Sunday, 5 December 2010

Whatever You Love

Title: Whatever You Love

Author: Louise Doughty

Number of pages: 320

Started: 1 December 2010

Finished: 5 December 2010

Opening words:

Muscle has memory; the body knows things the brain will not admit. Police officers were at my door – uniformed, arranged – yet even as the door swung open upon them, which was surely the moment that I knew, even then, my conscious self was seeking other explanations, turning round and around, like a rat in a cage.

Plot summary:

Two police officers knock on Laura’s door. They tell her that her nine-year old daughter Betty has been hit by a car and killed. When justice is slow, Laura decides to take her own revenge and begins to track down the man responsible. Laura’s grief reopens old wounds and she is thrown back to the story of her passionate love affair with Betty’s father David, their marriage and his subsequent desertion of her for another woman. Haunted by her past and driven by her need to discover the truth, Laura discovers just how far she is prepared to go for love, desire and retribution.

What I thought:

This was a very readable book, and not the tale of revenge and retribution that the blurb about the book would suggest. It was a sad tale centred around the death of a nine year old in a road traffic accident. It mainly focuses on her mother, and the people her mother then comes into contact with. From that perspective it was quite moving. However, in other ways the book lacked some credibility.

I thought, as is the case with others on the Costs shortlist, there were two many plots trying to be crow-barred into the book. There was the grief around the death, relationship issues, anonymous letters, and a disappearance – to name but a few. I felt that having so many different plots in some ways detracted from each of the others, and they did not all serve a helpful purpose in furthering the story.

It was a decent read, but could have done with being more focussed in terms of the stories it explored and the final quarter of the book was somewhat of an unnecessary diversion from a tale of dealing with a child’s death.

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