Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: How The Other Half Lives
SERIES: London Lads #2
AUTHOR: Clare London
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 71 Pages
RELEASE DATE: February 15, 2017
Compulsive neat freak meets chaotic slob: Can their living space survive the conflict?
Martin Harrison keeps himself to himself and his Central London flat as neat as a new pin. Maybe he should loosen up and enjoy more of a social life, but in his mind, that’s tantamount to opening the floodgates to emotional chaos. He agrees, however, to join the flat-sitting scheme in his building and look after another tenant’s flat in exchange for a similar watch over his when he’s travelling for his work.
A floor away in the same building, Russ McNeely is happy with his life as a freelance cook and a self-confessed domestic slob. He also joins the flat-sitting scheme, both to be neighbourly and to help keep his flat in order, as Russ also travels for his work.
For a while, the very dissimilar men never meet. Martin is horrified at the mess at Russ’s flat, while Russ finds Martin’s minimalist style creepy. But in a spirit of generosity, each of them starts to help the other out by rearranging things in their own inimitable way.
Until the day a hiccup in the schedule brings them face-to-face at last.
How the Other Half Lives is a ridiculously adorable short story/novella which stars stereotyped odd couple Martin and Russ.
Russ’s apartment is a mess. He has piles of dirty dishes, clothing all over the floor, homemade booze fermenting in the bathroom and he lives surrounded by packing boxes. He’s happy, and his apartment suits him.
Martin’s apartment is practically sterile. Neutral colours, tasteful antiques, drink coasters are a must, and god forbid he actually cook in his kitchen and risk a mess. He’s also happy, and his apartment suits him.
Neither man sees anything wrong with the way they live their lives and can’t understand the constant badgering they cop from their friends. But giving into pressure to socialize more, they agree to sign up to flat-sit, although this is all organized without the two men ever meeting.
The story actually progresses well; despite the fact the author keeps our main characters apart for the first few chapters of the story. Usually stories of this length rush to get the MCs interacting and into a relationship, but Clare London cleverly begins building their bond through some very amusing ventures into each others homes.
In fact, I think the whole story could be described as clever. The author does a great job of delivering these fascinatingly contrary characters to the reader in a way that makes their romance almost an after thought. Each man has his own turn of narrating through a first person point of view, but the changes are clear and there’s no confusion. I enjoyed the interactions between the MCs and their friends just as much as the interactions between Russ and Martin themselves.
This isn’t the first book that I’ve read by Clare London, and as before I was struck by the quality of her writing. It takes skill to tell a complete story in seventy pages, but this book did just that.
Now I think I’ll go check out book number one in the series, although this book is definitely a standalone.