I don’t know how I’m ever supposed to do this review.
So, let me start with the Quick and Dirty before I even go into the melo-drama of it. This book is a galley from Harper Perennial, but was originally published in England by Faber & Faber. It was on the long list for the Orange Prize for Fiction and also received the 2010 Costa Novel Prize. I had no idea about any of this when I picked it to read from Harper Perennial, it just said, “a book you can’t put down” on the back, and if it’s not a murder mystery, I love a book I can’t stop reading. Literally, if I can eat your words for breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe a brief snack at three o’clock when my stomach starts embarrassing me with its baritone…we can totally work out a time and a place.
I get it from my father (the incessant reading, I mean…in case you’re already lost)- it’s in my genes, runs through the roots of my family tree.
Here is an interview with Louise Doughty.
Here is Louise Doughty’s website.
I think she has an oval, sad face for an author. I think more recently author’s have turned to “cheesing” in their book jackets like they went to Sears and a butter-belly of a man held up small, jangling toys to get them to smile and look like they have just written the most raucous sex novel and had a wild tromp with the main character themselves. (See, my all time favorite – totally sarcastic – Jodi Picoult). However, Louise is dignified. What else can we expect from a woman with the name Louise anyhow? I believe she should be drinking tea with the British Parliament and enjoying a quick round of croquet on the grounds. That’s just me, personally, inserting my unwarranted commentary.
Regardless of whether she drowns in green tea or not, this is her sixth novel. I’ve never actually heard of her before (I think it’s because her book covers look like Patti Callahan Henry book covers and those books always depress me from their multi-emotional love stories and so I avoid at all costs when carousing the shelves of Barnes and Noble, pointer finger extended, brushing the book cracks. I think it’s safe to say though, that when your book gets reviewed in Financial Times you’ve made it. I never knew that Mr. Money-bags Moustache was interested in “gripping, and devastatingly efficient prose”
I think you can tell from the last few paragraphs I am blatantly ignoring this review.
I’m putting it off.
I’m slowing my pace.
I’m dressing up as a tortoise, I’ve got the trash can lid strapped to my back.
I guess it’s time now though, time to explain the nothingness I felt at this book’s completion. I don’t honestly know how to feel. So many things just happened to me. I was so on the side of the main character, Laura, and so gung-ho for her battle against the world, and her battle for “Whatever she Loves” and then in the end, I’m forced into this notion that she could be a complete psychopath. I’ve thrown a water bottle before, I know how that happens. One second, your calm and composed, the next you’ve busted your knee open on a rock and you need to smash something over someone’s head – completely understandable (right?)…
Sometimes love may take us down roads that no logical person can force us out of. It’s like getting lost in the woods with a giant knife, but you’re a vegetarian….do you do the unthinkable? (Slice slowly a tree branch, duh. Vegetarians are also tree huggers people, COME ON).
In an effort, to collect myself, and my emotional belongings back from these characters, (that would be at least three suitcases and a jewelry box) I’ve been reading other reviews to give clarity on where I should put my faith in a book written this way. I think I was personally offended by the majority of these, especially this one:
“If I was going to recommend a light, entertaining read, something that goes down easily without having to think about it too much, I’d suggest this one. Louise Doughty’s ninth novel, Whatever You Love, isn’t high-brow literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it is accessible and enjoyable, and I suspect when it’s released in trade paperback size it will do very nicely sales wise, thank-you very much.” by Kimbofo
While I didn’t think the writing was exceptional, or required many high-lighter sticky notes, I didn’t think this was a “light, or easy” read “by any stretch of the imagination.” It definitely is accessible in the way that you think you could maybe murder someone, or rob a bank if you had too..and it’s enjoyable if you like a novel that you can’t stop reading, but includes major emotional downfalls and disturbing, “what-ifs” about break ups.
I think my problem with this book, and all of a sudden everything related to it, is that I went in thinking this was a grief story. It’s told from the perspective of Laura, who has two children she is raising alone because her thrill-seeking, good-for-nothing husband, David, has been having an affair with Chloe (a woman who looks like a angelic mouse). Can you tell whose team I’m on?
However, the second half of the book becomes psychological thriller. So, here’s the thing: your daughter is killed in a hit & run, and your husband has left you in the last year for a mousier blonde woman, and all of a sudden you turn …
You just turn. That was the end of that sentence. I can’t give away anything that Laura does after this, but it’s all so unexpected and all so raw. And I’m reading this book, half-thinking-”no one could ever do that, right? That’s the unthinkable, she’s crossed major lines, had many party fouls here,” but then the other half is saying-”I could do that, I could take him upstairs, I could carry a knife, maybe I could even throw someone over a cliff if my child was killed, and my husband was a cheating bastard.”
I just don’t know how to feel.
How are you supposed to feel when you understand someone’s built-up rage, but it breaks all your theories on your own moral code?
Let me let someone else just review this book for you.
- Beauty is a Sleeping Cat (Love the blog name).
- The Thought Fox.
- Buried in Print.
- The Book Bag.