REVIEW: Emma Barry’s SPECIAL INTERESTS, Or Negotiating Love In a World of Realpolitik

Special InterestsEmma Barry’s Brave In Heart was one of Miss Bates’ favourite 2013 reads. She was happy to see that some were disappointed that Barry wasn’t a Rita mention this year, as she deserved to be. Brave In Heart captured Miss Bates’ love and interest from its opening sentence: ” ‘I wish to release you from our engagement.’ ” Dramatic, succinct, utterly hook-able. Special Interests, set amidst the divisive, acrimonious politics of present-day Washington DC, took longer to win her loyalty, but win it it did. Witness Special Interests‘ opening line: ” ‘Oh good, it’s not too crowded.’ ” Less élan, wouldn’t you say, dear reader? The historical context of Brave In Heart was a winning canvas to hero and heroine, Theo and Margaret: the American Civil Brave In HeartWar, life and death, men leaving, women left behind, a nation rent. The protagonists, Theo and Margaret, were seasoned, a couple taking a second-chance at love and commitment, working out old hurts and antagonisms, separation, loss, anxiety, and … drumroll, please … correspondence.  Beautiful, moving letters, the like of which we listened to on Ken Burns’ The Civil War, enthralled. How can text messages, cell calls, memos, and the cynical shenanigans of contemporary American politics compare? Special Interests had the greater challenge: to build a love story out of the mundane and build it Ms Barry did: with humour and pathos. Continue reading