Originally posted on my Goodreads on Sunday 20th July 2014.
After reading Fangirl and then Eleanor and Park, I was excited to get started on Attachments, but I have to admit I struggled with it at times. I really enjoyed the email conversations to start with as it was a refreshing change from ordinary prose, particularly as an opening to the novel, and I am interested in the effects of digital technology on the ways we communicate with each other. For example, the effects of the lack of face-to-face communication on personal relationships which often rely on intimacy.
However, I could’t help feeling irritated by this book at times, particularly by the way everything just seemed to fit into place all the time. For example, Beth admiring Lincoln from afar without knowing who he is or that he just happens to be borderline obsessing over her. Also, the way this book relies on the love-at-first-sight trope, even whilst appearing to subvert that through the use of email to remove knowledge of Beth’s physical appearance; Beth eventually accepts Lincoln at the end with minimal questioning of his invasion of her privacy through reading her personal emails for months. In fact, after they meet face to face for the first time, less than twenty pages from the end, they jump straight into professing their true love for each other and it all feels a little insubstantial, a little bit rushed. I would have liked more conflict here.
Also, chapter 39 was just… unnecessary and disappointingly cliched.
Despite all of this, there are moments of brilliance that made me stop and reread passages. I even dog-eared a page (an unthinkable crime):
“‘It’s not like I fell out of love with you,’ Sam said. ‘I’m just not the same person that I was when I fell in love with you.’
‘People change,’ she said.
‘… I know that people change. I thought… I thought we were going to change together. I thought that’s what it meant to be in love.'”
For me, this captured wonderfully the differences between real love and infatuation. Real love is hard work, it’s flexible, forgiving, constantly shifting. Infatuation is static, unyielding, idealistic. This is Rowell at her best, summarising these complex ideas in a simple passage that really hits home.
Overall, I enjoyed Attachments for what it is: a light-hearted happy-ending love story.