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Daniel Jones has been the editor of the Modern Love column for almost ten years at the New York Times. During that, he has sifted through thousands of letters sent to him to select one per week that best showcases the pursuit of love and its complexities.
With a deft hand Daniel navigates through what love means, how people find it, and what modern connotations love has in today’s times. Has access to social media made it easy to emotionally or physically cheat on your spouse or loved one? How does love keep re-inventing itself in the face of betrayal, monotony and practicality? Can you be loyal to the one you love? What does it mean to be an independent woman and keep your surname after marriage? Who suffers in open marriages, and do women come out emotionally ruined from casual sex?
Are human beings meant to be loyal and committed to one partner all their lives? Or is it natural to want to stray and explore the forbidden? How do partners handle infidelity and betrayals? How vulnerable are we when we allow ourselves to love, and lust?
On the face of it, Daniel Jones does not judge the moral choices people make. Yet, through the different aspects of love and relationships people engage in, you get a glimpse into the potential landmines of uncommitted relationships. We may choose the people we love, but not the ones we lust for and the way we handle the latter, may hold the key to successful close partnerships.
Daniel does not offer solutions; he merely showcases that we know no better about love today than our ancestors knew hundreds of years ago. But we have opened up our doors to include acceptance of loves of different kinds, including untraditional, unconventional, taboo and unpalatable ones. And despite the amount of research that is happening to decode and demystify love, the truth is, we will never be any wiser, or smarter.
I loved the book, but the personal angle presented by the author did not work for me. I felt the book was complete without his personal experiences, and the insights were brilliant. His personal story felt forced…almost as if he were trying to fit his life’s choices into the various chapters of the book.
Nonetheless, Love Illuminated is an extremely interesting book, and in a light-handed, good humored way, Daniel Jones brings together those 50,000 personal essays that people have sent to him on Modern Love.
Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (With the Help of 50,000 Strangers)
By Daniel Jones
213 pp. William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers
Available as ebook on Amazon and other online stores. Available in print in bookstores