Julie Cohen – "One Night Stand"

27 Jan

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Little Black Dress, 2008 (2007)

The back blurb:
“Eleanor Connor has written lots of steamy novels, but sadly her own life is more mundane. In fact, the nearest she’s come to passion for ages is having to listen through the thin walls of her house as friend and neighbour Hugh seduces an endless stream of women.
But then Eleanor has a one-night fling of her own, waking up alone, repentant, and as she later realises, pregnant. Desperate to find her missing lover, if only to tell him he’s going to be a father, she enlists Hugh to help her search. but should she be looking closer to home to find out what it is she
really needs?”

Julie Cohen’s novel One Night Stand is a mixture of an unexpected pregnancy and best-friends-turned-lovers story with one of the friend being in love with the other for a long time. It’s written in first person and the narrator is Eleanor, a woman who’s in her late twenties, writes erotic novels and works in a pub. Hugh is her best friend since university and he lives right next door to Eleanor. He’s also who’s in love with the other for a long time.

After the one-night-stand-no-protection thing (there is a reason for it), ONS had two things going for it: 1) when done right, novels written in first person offer lots of opportunities for awwwh!-feelings when the narrator doesn’t see that someone is on love with him/her and the reader does. Cohen delivers quite a few “awwwh!-feelings.” 2) the meta-fictional elements of the story. Eleanore is told by her agent that her latest novel lacks the whiff of reality (p.4) and that she should revise it. What follows is certainly more than a mere whiff of reality (the pregnancy). Eleanor’s revision of the novel starts to tell her something about her reality.

For me, the story slowed down near the end (~ last 100 pages), because what I liked about it, seeing that Hugh’s in love with Eleanor and that she’s clueless, was taken over by fretting about ruining the friendship and misunderstandings because both Hugh and Eleanor didn’t admit to their feelings. They both treated their relationship as an extended one night stand. Which I could understand but nevertheless I thought this tedious. Also, fewer “awwwh” feelings.

There is a rather extraneous side plot about an ex-lover of her sister which doesn’t take much page count (only a few) but I thought that for what it does – bringing her sister into the story – it was a little too convoluted. It leads to a “screwball/slapstick” like, “everything-happens-at-once” ending that didn’t really work for me. The father’s identity also made me go “yeah, really!” because I thought it just too coincidental.

I like Cohen’s voice and One Night Stand was an enjoyable, intelligent and often funny read with, leaving aside the beginning and the ending, a “whiff of reality” to it thanks to its genuine characters and Cohen’s writing.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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