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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Love Hexagon

William Sutcliffe

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To purchase The Love Hexagon

Title: The Love Hexagon
Author: William Sutcliffe
Genre: Novel
Written: 2000
Length: 216 pages
Availability: The Love Hexagon - US
The Love Hexagon - UK
The Love Hexagon - Canada
Sexeck - Deutschland

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Our Assessment:

B- : dialogue, coupling and decoupling, a hexagon of twentysomething lovers and friends -- it still doesn't add up to a novel

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Daily Telegraph B+ 17/1/2000 William Leith
The Guardian B 22/1/2000 Carrie O'Grady
The Observer A 23/1/2000 Robert MacFarlane
TLS . 31/12/1999 Sam Lister

  Review Consensus:

  All think Sutcliffe is an astute, clever, and very amusing observer. Not a great work, but has entertaining bits throughout.

  From the Reviews:
  • "William Sutcliffe has captured the numbing pain of a couple who have been together too long; he is a master of the trivial domestic snit. He is also good at the panicky misery of failed sexual signals; several times, we find two people in the same room, rockily moving towards a scene of horrible embarrassment. (...) The Love Hexagon is a quick, fun read." - William Leith, Daily Telegraph

  • "Sutcliffe has made a curious choice: having created his hexagon, he looks down on it from a great height, seeing it with razor-sharp clarity but never descending to its level. The result is a narrative that reads more like an outline for a week's worth of prime-time TV soap than a novel. (...) We're left with a series of psychological snapshots, a chilly exposé of the modern mindset." - Carrie O'Grady, The Guardian

  • "The formula may sound a bit trite, but The Love Hexagon is several cuts above most generation sex novels. For one thing, Sutcliffe is an extremely perceptive psychologist. (...) He pushes his subject -- twentysomething city life -- onto the black leather couch and subjects it to some good old-fashioned psychoanalysis; the result is like a ruder, funnier version of Friends with voice-overs from Frasier." - Robert MacFarlane, The Observer

  • "The Love Hexagon charts a stage of life when the characters have much more to lose, and although Sutcliffe plays cleverly with their loves, lusts and friendships, his failure to engage with the consequences is damaging." - Sam Lister, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       It's a promising title. The love triangle has been done to death, the square is too square, the Pentagon too military -- but the hexagon ... well, there's a polygon with polymorphous and perverse possibilities. Who can't imagine the hexing and vexing affairs implicit in it ? Novel material indeed.
       So Sutcliffe sets up a hexagon of friends and lovers, twentysomethings looking for love and futures, lives and happiness. In 41 chapters (the mathematics of the form only went so far, apparently) Sutcliffe has them find and lose each other, experiment with the wrong partners and, eventually, find the semi-right partners. (It seems, however, that the next installment -- if, god forbid, there should be one, sometime in the future -- might lead to a similar reshuffling.)
       Lisa and Guy are the old couple, somehow together for five years now. Keri is one of Lisa's close friends. Helen is Guy's good friend ("Guy snogged her ten years ago on some holiday and he's been in love with her ever since", Lisa explains) Josh works with Lisa -- she "was his first proper female friend." Graham is a buddy of Guy's.
       Around the focus of Lisa and Guy (it's not a very neat hexagon) the others are drawn into the love-mess. Dates are set up, people wind up pairing off and having sex, or not. They drink, try to think about their futures, and talk (or rather: bitch) a lot. Almost nobody is happy about what they are doing, and with whom they are doing (or not doing) it. The characters try to find themselves -- in each other.
       Sound fun ? Well, the fun is meant to be in the telling. The truly painful and embarrassing episodes, the bad sex, and the worse not-having sex. And all that witty dialogue.
       Sutcliffe has managed to earn a reputation as a man who writes witty, true-to-life dialogue. How he comes to this reputation is a mystery, but then so is much of life. He writes a lot of dialogue in his books (which is something, but not quite the same thing as being good at it). The dialogue in The Love Hexagon is ... snappy ? " 'Sentences,' he says. 'You don't believe in them ?' " Graham asks. "'Sometimes'" is Helen's answer, and Sutcliffe's as well. The dialogue in The Love Hexagon is vaguely true-to-life in that it is brisk, brief, often just a rapid-fire exchange of single words and cut-off sentences. Unfortunately, the dialogue is also true to life in that it is generally trite and rarely memorable. Sure, there's some clever repartee here, but not nearly enough. Your average hack-playwright does better.
       Sutcliffe also offers some insight into the characters and their motivation, explaining them in some detail -- often in passages written in the present tense. Unfortunately this isn't the most exciting group of people, and Sutcliffe does not go enough in depth to make us sympathize with them.
       There are some decent plot twists as the characters pair off, and Sutcliffe does properly convey the horror of finding a mate (and, even worse, soul-mate) in all its ickiness. The writing is -- just -- passable. And he even manages some pathos, though that sticks out like a sore ... thumb ? But six characters are way too many for him to juggle. We suggest that if he feels drawn to geometric forms in the future he set his sights no higher than a circle.
       The Love Hexagon reads like an Alain de Botton knockoff, and while we (sort of) enjoy de B.'s romantic work we have to wonder why on earth anyone would want to try to imitate it. God forbid that Sutcliffe tackles philosophy next .....
       Twentysomethings looking for their life-mates might have some fun with this (though if they do their lives are even sadder than they know). Others will probably want to steer clear. A disposable beach read.

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The Love Hexagon: Reviews: Other books by William Sutcliffe under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       English author William Sutcliffe was born in 1971.

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