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Whatever You Love

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  1,939 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
I study the photo in the same way that a spy might study the face of a counterpart in a rival organization. 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.

After the death of Laura's nine-year-old daughter, Betty, is ruled an accident in a hit-and-run, Laura dec
Trade Paperback, 307 pages
Published June 3rd 2010 by Faber & Faber (first published 2010)
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Mar 27, 2012 Patty rated it did not like it
This book purports to be about the revenge sought by a mother after the hit and run death of her 9 year old daughter Betty, but it read more like the memoir of the mother rather than a tale of retribution.

Laura goes back and forth in time telling of life pre and post accident; that being the defining moment in her life. She describes how she meets and falls in love with Betty's father David, his subsequent defection for a younger woman Chloe and the moment in time that breaks both Laura and Davi
Feb 26, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been really blown away by this novel, it's one of those stories that you really really need to keep on reading, one of those that is almost impossible to put down, with clever twists and turns throughout the very well woven plot.

The main plotline is one that puts the fear into any parent; the unexpected and accidental death of a child. Betty is the nine-year old daughter of Laura and David, the prologue of the story is the moment that Laura realises that there are two police officers on h
Feb 10, 2011 Margaret rated it really liked it
Set in a coastal English town this is, as it says in the blurb, an � astonishing and emotionally-charged novel�, about Laura whose nine-year old daughter, Betty has been killed by a hit and run driver. Laura tells her story alternating between events before Betty� s death � how she met and married David, Betty� s father, their subsequent divorce after his affair with Chloe � and after Betty� s death. Laura�'s grief is palpable, which makes this a harrowing book to read. It is also startling and ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Rose rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What an unpleasant story. 2 stars because it was well written, but no more because the story was just so bleak throughout. I couldn't find any light, I felt almost dirty reading this. Everything was so bad for everyone & there was just no hope, nothing at all was ok & would never be ok. The protagonist had my sympathies as a mother living with imaginable loss, but quickly earned my disgust for the person she had been & was turning into. The story of her marriage was boring & I fo ...more
Ann Douglas
Apr 10, 2011 Ann Douglas rated it really liked it
I came across this book by chance and was immediately captivated by the focus of the book: a mother's grief after the death of her daughter. But the book is about so much more than that: it explores her complicated relationship with her daughter's father, class and racial tensions in a small town, motherhood and guilt, relationships and guilt, and the choices we make when impossible circumstances become our new normal. The twists and turns in this novel make it feel like a thriller: it is an emo ...more
May 01, 2014 Helen rated it liked it
I enjoyed the Apple Tree Yard so much (gripping, fantastic story-line intelligently and sympathetically written) that I picked up this one by Louise Doughty.

This was not as good though there were several similarities in addition to the writing style and the way the book was paced. I dropped a star as the subject matter, woman losing her 9 year old daughter in a hit and run accident, made for hard reading and another star as the book didn't develop how I thought, and hoped, it might.

Both books l
Jul 24, 2011 Pamela rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 16, 2014 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still reading this but it is impossible to put down and when I do I'm wandering around thinking about what is going on in the story as if the characters were real people. Death of a child, divorce, these are not things I've personally experienced but Doughty brings those situations to life.

Louise Doughty is a very skilled storyteller. She gets you completely inside Laura's head, I really feel for everything she's going through.

However, I'm amazed at some of the negative reviews on here aga
Steve lovell
Jul 09, 2013 Steve lovell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sex. I think Louise Doughty has a problem with sex. Not in the real world I hasten to add. Judging from the author’s image presented in ‘Whatever You Love,’ she appears as an attractive woman of a certain age perfectly at ease with herself in her world – if you can judge anything from a photo. No, I am referring to her writing of it in this title. Otherwise she is a creditably gifted writer whom I first cottoned onto with ‘Crazy Paving’, her first published offering and one I enjoyed. ‘Dance wit
Jul 15, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Laura's daughter is killed in a pedestrian/car accident and the driver is not charged. Laura decides that the driver must pay, but not with his own life, but with that of 'whatever he loves' so that he can feel what it's like to live with that pain she feels.

Very thoughtful writing, flows well, and didn't disappoint!

Favorite Quotes:

"I still didn't know any different, there in Lorraine's kitchen, but what came to me then was an awareness that I didn't know any different---knowledge that my ignor
Aug 05, 2010 DubaiReader rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lter, 2010
Full of raw emotion, brilliant.

I really enjoyed this book - in as much as you can enjoy reading about bereavement. It was very well written, full of raw emotion, yet not merely a sob story.

