “so popular” options. And yeah, I tore into this knowing I’d love it, it would pretty much have to be about a libertarian and a nazi for me to dislike it. So cards on the table, while I get the criticism about the premise being kinda creepy – our lovelorn hero falls in love with a woman based on her emails to her friend that he’s paid to monitor for internet security at the newspaper they all work for – it just didn’t bother me all that much.
This may be because I was biased toward this book from the outset, it may be because patriarchy is something we all internalize and I’ve been too doped up on romantic comedies where stalking behavior is glamourized as true love, or maybe because Lincoln comes to his senses that what he’s doing isn’t appropriate even if it is his job.
I don’t think so though. That’s not giving Rowell enough credit. She acknowledges the rom-com tropes by making Beth the film critic for the paper, dropping references to Harold and Maude and When Harry Met Sally, unconventional love stories where women have flaws other than being accident prone, and Beth indulges in some stalker-adjacent behavior herself. That alone wouldn’t be enough, then you just have two people terrible enough to deserve each other, though the way Lincoln comes to his senses helps. The real reason this works is that we see the story through Lincoln’s eyes exclusively and fall in love with Beth just as he does, only through her communications with her friend. It’s hard to blame him for not wanting to stop reading when we don’t want to either.
I say this after each Rowell book, but I’m gonna read them all.