Is there anything wrong with liking the expected? Much like one of Love Is a Canoe’s Emily, I enjoy dark chocolate, white wine, cashmere, yoga, literary books, and obscure movies. Do I like it because it is expected of me (a twenty something science librarian who likes to travel), or do I like it because I genuinely enjoy these things? I don’t know and neither does Emily.
Love Is a Canoe is the new novel by Ben Schrank. I've read a handful of other reviews and this is a novel that seems to be a hit or a miss with readers. I firmly believe it is one of the former. I absolutely, unequivocally loved it.
The story follows the lives of couple Emily and Eli, Peter, and publicist Stella as their lives slowly intersect. Emily, by far, was my favorite character in the novel. She has an ongoing internal struggle over the idea of how life should be. Eli is just an absolute cad, prone to likely what others like. Peter is an emotional con man. He wrote a bestselling book on marriage, but failed to live up to many of his teachings. Stella is a young professional obsessed with her job at a publishing house. These characters coming together can only equal disaster, funny because it is fictional.
Disarmingly simplistic chapters from Marriage Is a Canoe, Peter Herman’s bestselling book, are interlaced throughout the story. Herman’s book doles out heartwarming advice like stay in your own canoe (marriage) and take time to be alone together. These sage bits of wisdom, though bordering between sweet and ridiculous, work quite well within the story.
Love Is a Canoe is a funny, heartwarming (yet sad), witty, romantic, and hopeful novel about the demise and delusions of love, marriage, and career. There are moments of brilliant dialogue, raw emotion, and brittle hope. You might even learn a bit about publishing. And love. And the perfectly retro cover is an image to be savored.