Love and Other Battles (Tess Woods) – book review

Three generations of women come together for a heartfelt story in Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods: Jess, the free-spirited hippie, her reserved daughter Jamie, and Jamie’s vulnerable teenage daughter, CJ.

This is the blurb:

Three generations of women. Three heartbreaking choices. One unforgettable story.

1969: Free-spirited hippie Jess James has no intention of falling for a soldier … but perhaps some things are not in our power to stop.

1989: Jess’s daughter, Jamie, dreams of a simple life – marriage, children, stability – then she meets a struggling musician and suddenly the future becomes wilder and complex.

2017: When Jamie’s daughter, CJ, brings home trouble in the form of the coolest boy at school, the worlds of these three women turn upside down … and the past returns to haunt them.

Spanning the trauma of the Vietnam War to the bright lights of Nashville, the epidemic of teenage self-harm to the tragedy of incurable illness, Love and Other Battles is the heart-wrenching story of three generations of Australian women, who learn that true love is not always where you seek it.v

If you loved The Notebook, this is a novel for you.

I always admire writers who weave together different time periods and voices with seemingly no effort, and Tess is no exception here. She’s created strong and memorable characters (especially Jess and CJ), and thrown a raft of conflicts at them like pacifism v war, drugs for leisure v medicine, and whether to stay in a toxic relationship. For every choice the women make, there is a battle of a different kind, and Tess gives each one balanced consideration, resulting in a read that’s emotionally satisfying, as much as it is an engrossing page turner.

There is a twist as the past collides with the present, and I picked that one early on, but that didn’t diminish the quality of the storytelling and the respect with which the issues, contemporary and historical, were treated. Highly recommended!

My advance copy was courtesy of the publisher, Harper Collins.

Monique Mulligan
For more of Monique Mulligan’s writing on books, check out her blog

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