The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth is a breezy lesbian rom-com about love in all its various forms. In it, cynical post-breakup Saoirse meets Ruby, lover of rom-coms which are largely, involuntarily, of the straighter variety. The two come up with a plan to reenact scenes from a list of rom-coms in a string of dates that would end once they went their separate ways in the fall. Shockingly (shockingly), that isn’t exactly how it plays out.
The humor was definitely one of my favorite elements of The Falling In Love Montage. I actually laughed out loud at multiple scenes, whether due to the content itself or Saoirse’s dry, sardonic lamentations. The emphatic articulation of the audiobook narrator Alana Kerr Collins does much to magnify this effect, and easily made the novel as a whole even more enjoyable. It’s highly possible that her delivery is what made it so funny to me, but I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt. After all, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to not laugh at the Ferris wheel scene. That being said, while I think the dialogue was written very well, the writing style itself was a bit bland and verged on boring.
The plot of The Falling in Love Montage, while enjoyable, is a vehicle for the complex, layered characters Smyth brings to the page. Their believability lies in their imperfections and is present throughout Saoirse’s journey where there are no one-dimensional mean girls or evil stepmothers. The relationship between Saoirse and her father is one that struck a chord in me, as I’ve never encountered one like it, or at least not recently, and not in the way it was approached. Their rocky, debate-based rapport hits stingingly close to home, but the compassion Saoirse’s father is treated with, despite his faults, is what stuck with me long after finishing the story.
I couldn’t help but love all her relationships, actually, though I’d have loved to get a bit more time with Izzy, one of her old best friends. Despite that the time dedicated to her in the story amounted to a blip, the little I got of her history was enough to hold my attention. The book deals with a lot of heavy subjects, the most prominent being Saoirse’s mom’s dementia, and how that impacts every facet of her life. While I can’t speak to the accuracy, I appreciate the way their relationship over the years was dealt with with regard to Saoirse’s character development and the plot (really the meaning behind it) as a whole.
My biggest disappointment was that I wasn’t as invested as I should’ve been in Ruby and Saoirse’s relationship. Did I love them both as characters? Yes! So I have no clue what went wrong! Actually, scratch that, I know exactly what the problem was. Their relationship was sweet and healthy, and there was clear interest from both parties from the beginning, which is exactly what we deserve! Hell, this book as a whole is what we deserve, as was sneakily referenced in one of my favorite scenes in the novel. Alas, the lack of pining and codependency and angst and mutual hatred and general suffering has resulted in their love failing to set fire to my awful, morbid soul. It does seem, however, that, in the end, the book is more about Saoirse developing as a character than her relationship with Ruby, so I suppose all isn’t lost.
The shifts between the two facets of Saoirse’s life are jarring due to how she attempts to separate them, with her renowned penchant for keeping a lid on her feelings in play, but the two slowly intertwine in a way that is both deliberate and inevitable. While I was bothered by this during the first half of the novel, by the end I understood its usefulness as a literary device, even going so far as to appreciate it by the time I’d reached the conclusion.
The Falling in Love Montage is a book I didn’t expect but slowly came to appreciate, even despite my slight lack of enthusiasm for the whole falling in love part, which was kind of huge. After all, The Falling in Love Montage is not just a rom-com about rom-coms. It’s also a book about family and fear and friendship—about opening up, moving on, and eventually, letting go.