Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
|Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luci Davin|
|Summary: Laura plans revenge after losing her 9 year old daughter in an accident, in a beautifully written and utterly compelling novel.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
Two police officers knock on Laura's door. They break the news to her that her 9 year old daughter Betty has been run over and killed. Betty's friend Willow is in hospital. Immediately, I was drawn into this story of a mother's worst nightmare coming true.
I hesitate to read stories about bad things happening to children, especially now I have my own, but I have enjoyed several of Louise Doughty's five previous novels, and I decided to take the risk of reading something that might upset me. I did find it upsetting, unsettling, thought provoking and utterly compelling, as Laura contemplates taking a terrible revenge:
I am calm as I make this promise: I am going to find out what you love, then whatever it is, I am going to track it down and I am going to take it away from you.
In her grief, Laura has many shocking but totally believable thoughts, such as jealousy of Willow's mother that her daughter is still alive. Doughty's descriptions of the days following the tragedy, of Laura attending the funeral, struggling to deal with her younger child Rees are interspersed with Laura's memories of her passionate relationship with her ex-husband David and of her dead daughter. Picking out some of the details from the book, they would seem hard to relate to or to understand, but while I was reading, I was totally caught up in the emotional power of the story. Laura's mental health is understandably precarious.
While a lot of the novel is taken up with reflections on the past, Laura's plan for revenge on the driver who killed her daughter adds some plot and suspense to the story.
This powerful, disturbing and beautifully written novel is highly recommended.
Thank you to Faber & Faber for sending a copy of Whatever You Love to The Bookbag.
I cannot think of anything similar to recommend but another novel about motherhood and about a relationship, told from the viewpoint of a woman remembering her past, is Repeat After Me by Rachel DeWoskin.
You can read more book reviews or buy Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty at Amazon.com.
Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty is in the Orange Prize 2011.
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