Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer
‘Write to me, Emmi. Writing is like kissing, but without lips. Writing is kissing with the mind.’ It begins by chance: Leo receives emails in error from an unknown woman called Emmi. Being polite he replies, and Emmi writes back. A few brief exchanges are all it takes to spark a mutual interest in each other, and soon Emmi and Leo are sharing their innermost secrets and longings. The erotic tension simmers, and it seems only a matter of time before they will meet in person. But they keep putting off the moment – the prospect both excites and unsettles them. And after all, Emmi is happily married. Will their feelings for each other survive the test of a real-life encounter? And if so, what then? Love Virtually is a funny, fast-paced and utterly absorbing novel, with plenty of twists and turns, about a love affair conducted entirely by email.
Love Virtually is due to be published on 3rd February 2011 and has been translated from the German. It has sold over one million copies in its German edition alone and has been a massive bestseller across Europe.
When I picked it up and saw the cover and read the blurb, I thought there was no way this book was for me! I’m certainly no fan of ‘chick-lit’ or anything remotely ‘girly’ so the idea of another soppy romance novel didn’t really entice me. But I decided to give it a go due to it’s massive success overseas, and boy am I glad I did!
Leo and Emmi are two fantastic characters whose comical banter just had me giggling away to myself. This is definitely not your typical romance novel! It is so original and incredibly well written in e-mail format that it keeps you turning page after page – never wanting to put it down! It is amazing to discover how much you can actually learn about a person via email and how well you can build up a picture of them in your mind without ever really seeing them. I think in this day and age almost everyone has spoken to people they have never met before online therefore everyone should be able to relate to this story. It’s so easy to become whoever you want online – to be the best possible version of yourself. You can take as much time as you like to say exactly what you want – there are no awkward pauses, no nerves, no pressure. I find it really interesting how easy it is to see just how much the way we look really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Every single line in this novel was so well thought-out. It really makes you think about the impact the internet and emails and our virtual lives can have on our real lives. Sometimes it just takes over!
I absolutely adored Leo and Emmi – they both have very sarcastic, quirky personalities. Emmi uses Leo as an escape from her family life – she never wants Leo to knows any more than he needs to. She is never afraid to say how she feels – if she is paranoid that Leo is sleeping with someone else she says so. Why hold back when it’s just a virtual relationship? Leo is not afraid to tell Emmi about his life but and thinks he knows exactly who Emmi is at all times. He’s very sure of himself.
So how does it all end? Do they ever actually meet? Well I’m certainly not going to give that away! Half the time I was desperate for them to meet – to finally know once and for all who these people are. Would they still like each other or won’t they? The other half of the time I dreaded them meeting. I thought for sure that if they met, their relationship as we know it would be over – there are only two ways it could go – they would still love each other and make it much more of a physical relationship but losing the magic that makes them who they have been to each other over email. Or they could find that actually they are competely unattracted to each other and have no desire to continue contact which would spoil the entire novel. What I will say is that as soon as I put the book down I found myself disappointed by the ending and yet I still can’t figure out why exactly. The more I thought about it after I realised that in all honesty I don’t think there was any other way it could really end. I wonder how much Glattauer went back and forth between the possible outcomes and how he finally came to his decision?
This is definitely recommended for fans of Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and David Nicholls (One Day). It really is a great read that will keep you hooked til the end!
My rating: ****