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Every Five Minutes by Bronwyn Elsmore

Every Five Minutes, by Bronwyn Elsmore, is based on how one of the characters feels about another: he thinks of her “every five minutes”. And the book’s structure is exactly that, five minute segments told through the course of a day, documenting the love between a woman and a man. That device could have been a little tedious, but it’s not, and I actually think it’s one of Every Five Minutes strengths. The structure works because the unfolding of the relationship – and, indeed, the story itself – isn’t told chronologically. In fact, five minutes in (yes, the pun is intended) and I’m reminded of The Lovers Dictionary, by David Levithan, where a relationship is documented through dictionary entries.

There is only one flaw to Every Five Minutes. It skirts around the sexual aspect of the relationship. Maybe skirting is too generous – it doesn’t even touch on it. Now, if the average man supposedly thinks about sex 34 times a day (go on, Google it), well… how is it that sex doesn’t come into the telling of this story at all? It’s a glaring omission. There is a reason why the beginning of a new relationship is termed the “honeymoon” period and sexual compatibility is an important aspect to any new relationship. Isn’t it? Everything else is there. The cutesy nicknames, power plays, hesitancy, fights, surrendering, anxiety, conflicts, great descriptions of Auckland City, hints at the damage wrecked by a previous relationship… and of course the overcoming of that all into a loving relationship. There’s even a dog.

Told primarily from the female’s point of view, it is not until well into the story that one of the main character’s name is revealed, which is actually cute and quirky, and surprisingly, not distracting.

This story is a slow burn. Information is revealed slowly, a bit like the love story it tells. While there are hints as to the story arc, once reached, it seems predictable but, there is an undeniable charm to Every Five Minutes.

Reviewed by Maraea Rakuraku.

TITLE: Every Five Minutes

AUTHOR(S): Bronwyn Elsmore


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