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Love and the Art of War

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"From the Orange Prize-nominated author of A Visit From Voltaire comes a delightful mix of Desperate Housewife-meets-Karate Kid, with hints for the underdog reader in each of us. Read this and get ready to take on the bullies and poseurs out in the cold, cruel everyday world." When fighting for love, it's nice to have a warlord on your side. . . A London librarian is losing "From the Orange Prize-nominated author of A Visit From Voltaire comes a delightful mix of Desperate Housewife-meets-Karate Kid, with hints for the underdog reader in each of us. Read this and get ready to take on the bullies and poseurs out in the cold, cruel everyday world." When fighting for love, it's nice to have a warlord on your side. . . A London librarian is losing her job, her man and, possibly even her mind. Enrolling in an evening class, "Mending Marriage or Decent Divorce," Jane ends up by mistake with a handful of oddball businessmen studying military genius Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" and China's legendary Thirty-six Battle Stratagems. Professor Baldwin suggests Jane give his class a try before joining the course for abandoned ladies next door. Applying the wiles and wisdom of ancient military sages, he'll train her how to "fight without fighting"—and win back Joe, her career and best of all, her self-esteem. Can Sun Tzu and his feudal warlords solve the problems of a middle-aged woman in NW1 London, not to mention the dilemmas of her hapless classmates? Overwhelmed by an ageing celebrity mother and an anorexic teen daughter, the distraught Jane has nothing to lose and in fact, gains more from Baldwin's coaching than she bargained for—with hilarious and poignant results.


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"From the Orange Prize-nominated author of A Visit From Voltaire comes a delightful mix of Desperate Housewife-meets-Karate Kid, with hints for the underdog reader in each of us. Read this and get ready to take on the bullies and poseurs out in the cold, cruel everyday world." When fighting for love, it's nice to have a warlord on your side. . . A London librarian is losing "From the Orange Prize-nominated author of A Visit From Voltaire comes a delightful mix of Desperate Housewife-meets-Karate Kid, with hints for the underdog reader in each of us. Read this and get ready to take on the bullies and poseurs out in the cold, cruel everyday world." When fighting for love, it's nice to have a warlord on your side. . . A London librarian is losing her job, her man and, possibly even her mind. Enrolling in an evening class, "Mending Marriage or Decent Divorce," Jane ends up by mistake with a handful of oddball businessmen studying military genius Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" and China's legendary Thirty-six Battle Stratagems. Professor Baldwin suggests Jane give his class a try before joining the course for abandoned ladies next door. Applying the wiles and wisdom of ancient military sages, he'll train her how to "fight without fighting"—and win back Joe, her career and best of all, her self-esteem. Can Sun Tzu and his feudal warlords solve the problems of a middle-aged woman in NW1 London, not to mention the dilemmas of her hapless classmates? Overwhelmed by an ageing celebrity mother and an anorexic teen daughter, the distraught Jane has nothing to lose and in fact, gains more from Baldwin's coaching than she bargained for—with hilarious and poignant results.

30 review for Love and the Art of War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anatl

