Did you mean to marry me?
Did you understand the vows that we took?
J's wife has left, and J is trying to understand why. How could someone you loved so much, who claimed to love you once, just walk away? How could they send divorce papers accusing you of terrible things, when all you've ever done is tried to make them happy?
Narrated by J in the days, weeks and months after the marriage collapses, and interspersed with the departed wife's diary entries, Is This Love? is an addictive, deeply unsettling, and provocative novel of deception and betrayal, and passion turned to pain. As the story unfolds, and each character's version of events undermines the other, all our assumptions about victimhood, agency, love and control are challenged - for we never know J's gender. If we did, would it change our minds about who was telling the truth?
C. E. Riley is a writer and director of the literary festival, Primadonna, which is described as 'books, with a little bit of rock'n'roll' - a festival that showcases established and emerging voices that aren't heard enough in the mainstream. She lives in London, and has previously published two works of non-fiction. Is This Love? is her debut novel.
'This is a book about the untidy, complicated underbelly of love and love's end. Funny and true, wise and utterly authentic, you will recognise yourself over and over. I loved it.' Kit de Waal
A deeply unsettling, but unputdownable, account of a marriage unravelling. This book held me captivated with its wit, ambiguity and complexity' Abi Morgan
'A brilliant book about a difficult subject, compelling and disturbing in equal measure. It is dark and timely. It is needed - and very well done' - Stella Duffy
'A very honest story, showing the sensitivity and hurt that sit behind anger, and how misinterpreted desires can shape who we think we are and what we think we need' - La Roux
'A ferocious piece of writing which, like its characters, feels ready to detonate at any moment' -Thurston Moore
Unsettling, furious & challenging ... raw - but brilliantly so - Observer
[A] forceful debut ... Is This Love? leans on its ambitious concept to provide intrigue and impetus, as it plays out a familiar narrative trajectory that goes from romance to intractable acrimony. The novel is a determined reminder that, for some couples, an unhappy, litigious process of separation can be as intoxicating as a passionate courtship - Guardian