By Nayisha Patel and Georgia Appleyard
Not to be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. This week’s column covers a review of Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn and Strong Female Character by Fern Brady.
Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn
Review by Nayisha Patel
Natasha Lunn's Conversations on Love is an engrossing examination of the complex and varied aspects of love. Lunn explores the complexity of human connections and reveals the threads that unite us through a series of intimate interviews with a wide range of people. The authenticity of Lunn’s conversations and their unvarnished honesty are the book's strongest points. Every interview provides a glimpse into the pleasures, difficulties and weaknesses that characterise our encounters with love, making the book feel like a window into the soul. Because of Lunn's deft questioning and sympathetic demeanour, the interviewees feel comfortable opening up and sharing the intricate web of feelings that love has woven across their lives.
The inclusion of diverse perspectives in Conversations on Love is one of its best qualities. Rather than restricting her investigation to romantic love, Lunn broadens the spectrum to include familial, platonic and self-love. Given this wide viewpoint, readers can relate to the stories on a personal level and understand the universality of human experience when it comes to matters of the heart. The interviews are arranged as such so that readers can jump easily from one to the next, each offering a different perspective on love. The book covers a wide range of emotions, from heartwarming tales of perseverance and unwavering love to devastating tales of loss and despair. Readers are guaranteed to uncover reflections of their own experiences and gain insight into the various ways in which love shapes people’s lives. Lunn's elegant and approachable writing style ensures that a broad readership will find the book captivating. Her ability to simplify complicated feelings into approachable stories is admirable. Lunn creates a sense of intimacy through her conversational tone, making the reader feel as though they are directly involved in these discussions about love.
Conversations on Love is an insightful and moving examination of one of the most essential facets of human experience. The book offers a rich tapestry that depicts the intricacy, beauty and transformative power of love via its broad array of voices and stories. Anyone who wants to explore the depths of the human heart should read it.
Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
Review by Georgia Appleyard
Stand-up comedian, podcaster and writer Fern Brady received her autism diagnosis as an adult. Like many women with autism, her symptoms went unrecognised in childhood due to outdated diagnostic criteria and false stereotypes about what autism looks like, especially among women and girls. In her memoir, Strong Female Character, Brady delves into the challenges of growing up without a correct diagnosis and the toll it takes on a young person's mental health. At once deeply personal and affecting, this book reflects the broader issues within societal structures that negatively impact neurodivergent individuals. It also explores the intersections between gender, disability and sexuality.
Honesty, as Brady tells us herself, is a typically autistic trait. She is a brutally honest narrator who sugar-coats no aspect of her own life, including her lowest moments which she recounts with no punches pulled. This bravely candid approach is one of the highlights of the memoir. The reader is able to empathise with the narrator, even in morally ambiguous scenes, because the narrator is so completely honest and free of self-aggrandisement. At the same time, Brady has a keen ability to see through pretences and social codes, such as the doublespeak of work culture. Her prose holds up a mirror to the absurd, unspoken rules that form a type of collective façade.
Reflecting on her childhood and young adult life, now with the understanding that she is autistic, Brady sheds light on the multitude of ways in which being autistic shapes her thought processes and behaviours. She explains that this often causes her to clash with those around her who define her behaviour as inconvenient at best and malevolent at worst. Brady confidently interweaves these personal anecdotes with contextual information about autism, grounding her story within the wider context of a diverse array of autistic experiences.
Ultimately, Strong Female Character is an incredibly brave book and a gem among celebrity memoirs. A perfect balance of heart wrenching memories and hilarity, this is a much-needed book that will have a genuine impact on many readers, whether they can relate to Brady’s experiences or are simply interested to learn.