Alix & Valerie

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I decided to read Alix & Valerie, a novel by Ingrid Diaz, after reading a review on For the roses. I was ready to enjoy this book and was not disappointed.

Alix is a twenty year old theatre and film student who has been in love with her best friend for years. The latter is about to get married and Alix is ready to feel wretched for the rest of her life until another friend takes her to a club one evening. There she meets Valerie – part time student and bartender – and her horizon suddenly widens.

Alix feels attracted to Valerie and soon realises that there is more to life than unrequited love and feeling miserable. A relationship develops but then Alix discovers that Valerie has not told her the whole truth about herself.

It dawns on Alix that things will never be the same whether with or without Valerie yet she feels cheated and confused and is not sure what she now wants from life. As for Valerie falling in love was not on the agenda but now that she has she needs to deal with conflicting plans and desires. Both women are faced with the ultimate question: is it possible to salvage a relationship that started off on false assumptions?

The novel falls into three parts. At first, the plot unfolds from Alix’s perspective. When the dark truth is revealed, the story is told from Valerie’s point of view. In the last part both viewpoints alternate. This device allows us to share both characters’ emotions as well as to understand Valerie’s motives. A third person narrative would not have achieved the trick so effectively.

The characters are endearing and realistic. It is only too easy to identify with Alix and her lack of confidence as she goes through the different stages of their relationship. Her feelings of insecurity and exhilaration make her real, believable and cute.

The dialogues are witty and cleverly crafted. At times they provide a most welcome dramatic relief.

Last, but not least, the seaside-lover in me enjoyed the role played by the sea in Alix & Valerie and found the beach scenes very evocative and powerful.

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