NICO Book Club: How We Love By Clementine Ford

To celebrate the launch of our latest collection, Gwen, we gathered the NICO community in Sydney for our first NICO Book Club in conjunction with Jerico Contemporary Gallery. Attended by friends new and old including Bridget Gao-Hollitt, Matilda Dodds, Francesca Wallace, Ilkin Kurt and Rosie Dalton and led by Victoria Pearson, we delved into Clementine Ford's latest memoir, How We Love. 

NICO Book Club

We invite you to join the conversation - below Victoria shares her thoughts on the book.

"This seems like a safe space to admit that I am borderline obsessed with love. As a writer and civil marriage celebrant, the topic lies at the centre of most of my professional life and, depending on my mood, a lot of my personal life, too. 

I can recall with vivid clarity sitting in the near darkness of the local cinema as a teenager in 2003, listening to Hugh Grant tell me atop a slow-motion Heathrow arrivals gate montage that “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around”. I nodded with solemn appreciation and wrote the passage down carefully in a journal later that evening. In my capacity as a marriage officiant, I’ve heard (and teared up over) nearly one hundred proposal stories, and have heard (and teared up over) nearly one hundred couples saying, “I do”. The breadth and depth and viscerality and unknowing of love has captivated me for decades. And, shocker, I am not alone.

Writer, broadcaster and feminist thinker, Clementine Ford, is synonymous with unflinching takes on politics, toxic masculinity, and internet culture. She is less known for her perspectives on love – familial, platonic, romantic or otherwise. However, as she describes of her own mother in the opening chapter of her newest publication, within us all are “millions of possible women”. As a fellow student on the subject, Ford’s focus shifted to one of the other million possible voices that exists within her. The result is How We Love: Notes on a Life.

A collection of sharply observed personal essays exploring love in all its soul enriching, confusing, murky, and emotionally crushing forms, How We Love reveals a self-described “softer” side to the author and, fittingly, was selected for NICO’s debut Book Club event, hosted in partnership with Sydney’s Jerico Contemporary gallery. 

A long-time advocate of Australia’s creative arts scene, NICO’s founder and designer Lis Harvey often seeks inspiration from literature, film, art and music for her collections. Of the brand’s winter release, Harvey explains it explores the ‘nuances of femininity’ and, as does Ford, ‘acknowledges and celebrates the many shades of femininity that can exist in one person’. 

And so, surrounded by other members of NICO’s extensive community – some old friends, some new – we delved into Ford’s depictions of love and shared stories of our own. We cringed at her accurate portrayals of adolescent lust and school yard hierarchies, and that revelation that so often people remember you differently to how you remember yourself. We collectively exhaled in relief at her honesty surrounding motherhood and laughed at her tales of dating misadventures. 

Ford’s writing is confessional, at times bittersweet, darkly comedic, and always vulnerable. How We Love is also (perhaps, most importantly) an open door through which readers might begin to examine their own relationships with love."

Discussion points:

  • The book’s chapters explore love through some formative life experience. Which one, if any, resonated with you the most?
  • Did How We Love offer you a new or changed perspective on what constitutes a relationship?
  • How, if at all, did Clementine Ford’s previous writing impact your opinion of How We Love?
  • In your opinion, what makes for a good contemporary memoir?
  • Would you recommend How We Love to a friend?
  • What did you think of the writing style, and its structure?

Victoria Pearson is a certified marriage celebrant and writer, whose work has appeared in publications such as RUSSH, The Guardian and T Magazine Australia (NYT).

Matilda Dodds holds Clementine Fords How We Love

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