Out of Love by Hazel Hayes – the story of a relationship from an unusual perspective

Out of Love by Hazel Hayes


This is a remarkable book telling the story of a relationship, from beginning to end, from first date until the final break up. What makes it remarkable is that the book begins with the break up, in all its mess, misunderstanding and mistakes, and ends with the first meeting. The conceit is clever, as it at first presents all the factors that cause the ending of the relationship and goes on to show exactly where they came from. It features the relationship from the point of view of a young woman who has a particular set of experiences, as she falls in love with Theo who seems to be so special, eager to plan for the future they will have together. 


The narrator whose voice we hear throughout has past experiences that will affect the relationship, including extreme anxiety. Theo has issues with his mother, who proves to be a dominating and difficult woman. Both have come from families who have coped with difficulties,  and the narrator perhaps comes to realise just how significant these issues on both sides. This honest and painful account of love gone wrong actually becomes lighter as the book goes on, as the dialogue of the couple is full of the possibilities of new love. This is a very contemporary tale, full of the honesty of relationships and attractions of all kinds. The rooms, the houses, the apartments in which the story takes place have a bearing on the way it develops, especially when they are hot, run down, or even beset by mice. This is a very interesting book, and I was glad to have the opportunity to read and review this unusual book.


The book opens with a simple question “Cup of tea?” but in this book every question of this sort is weighted down with significance. Another realisation “He asked if we could have a break but what he meant was a break up”. As this first section proceeds we discover how complicated this break up really is, as the practicalities of moving  on are worked out, as the boxes are packed and removed in a van. It is the small actions of muddling up vital papers with trinkets  which were once of importance, the deciding what important talismans of a full relationship may be. It is the sort of break up that has no one end date, with Theo possibly trying to let her down, while reluctant to concede that the relationship is beyond rescue. As references to significant dates and people emerge, the reader is intrigued to know what their relevance are to the relationship. 


This book has a momentum which keeps the reader’s interest, even when they have a good idea what the ending will be. There are some characters, relatives, friends, chance acquaintances, who have an effect on the narrative in an intriguing way. The dialogue can be light and funny, as well as full of significance. This is a romance and a very personal story, an important realisation of how people arrive at certain points in their lives and relationships. Working with an unusual concept, this is a well written story which is a very successful read.