Margaret Rudge is one of those folks who operates at a different frequency than most. Wild haired on the best of days and often leaving a trail of chaos in her wake, she is a being who lives without a filter and is entirely in the moment, sometimes to a fault. But we won’t blame her for that as she’s had a rough go. Recently dumped by her husband and now unemployed, Margaret is suddenly cast into limbo. But heartbreak and loneliness don’t seem to phase our dear Margaret all that much, or maybe she’s just good at hiding it as we of the bruised heart club are sometimes able to do.
The winner of the 39 annual 3-day novel writing contest, author Mark Wagstaff’s Attack of the Lonely Hearts is an easy to read and odd little tale of human frailty with the sneaky message of what a little perseverance can accomplish.
Despite my initial distaste for Margaret, the protagonist, I quickly began to empathize with her. As, the people she comes into contact with generally treat her like shit. Sure, she can clumsily knock over the most stable of objects and spits lines from bad ‘80s movies into most conversations but she is ultimately just a sweet girl dealing with heartache. However, like most tales of lost love and finding oneself, Attack of the Lonely Hearts is not without its romantic side quests. Soon after landing a job at a street coffee stand she ends up falling for a customer named David. A dreamy modern dancer, he is at first cold and emotionally unavailable, but after a while Margaret’s quirk chaos seems to grow on him, even though she is perpetually 10 steps behind.
Despite being written in a mere three days, Attack of the Lonely Hearts does not feel rushed. Instead, it reads like an effective shot of life. With nice imagery and wordplay, Wagstaff has created a character that you end up caring for, even if it takes a while to learn that she is not all that far removed from either you or me.