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R&R 078 | His 'n' Hers

As usual when I do R&R photos, I just kept hoping that no one would ring the doorbell. I would have left them standing there. Though it would have been awesome to see the look on their face.

Mike Gayle
His 'n' Hers
First published in: 2004
This edition: Flame, 2004
ISBN: 0-340-82537-5
Cover design: Mike Gayle thanks one Mark in his acknowledgments, but mentions no last name. Wish I could credit the man in full for the cute cover. If anyone knows the designer's full name, drop me a line? karinelips@gmail.com

R&R 078 | His 'n' Hers

Back in the day… Wow. When I was single and ready to mingle, I relied on stories (books, movies) a lot to gain an understanding of, you know. What the hell I was doing wrong! Where was my Mr. Darcy?! Hello?! And of course, when you're convinced that you've got a one way ticket to Spinster City, other people's romances are all you've got. So, there was a definite entertainment value to these stories. But it was mostly about gaining some more insight in these relationship type deals. Look at it all… from the other side.

In a world chock-full of romance novels written by women, occasionally, a guy-who-is-not-named-Nicholas-Sparks needs to step up to the damn plate.There but a precious few men who know how to pen down a romance story that's suitable for women, but that is realistic enough, not too sappy, featuring relatable characters and leaving the reader with a good, good feeling.

I can name two authors I've always turned to for male moral support: Nick Hornby (of course!) and Mike Gayle, who used to work as a male, British version of Dear Abby. I used to really love Mike Gayle, and have read all his books save for one (Mr. Commitment). It must have been early 2007 since I'd last opened one of his books.

Three years have passed, and in that period I discovered He's Just Not That Into You. (Yes. Yes I did. And it actually kinda helped…!) I washed my hands off several douche bags, found some self-respect and wound up finding Mr. Right most unexpectedly, on flickr.com. Whaddayaknow. (Now that would have been a chick lit story that would have made sense to me.)

I didn't really need Nick or Mike (the blokes) the way I used to. Yet when I spotted His 'n' Hers by Mike Gayle at a book festival, I couldn't resist. For different reasons though.

Needing had turned into wanting. At that book festival, I was looking for books that I knew I'd like, books that read away easily, books that seemed real enough to find some sort of connection with and books that would leave me feeling fulfilled in some way. Mike Gayle's books have always offered that to me before.

Mike Gayle is a guarantee.

His 'n' Hers is about a couple (of course), Jim and Alison, who first meet in college, and at some point get together. We follow them through a decade of coupling, involving dates, apartment hunting and a cat named Disco. They make it through every joy and every obstacle together and seemed to be one of those couples that would last forever… but they don't. Their ten years together seem nothing more now than… things: what is his, what is hers?
Three years after their divorce, Jim and Alison are both in new relationships, about to settle for the second time in their lives with new significant others, not expecting to really be a part of each other's lives anymore. Until, due to an unfortunate incident, they are brought together one more time, faced with several burning questions, one of which is: what happens now?

As always with Mike Gayle's books, this one was a complete page turner. His writing style is smooth and easy, down to earth and charming. His 'n' Hers was very enjoyable. Gayle shows insight in both the minds of men and women (Jim seemed more natural, but Alison was well developed too), and the relationship between his two protagonists wasn't a fairytale relationship, but believable, with ups and downs. It's recognizable, it's normal. Some things happen for a reason, some things happen for no good reason, or any reason at all. Life doesn't always go as planned, and explanations aren't always available, and if they are available, they might not make any sense.

Yes. Mike Gayle is formulaic. His 'n' Hers isn't wildly different from what he's already written before. This book is predictable, and you know what to expect – but in this case, I embraced that wholly. I knew what I wanted from this book and I got it. So in the end of it all, I consider myself a very satisfied reader. His books aren't in my experience and opinion boring, or 'done before'. Mike Gayle's books are familiar, and comforting in that way.

And really, that's all I want from the guy.

———-
R&R series © Karin E. Lips 2008, 2009 and beyond

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