L.H. Cosway’s Still Life With Strings begins with promising originality. Set in Dublin (already unusual in this genre) we meet Jade, a street performer (she’s one of those ‘living statues’ – is it just me or should people not reaaally expect money for standing still in body paint? Anyhoo…). She also works at the nearby classical music venue, in the bar. One night, Jade has a sudden, sexual encounter with a man who’s watching her street act – a man who then, perhaps inevitably, turns out to be a dashing violinist newly arrived to replace a musician in the orchestra at her workplace. This is Shane; handsome, erudite, eager and damaged, he makes no secret of his on-going attraction to Jade, but they decide to be friends – and then of course friendship turns into friends-with-benefits, which then turns messy and emotional…
This journey is well handled and there is palpable tension between Jade and Shane as she attempts to keep him at arm’s length for fear of triggering her alcoholism. Jade has a pleasing world-weariness that is born of her raising her younger siblings after her mother has died, and Cosway also paints an evocative picture of her life on the ‘wrong’ side of town.
Still Life With Strings seems set for an unique take on the recent trends in contemporary romance, and the first two-thirds of the story really do draw you in to Jade and Shane’s burgeoning connection. Unfortunately, however, like a relationship that gradually shows itself to be something you hoped it wouldn’t, the book begins to sink into over-the-top revelations and unnecessary drama. As the characters’ connections began to be over-played, I started to feel less and less compelled by their relationship, which is a shame.
With the exception of some slightly irritating asides direct to the reader, Cosway’s narrative is certainly well told and really does bring you into Jade’s world. It’s just unfortunate that the romance itself fizzled under the burden of injections of drama that I felt weren’t really necessary. These characters were compelling enough on their own – the final part of the narrative could perhaps have been more still, with fewer strings attached. (Oof).
Cringe Factor 2/5
Is it Hot in Here? 3/5
For the Love of Feminism! 4/5
Overall Tasty Goodness 2.5/5