Elena Undone by Nicole Conn

More lesbian romance, right here. I hope you’re not already sick and tired of it, though this one might do the job. So, what’s it about:

Soulemetry is Tyler’s religion. He believes that the truest form of love is that of the Twin Flame, the soulmate you are destined to be with. He has found his and now he tries to make everybody else find theirs. Elena Winters is his best friend, she is trapped in a loveless marriage and paralyzed in her everyday life. Her only joy is her son, Nash, and his girlfriend Tori who practically lives with the Winters family because her own family is “out of town.”

Things change when Elena meets Peyton Lombard, a writer with OCD and a lesbian. The women connect in ways neither ever had with anyone else, they become fast friends then lovers and the artificial security of Elena’s life as a pastor’s wife shatters. Things get ugly but, as this is a romance, the heroines find their way to happiness.

There is a movie of the same title by the same writer/director. Usually, I find the book to a movie interesting as it tells part of the story that the movie cannot convey. With this book this is actually a downside because Conn seems to want to tell too many stories in one. The love story of Elena and Peyton is in the center, then there is the story of Elena’s family, the story of Nash and Tori, the story of Tyler and Lily, the story of Peyton’s friend Wave, the story of Peyton’s mother, her relationship with Margaret, adoption’s, the women’s glory project (that acts as a mere plot device), etc.

There is simply too much of everything. And usually I don’t mind a lively background and backstories for minor characters but in this case it is just too much. Maybe this is because it is not done naturally but seems constructed and showy. An example would be Tyler and Lily’s story that is related relatively at the end of the book. While Conn hints repeatedly at the improbability of the relationship between a seemingly gay man and a cutthroat female executive, she waits till almost the end to spin a tale that is even more unlikely than the pairing. It is too much and it comes too late in the story.

There is also a showy-ness in Conn’s writing that annoyed me quite a bit. It is all good and well to show not tell but when you’re handling stereotypes less is actually more. Conn uses a fair share of them all through the book, and then points to them and says: look, I used a stereotype and now that I commented on it I created a meta-discourse. Wasn’t that clever of me? Well, no, it was not so clever, it was annoying and she does this repeatedly.

It is not so pronounced in the movie as a lot had to be cut but it is still there. The strength of the movie in comparison with the book is probably the casting. Even Elena’s husband Barry becomes somehow sympathetic. But the best things that could have happened to the movie are Necar Zadegan (Elena), Sam Harris (Tyler), and Sabrina Fuster (Tori). I was actually looking forward to the scenes with Tyler, his Soulemetry, and his webisodes of love stories (I know that many found those annoying) he was conducting. The movie, though it has some of the book’s weaknesses, is watchable but I would not recommend the book.

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