Two By Two
by Nicholas Sparks

Mothers posting on the popular website Mumsnet have the habit of referring to loved ones through various abbreviations: DC is “darling child”, DH is “darling husband”. I was reminded of this habit at the start of Two By Two, the latest schlockbuster by Nicholas Sparks. At the start of the book, our narrator, Russell Green, is describing the birth of his daughter: “Months later the big IT happened.” For once “IT” is not sex, but what follows if you are not careful. But why so cagey? “I probably should have written it all down while it was fresh in my mind. A day like the big IT should be remembered in vivid detail.” God help us if the ensuing exhaustive detail is Russell low on memory. Two by Two is either a brave exploration of shifting 21st-century gender roles or retrogressive caveman literature dressed up to look sensitive: man earns money, man resents earn­ing money while woman parents; woman earns money, man resents woman earning money while man parents. Not an IT novel, but not complete and utter s*IT either.