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BOOK REVIEW: LOVE! An Enthusiastic and Modern Perspective on Matters of the Heart by Zoe Foster Blake

| 4 August 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: LOVE! An Enthusiastic and Modern Perspective on Matters of the Heart by Zoe Foster Blake

Penguin Michael Joseph
February 2019
Paperback, $45.00
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Non-Fiction / Family & Relationships / Dating

7.5/10 (3)

When it comes to matters of the heart, Zoe Foster Blake is often seen as the Queen. This entrepreneur and author is happily married to her best friend, the broadcaster Hamish Blake. Foster Blake first cut her teeth dishing out relationship advice when she wrote columns for various women’s magazines. Love! An Enthusiastic and Modern Perspective on Matters of the Heart sees her drawing together these essays with a trove of new advice.

Inside this handsome compendium you will find a selection of tabbed chapters for easy reference, and swift selection. You know, like that black leather book you slam open in the hotel room when you need that goddamn cheeseburger after a thirteen-hour flight, or can’t remember the friggen wi-fi password. Like that.

Some readers will be familiar with Foster Blake from her other books, Textbook Romance and Break-up Boss. While she touched on romance in these other works, Love! draws on some more aspects relating to love. It includes four distinct sections: self, dating, hurting and commitment. Foster Blake argues that most people flit between these different elements throughout their lives. That said though, her main message seems to espouse marriage and this one-size-fits-all approach may not appeal to all.

Each chapter pertains to a key stage of life, with specific reference to love and relationships. There are no rules and there is no normal when it comes to the heat: some of us may choose to keep our options open forever, or keep them closed, or live in a lighthouse with only a donkey and a TV for company.

Foster Blake is not a psychologist or a relationship expert by trade. Her main credential for this book is that she is a woman who has worked as an agony aunt for many years. She’s also a heterosexual lady who has been happily married and thus, out of the dating game for some time. Her view – while valid – may not be appropriate for all readers.

Now, back to your one-night standing.

Be safe. Enjoy yourself. And go into it knowing this person you get nude with won’t text or call or email you afterwards. That sting? Sorry. But you gotta be prepared for that if you opt in for one-night stands. Gotta get your big girl pants on before you take your sexy girl underpants off, in other words.

Foster Blake’s core demographic here is straight women in their twenties. She uses lots of expletives in her text to reinforce her points, but this may not work for everyone. The book has a colourful layout and a design that will appeal to a younger readership. Older readers may not get as much from this book, but you could also argue that these readers have a larger wealth of personal relationship experience to draw on. Foster Blake – by her own admission – knows that a book is not necessarily going to be a cure-all:

I may be a blazing narcissist and an expert at convincing you I know more than I do (HA HA HA, ‘may be’), but even I know that self-worth is not something you can remedy by reading a few pithy pages in a book. It’s incredibly complex, and influenced by multiple factors, like biological strengths and weaknesses, your childhood, family, and social landscape.

The approach that Foster Blake takes here is one of tough love. She styles herself as a sassy, older sister-type. Her end-goal is to empower readers to seize control of their relationships. In some parts she achieves this, while at other times her point is diluted by her focus on long-term monogamy. There are often some nuggets of good relationship advice in this title.

Five Nuggets of Romance Advice
1. If they have not made contact with you, they are not thinking of you
2. If you are upset with them, don’t go on and on and on about it
3. If they promise you things, but never deliver on them, they never will
4. If you don’t know where you stand with them, sit it out
5. If they make you feel like the most incredible creature on earth, and the very mention of their name makes you smile, and all of your friends and family adore them because they see how much they support and champion you, and how gooey and happy they make you: love and look after this person.

This book is suitable for readers who are looking for advice about romantic love only. It does not contain commentary about other kinds of relationships where we experience love i.e. like friendships or in families. You could argue that friendship and familial love can be as messy and complex as romantic attachments, but that is not the aim here. In spite of this, Foster Blake should be commended for negotiating the rather murky paths of romantic love with such easy-to-read prose.

Love! is ultimately a worthy look at some common relationship problems. Foster Blake is like a positive beacon, sharing her advice for modern romances. It can be a little one-size-fits-all in its rendering but there are some good takeaways here. Love! proves that there are no easy answers, just prose that feels undemanding and effortless.

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Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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