I confess, a couple of months ago I watched this awful program on channel 4 called Married at First Sight – the title is self-explanatory and instead from being a bit of light entertainment as I expected, it was utterly mind-numbing and almost a little tragic, as I watched two people that had never met, blubbering away down the aisle as they blindly walk into a marriage that has been set up in exchange in what I can only assume is a very large wad of cash. This is what briefly came to mind when I read the blurb of Nick Spalding’s 2016 novel, Mad Love. But this wasn’t to be some trashy, over-dramatic reality show; this actually seemed feasible.
Mad Love is a hilarious book, following the marriage of a couple who absent-mindedly enter into what is primarily a social experiment through the dating site, Sociality. Tying the knot with a total stranger for £30,000 and a London penthouse sounds easy; but what happens when the ‘algorithms’ that are supposed to match you, are working off a couple of online profiles that have been built on lies?
Nick Spalding has cleverly pieced together a couple, Adam and Jess, who represent the fish in a huge media pond. Their marriage is a farce; it doesn’t seem to be working, but they’ve got to pretend to soak it all up if they want to reap the rewards. Each chapter alternates between each character’s point of view, both depicting very different personalities.
Adam is a thirty-something game’s journalist; he’s underpaid, messy, and would rather sit around playing Realm of Chaos than attending the strip-club that his new wife Jess works at. It seems every scenario Adam finds himself in ends up in a huge, slap-stick mess of disaster. Even his wedding manages to be completely unexpected due to the coke-sniffing priest, and his and Jess’ house-warming party concludes with his head being wedged between the railings on their penthouse balcony.
Jess, on the other hand, comes from across the seas; she’s an American red-head and appears to be the complete opposite of Adam. She’s loud, confident, a health-enthusiast and perhaps wants an actual relationship out of the marriage, rather than money which is seemingly Adam’s only incentive.
“I know she wants love and romance- whereas I don’t know if I want sex, romance or just the opportunity to keep a West London postcode.”
Is this not a common predicament many of us find ourselves in nowadays, whether marriage is made for the satisfaction of the press or not? Well, maybe not the London postcode part, but it seems Spalding is making a comment on the complexities of modern relationships. Furthermore, the oppositions that are drawn between American and English culture I found incredibly amusing and altogether, not far from the truth.
My Rating: 8/10
Favorite Quote: “What a beautiful second it was, where all I had to worry about was the contents of a light-brown wobbly pork jelly thing.”
Amazon Price: £4.99