“My life — my real life — started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds.”
For Cornelia, manager of the coffee shop Dora in Philadelphia, the day Martin Grace walks in looking like Cary Grant straight out of Philadelphia Story, everything changes. And honestly who could resist Cary Grant? Cornelia and Martin share an instant chemistry and begin seeing each other regularly. Cornelia relates all these dates to the reader as movie-like moments.
Meanwhile Clare, an 11-year-old, is watching her mother Viviana slipping into what is later diagnosed as bipolar disorder. Clare becomes more adult than any child should be, making lists of the things her mother should be doing for her but isn’t. Clare is also a great reader, comparing herself to all her favorite orphan characters in her favorite books, just like Cornelia compares her life to all her favorite old movies.
You know immediately that they are destined to meet. Then Martin shows up at Café Dora with Clare wrapped in her mothers mink coat. Cornelia learns that Martin was married to Viviana and that Clare is his daughter although this is the first she has heard about this part of Martin’s life. Viviana has disappeared, leaving Clare on the side of a road to fend for herself.
Cornelia steps into Clare’s life to be everything she needs since her mother has disappeared and her father is cold and inexperienced when it comes to his daughter. In the middle of this steps Teo, Cornelia’s sisters husband but also, more importantly, her childhood friend. He also steps up to help take care of Clare, to be a steady rock in Clare’s stormy sea.
What was hard to read was the eventual return of Viviana. She is ‘cured’ of her disorder, sharing with Clare and Cornelia, the story of the clinic that saved her and her medication. Viviana wants nothing more than to bundle Clare up and take her home, but things are not that simple. Clare refuses to let go of Cornelia and though Viviana handles it with grace, in the end she comes to the point where she's begging Cornelia to let them try to heal themselves alone.
Love Walked In is a wonderful book, full of beautiful cinematic moments that fill your heart. The story of the three lives — Clare, Cornelia, and Teo — connecting and growing together is wonderful to read. This is a book I’ll pick up and read again, pass along to my best friend, and sit talking about for hours afterward. I’m in love!