Book review: The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything by Kara Gnodde

Sometimes I feel like I want a lighter read, but when I search most of what I find is cookie-cutter romcoms or cosy mysteries. What I’m looking for is something fun but not formulaic, which is bright and entertaining and offers something fresh. The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything fits that bill.

Mimi and her brother Art are in their thirties and still live together in their family home after the sudden death of their parents some years ago. Art is a gifted professor of mathematics, Mimi is drifting professionally and personally, having somehow decided that she has to be cook and cleaner to her genius brother.

When Mimi decides that she wants a relationship. Art, as with most decisions in life, decides that her search for love should be based on mathematical principles. Then Mimi becomes involved with Frank. Despite being a mathematician, Frank doesn’t fit Art’s model, and he is determined to prove that he isn’t right for Mimi.

The romantic storyline is intercut with the unresolved feelings of the siblings about their parents’ death, and the family dynamics during their lifetime. They make the comic moments caused by Art’s interventions in Mimi’s relationship, and her ambivalence about moving on, more poignant.

There are also some user-friendly explanations of the mathematical issues that preoccupy Frank and Art, and a light-touch but thoughtful examination of the importance of intuition versus logic in making key life decisions.

Inevitably there are lots of contrived misunderstandings and miscommunications along the path to true love. I have less patience for them than a committed fan of the romance genre, but they are deftly handled and there are some surprises along the way.

There was one element of the plot, introduced late on, which I felt went too far into the darkness (and had implications that weren’t followed through), but other than that, it sensitively balanced the humorous and painful elements of the story.

The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything is tender, engaging and – mostly – uplifting.

I received a copy of The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything from the publisher via NetGalley.
View The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything on Goodreads

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