    I've came to this book through a recommendation in Dear Fahrenheit 451, and I'm very glad I did. I've never been a big fan of The Art of War, but thanks to this book I've come to appreciate it. The story is basically a comedy of manners about a middle aged librarian surrounded by bigger artistic personalities like her actress of a mother and her director partner, not to mention a somewhat troubled teen aged daughter. Her life seems to be falling apart at the seams: her husband is likely having a I've came to this book through a recommendation in Dear Fahrenheit 451, and I'm very glad I did. I've never been a big fan of The Art of War, but thanks to this book I've come to appreciate it. The story is basically a comedy of manners about a middle aged librarian surrounded by bigger artistic personalities like her actress of a mother and her director partner, not to mention a somewhat troubled teen aged daughter. Her life seems to be falling apart at the seams: her husband is likely having an affair with her best friend, her job is at risk and she faces a great deal of hurdles both at home and at work. To deal with her marital problems she signs up for a course, only by accident she ends up in the "wrong" class. Luckily, she is persuaded to stick with the class on The Art of War, and she begins applying her homework to both the domestic and professional front. The quiet librarian turns out to be a rather formidable lady when crossed, and you can't help but root for her.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    What a fun premise: Meek librarian discovers her beloved husband might be having an affair and reacts in the only way she is equipped for: signs up for a local seminar. However, though she signs up for "Mending Marriage or Decent Divorce" in 96F, she winds up in "The Warlord Way to Waging Profit" (or "China's Military Genius for Maximizing Management") in 96E. She starts to leave – but if she leaves, the class will not have enough students to continue; the professor works his wiles on her to con What a fun premise: Meek librarian discovers her beloved husband might be having an affair and reacts in the only way she is equipped for: signs up for a local seminar. However, though she signs up for "Mending Marriage or Decent Divorce" in 96F, she winds up in "The Warlord Way to Waging Profit" (or "China's Military Genius for Maximizing Management") in 96E. She starts to leave – but if she leaves, the class will not have enough students to continue; the professor works his wiles on her to convince her the class could be useful to her. 'Well, I'm trying to keep a family united, not all of China.' Professor Baldwin took a deep breath. 'But all of Cathay isn't as important to you as that family.' And she stays. And as the weeks go by, as the rest of the class applies the tenets of Sun Tzu to their business affairs and she does her best to apply them to her husband's affair, things change. Jane changes. I love a good turn of phrase, and I'm as guilty as just about anyone of overusing metaphor and simile in my own writing. But Love and the Art of War takes it to a whole 'nother level. A hefty percentage of the lines in Love and the Art of War are witty – and, every now and then, perhaps a shade too witty. But the majority made me smile, either with my lips or in my head ("Joe's career at the BBC was still afloat, in a drowning-not-waving sort of way."), so I'm fine with living with the occasional over-reaching clunker. At the heart of the book is books; I wanted more. Books had saved Jane from the miseries of her own teenage years… All the more precious to Jane then, when a tiny borrower, having tumbled to the promise of exiting the library with an armful of free picture books, queued between the DVD-toting teens and clucking pensioners. At such moments, Jane whispered to Chris, 'One more little soul saved from the pixels.' - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - Rupert lived in a narrow book-lined house overlooking the heath. John Le Carre once lived nearby. Jane liked to pigeonhole London's nooks and crannies with the delicious knowledge that had she dared, she could knock on a particular author's front door and one of their characters would answer. You could even play the game on nearby Chalcot Square. Knock on Number 3 and Sylvia Plath's ghost peered through the front window. Stroll a few metres southward toward Frederick Forsyth's old digs and bump into the Jackal cleaning his gun in his dressing gown. London was full of authors, the dead ones commemorated by blue plaques for mere civilian readers, but still breathing for a librarian. The whole world around Jane shimmered with invisible dimensions, angles, and parallel realities created by writers. I would have loved a lot more of that, and of Jane's integration of The Art of War into her life. It was brilliant, and I loved it. I loved the whole first half of the book. What I didn't particularly want was the terrorism plot that began to gain more and more prominence in the story. It was a shift in the focus of the book that jangled, in discord, against the rest; it was as though a story that started out as a smart and funny and thoughtful rom-com suddenly wanted to be shelved in Action!Adventure! It all came together in the end – an end I didn't entirely expect, but was glad of – but it was rocky there for a little while.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I absolutely loved reading this book. The premise seemed so real to me. Our main character is a 40+ woman struggling with all standard aspects of her life. We have the relationship issues including the other woman, a teenager struggling with exams and an eating disorder, she will lose her job shortly due to budget costs and her ageing mother, including a weak bladder, lives in the attic. How to cope with all this? By accident, she ends up in a Chinese philosophy class given at her local communit I absolutely loved reading this book. The premise seemed so real to me. Our main character is a 40+ woman struggling with all standard aspects of her life. We have the relationship issues including the other woman, a teenager struggling with exams and an eating disorder, she will lose her job shortly due to budget costs and her ageing mother, including a weak bladder, lives in the attic. How to cope with all this? By accident, she ends up in a Chinese philosophy class given at her local community college and the friends she meets there and the strategies she learns there, help her turn her life around. The book has 36 chapters, one chapter for each of Sun Tzu 36 strategies in The Art of War. That old texts like the Art of War have survived over the years, is a testament in itself of the values that these philosophies hold. And though we now live completely different lives than the ancient writers might have foreseen, our internal lives and internal struggles for happiness are very much unchanged (for better or worse). In every chapter of this book we see one of these ancient war strategies applied very practically not to war but to love lives, career advancement, family strives, fashion marketing techniques and the war on terror no less. And therein lies one of the two flaws of this book; why did it have to include not only one terrorist attack but then later a whole kidnapping event made extra ridiculous by involving the royal family? Without the kidnapping plot, the events in this book would have passed as very plausible, that one chapter really ought not to have been there. The other flaw is the total number of characters. There are so many groups of characters here, you would need to draw a very complicated graph to include them all. We have the core family of course (man, wife, child, mother), colleagues (two sets of colleagues for both the man and the woman), 5-6 reading group members, the 6 members of the Chinese philosophy class and their families or relations. Then we get some regularly recurring characters Joop the painter, some old friends of the mother, and don't forget the whole terrorist countersurveillance plot. The above summary is a condense summery only. I still loved reading it. It was strangely relatable to me probably because I find the history of self-development strategy fascinating and because I dabble in implementing some interesting strategies in my own life as well. The book also made me want to take a class in our community college again, those evenings debating philosophy with a group of interesting strangers are very valuable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rivkah

    A librarian discovers that the advice of a warlord can do a lot to save her relationship, her sanity AND her library.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    Lighthearted if sometimes wistful comedy about a London librarian struggling to save her private life using Chinese warlord strategies learned in evening class. Instead she learns about herself, her new friends and fighting for what matters. An easy read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    If this hadn’t been our book club’s selection, I would have put this down after 2-3 chapters. A clever premise but poorly written.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susie

    laugh out loud funny!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wendelah1

    Boring characters. Dumb plot. Don't waste your time. Boring characters. Dumb plot. Don't waste your time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda Krasnow

    Finally finished......Too confusing with a mish mash of plots and subplots. The Chinese war tactics made everything even more complex.

  10. 5 out of 5

    kels

    I liked the idea of a middle-aged librarian trying to apply the principles of Sun Tzu's Art of War to her personal and professional life as everything falls into shambles - and when the book stuck to that idea, it was charming and interesting. The terrorist / kidnapping plot was a bit out of sync with the rest of the story, for me. I liked the idea of a middle-aged librarian trying to apply the principles of Sun Tzu's Art of War to her personal and professional life as everything falls into shambles - and when the book stuck to that idea, it was charming and interesting. The terrorist / kidnapping plot was a bit out of sync with the rest of the story, for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I can't stay interested in this. Plus, I'm a cynic. I can't stay interested in this. Plus, I'm a cynic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Em

    Got this in a Library Thing Giveaway and really enjoyed it, especially the subplot about the bookclub for old people. That was very touching.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andy Wandaych

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  15. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Archibald

  16. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Traci Horton

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Doyle

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adri Matamoros

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie R.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cek virabey

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lia

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ehab Gamal

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karl Mendez

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen Patrice

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fran Bude

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