Aussie Book Review: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods
“Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don't regret it.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She's a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel's dream life turns into her worst nightmare.
Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.”
I’m not usually one for enjoying my fiction with a dose of extra-marital affair - after all I’ve been in a monogamous marriage for sixteen years and both my husband and I have witnessed first-hand the pain and devastation that occurs with these types of situations - but I must admit I was just slightly curious when I received the request from debut author Tess Woods (thank you Ellie O'Neill) to read and review her novel. After reading the blurb, that curiosity was compounded by the fact that I wanted to find out what motivates people to do the things they do … and so, I started reading!
Mel, a GP in Perth with a couple of teenaged children, has been happily married to her anaesthetist husband, Adam, for fourteen years - until she boards a Melbourne-bound flight to spend the weekend with her best friend Sarah, something that they’ve decided to do annually after the last one went so well.
On the flight, she meets Matt, a physiotherapist headed home to his fiancée after a job interview. It’s an instant physical attraction that makes her feel somewhat uncomfortable as Matt, so taken with her, dishes out compliments left right and centre – yep, he’s got it bad – but so has Mel even though she continues to raise red flags when he enters territory she’s not comfortable in.
In the three hours they spend together chatting, Matt is astounded by the fact that Mel actually “gets him”. No-one else ever has, not even Lydia. Likewise, Mel has never had a man pay so much attention and compliments to her and she somewhat reluctantly begins to revel in it even though she's happily married.
Once they reach their destination, they say their goodbyes and each goes their own way. But, neither of them can rid themselves of the thoughts that consume them and, after a night on the town with Sarah, Mel finds a hastily scribbled note with Matt’s number tucked into the novel that she was planning on reading on the flight and makes a decision - even though she continually thinks back to the devastation that occurred in her parents’ marriage when her father strayed. Is this really love at first sight, enduring love or a fatal attraction that will have repercussions for all involved?
Wow! For a debut novel, this is simply outstanding. Perth-based author Tess Woods gets right into her characters mind-sets and capably managed to bring so many of my emotions to the fore ranging from antipathy to sympathy as she explores the reasons why some relationships work and why wives (or husbands) stray! For me, the initial reluctance I felt about reading a novel showcasing infidelity soon dissipated as she deftly conveyed the pure range of emotions experienced by these characters and, by the last quarter of the book, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably thinking that I’d somehow found my way into the emotional debris of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel (whose stories I love by the way). It’s the way Tess portrays her subject that makes all the difference as Mel finds herself caught in a web of lies and moral subterfuge as this novel takes the cheating trope and turns it upside down.
When asked the question “What do you hope readers will take from your book?”, Tess simply states that “I’m not out to challenge anybody and I don’t have a life-changing message for anybody. I simply want to entertain” but I do believe that this novel will open your eyes and possibly teach a valuable lesson – after all, we’ve always been told to learn from someone else’s mistakes!
Told in first person from the perspectives of both Mel and Matt, Tess has chosen the perfect point of view from which to convey the character’s motivations which also lends a sense of immediacy and intimacy that makes the narrative all the more convincing and ups the pace of both the tension and the guilt. Her character development is pitch-perfect and for me, both the characters and her vividly painted backgrounds of Melbourne and Perth lived and breathed on the page.
Unsettling but entertaining and tastefully written, Tess has taken a combustible issue and given us a gut-wrenching and thought-provoking novel about obsession, love, choices and guilt so, put aside all the notions you’ve ever held about the motivations behind love at first sight and infidelity and pick up this novel – go on, don’t let the premise be a deal-breaker!
Tess is definitely an author to keep on your watch-list and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in her next novel, Flat White with One.
I wish to thank her for taking the time to contact me as well as HarperCollins for providing me with an ARC of this novel which I have no doubt fans of Liane Moriarty will not want to miss.
About the Author
A born and bred Egyptian, Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Love at First Flight is her first novel.
When she isn't working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.
She'd love her fans to connect with her so, if you would like to do so, please join her on Facebook or visit her Website.