Author: Tess Woods
Love at First Flight is the debut of West Australian author Tess Woods. It is well written, extremely emotional and could be quite confronting for some readers.
The moment I finished I went to Goodreads to update my reading progress and rate the book, and I was stuck. It took me quite a while to settle on a star rating because the writing is good, the storyline for the most part is good, the characters are well drawn and convincing but I had issues with elements of the storyline. I couldn’t in all honesty give a four or five star rating to say that I really liked the book or it was amazing when I had such issues with it. I want to be clear going in though that those issues with it are purely personal, they aren’t a reflection on the quality of the writing or the depth of the storyline. I think this book will go really well with the right audience and unfortunately that couldn’t be me.
In a writing style that is becoming very popular, Love at First Flight is written from the first person perspective of both our leads, Mel and Matt. They don’t have alternating chapters and the perspective often shifts quite suddenly, also the alternating perspectives make for a very fluid timeline, with frequent time shifts as the perspective changes.
Mel is a 37 year old GP, wife and mother. She lives in Perth with her family but her best friend is in Sydney. The friends have started an annual tradition for some much needed girly downtime on a weekend together in Melbourne, just the two of them. Sarah is her best friend, they share everything and the two families are very close. Part of their pact for this weekend is to make an effort; they aren’t to wear their usual ‘mum uniform’, they need to dress to impress.
Love at First Flight deals with the instant jolt of chemistry some people feel when they first meet and are drawn to one another, so strongly they can’t resist. Unfortunately the timing is all wrong for these two, Mel has been married 14 years and Matt is due to marry in 4 months. There are many ways things could have played out from here and I have issues with the way they did.
As far as everyone knows Mel is happily married to a gorgeous, fit, charismatic and always happy man. Adam is an anesthetist and they are doing quite well financially. They have moved into a huge house by the beach and it seems Mel really does have it all. The couple never fight, Adam is always happy and their life is always sunshine and roses. It seems to be the perfect life but feels a little empty.
Matt is engaged to a gorgeous younger woman who is bubbly and friendly, the pair have lots of fun together – or they used to before wedding plans got in the way of everything. From what we see of them these two don’t come across as very compatible but they’ve been happy together
Mel and Matt meet when they are seated together on the plane to Melbourne, their eyes meet and sparks fly. They talk throughout the flight and get to know one another, sharing things they hadn’t shared with anyone else. When the flight ends they go their separate ways, but Matt has slipped his number into her book.
At this point things could have gone a number of ways, not all of them leading to a betrayal of the magnitude Mel inflicts on her family. After she meets Matt we start hearing about the cracks she sees in her marriage. It all seems a little like a mid-life crisis, but things get way out of hand.
A major theme in Love at First Flight is infidelity. It doesn’t try to sugar coat it and make it okay but it does explore it quite intimately. I find reading about infidelity and betrayals like this quite confronting so it did affect my reading pleasure, but that’s my issue and many other people aren’t going to feel the same way.
Love at First Flight explores infidelity and its consequences, on everyone. Mel started out determined to do the right thing for her marriage and her husband and her children, she was committed to her vows and keeping her family together. This book is gritty and raw, it’s a tangled web of emotions that are well explored and bring the characters to life.
I started out sympathetic to Mel, she had a gut reaction but was determined to look after her marriage. Here was this hot younger man who complimented her and made her feel attractive in a way that her husband hadn’t in years, she was flattered and who wouldn’t be. Her imagination ran away with her but she determined to look out for her marriage. As the chapters passed I became less and less sympathetic and more and more angry with Mel. Her choices were extremely selfish and valued no-one but her own gratification. She struggled, the entire time she struggled, but instead of looking for help she pulled away from everyone – except Sarah who she dragged into the middle of it which is not fair on a friend so close to the family.
There were a couple of passages that I found a little hard to believe and couldn’t get my head around a doctor behaving in that way but in the scheme of the story I guess it made sense.
At its heart this is a story of new beginnings, of discovering the things that are most important to us and how much hardwork is sometimes required to make a go of marriage; and it’s not about the temptations but what we do with them.
Certainly a well written and thought provoking debut that I’m sure will stay with readers long after they finish reading; and I look forward to what Tess Woods has in store for us next.
Love at First Flight is book #36 of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge