Book Review: Love Virtually


 

Tomorrow BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting the audio drama of Daniel Glattauer’s Love Virtually starring David Tennant and Emilia Fox, starting at 2:15 pm.  I must admit, I hadn’t heard about the book before the audio drama was commissioned, but I promptly went off and bought it to read. I must say that it is brilliant.  It will be a great audio drama but first and foremost it is a wonderful story and I highly recommend the novel.   

 

The story develops a relationship between two characters through series of emails sent back and forth over a period of a year.  Emmi, who is voiced by Emilia Fox in the audio drama, mistypes an address during a standard customer complaint.  The misdirected email reaches Leo (David Tennant’s role), an academic and researcher into online communication methods. Leo’s funny and witty responses invoke an ongoing answer from Emmi and a series of messages follow until a friendship and love is formed between these two people through their online communication.

 

The novel challenges the accepted thought that the computer is separating and dividing human relationships.   Rather in this case, the computer aids each character in lowering their personal shields and letting the other see their thoughts and fears.  There is nothing more captivating and romantic than someone seeing the real you.   And the relationship that develops between Leo and Emmi would not have formed without the aid of the computer. This, then, is how they find themselves in the dilemma of the book.  Emmi is married, and by revealing more to Leo than she does to her own husband, Emmi and Leo are essentially engaging in an online affair that has snuck up on them by surprise.  

 

Glattauer cleverly crafts this relationship just around the email communication.  There is no narrative and rarely do the other characters appear except through Leo and Emmi’s perception of them.   We read both a stream of consciousness and watch the traditional chase and hunt dance of two people falling for each other. The result is a rapid paced novel that is hard to put down.

 

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s broadcast on BBC Radio 4.  The book’s format will morph seamlessly into an excellent audio drama along the same style as A.R. Gurney’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play Love Letters.  And both Emilia Fox and David Tennant are perfect for the roles of Emmi and Leo, as the short adverts for Thursday’s drama confirm. So, listen to BBC Radio 4 tomorrow and buy the book afterwards.  Both will be worth it.

 

 

ASIDE:  There is a sequel to the novel, Every Seventh Wave, currently out in the original German and available for pre-order on Amazon. 

 May we recommend another audio drama for the BBC?

 

Love Virtually is written by Daniel Glattauer, translated from the original German  by Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch and published by MacLehose Press / Quercus

 

 

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