Betty, the 9 year old victim of a hit-and-run, dies in the opening pages of the book - we only get to know her in memory flashes and she retains a ghost-like feel. For her parents, David and Laura, the world ends on that day. Her three year old brother doesn't really understand what has happened but some sense
Dec 07, 2010 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction, 2010
There's no doubt that this is extremely well-written, and from a written perspective it deserves 5 stars. As for whast I think of the story, the jury's still out, which is why I've given it only 3 stars. The main character Laura, who despite having been through the mill, really is quite horrible - as are many of the other players.

The story begins with the death of Laura's 9 year old daughter, Betty, who is hit by a car while walking to dance class after school. The story then moves back in time
Cleo Bannister
Dec 29, 2013 Cleo Bannister rated it it was amazing
This book starts with the police turning up at Laura's door to tell her that her daughter Betty has died. It is a brutal start and the main theme of the book is Laura dealing with her loss, but this book is so much more than that. Part 1 of the book details Laura's early relationship with her now ex-husband David, the scenes are well written the lust she felt for him leaps off the pages and it is soon apparent that this book is also about Laura losing David to Chloe, his new wife.

This book is so
Oct 22, 2011 Andrienne rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book and wow, I had to bump it up another star because I'm still thinking about it. It seems like every time I get my hands on a good novel, the author turns out to be English (another favorite is Sophie Hannah). The writing is superb. I found myself going over some lines just to savor them. "We fill our lives to the top of the cup, with routine so brimming that routine is the whole fabric of life, its meat and material." (p. 224) The story is not feel-good, quite the opposi ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Nykki rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Besley
Apr 19, 2012 Laura Besley rated it really liked it
Despite the macabre topic of this book, it was an easy and good read. Not all the events took place chronologically, so it was nice to feel that as the reader you were challenged to piece the story together.

Not having dealt with anything half as traumatic as the subject matter of this book (and obviously hope never to have to) I felt that the way Laura, the main character, dealt with the events was plausible and credible. She did things that were shocking, she did things that were repulsive and
This is a very dark book which looks at how a huge, tragic event changes someone's life. Laura, the narrator, divides her life into before and after the event and is profoundly altered by it. She describes in great detail what has happened to her and shows the reader her reaction to it, including some odd choices.

Laura seems to be a very real character, struggling to make sense of what has happened when there is no sense to be found. Most of the other characters seem equally real, though I found
Jun 08, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Really enjoyed the controlled menace and emotional ambiguities of this book. The tight spare writing established a chilling mood and things moved at a brisk pace through scenes both deeply shocking and domestically banal. Really creative and bold, I think -- especially the fundamental choice to leave an essential question unanswered (unless you take the narrator's answer at face value, and after spending 300 pages with her, you know better than to do that).

A book about maternal love, but more es
Richard Lloyd
Mar 18, 2014 Richard Lloyd rated it really liked it
Disturbing at times, raw and emotional. What I liked most is some of the authors descriptions of what characters are thinking. Times when I found myself nodding and thinking, yes I know that feeling but wouldn't have described it in that way. Such a tough topic to write about and one of life's tragedies that you have no way of preparing for or even considering how one might react. The humanness and slight edgy characters I enjoyed. In one review I read it said "Louise Doughty has never shied awa ...more
Aug 17, 2012 Pam rated it it was ok
The main description of what this novel was about was revenge for the death of the main character's daughter. It did not live up to that; there was very little about revenge and what there was was so convoluted I wasn't sure if it was even suppose to be revenge.
I didn't become very interested until almost a third of the way into it and just about the time I thought it might pick up, it went downhill again. I figured out the main mystery about that time, long before the main character did, and so
Apr 15, 2012 Eileen rated it it was amazing
Mesmerizing! Perfect for the long plane ride! It's very well written and I dreaded coming to the end! It is the story of a mother driven somewhat mad by the death of her child in a hit and run accident. Initially, she is determined to seek retribution at any cost. The writing flows beautifully, and I found myself hooked from the first page. Louise Doughty varies the tense in such a way as to keep the reader slightly off balance. One is given brief glimpses of the little girl, and snippets of her ...more
Allison Long
May 02, 2012 Allison Long rated it really liked it
At the 2011 Cuirt International Literary Festival, Louise Doughty read from her upcoming novel, 'Whatever You Love'. I enjoyed it, but wasn't sure I wanted to read the book. Besides, I'm notoriously bad about remembering books I promise myself to read (another reason to love Goodreads, never forget a book again!). Cue to a year later and I'm back in the States at my local library, looking at new releases. There it was and I missed Galway so suddenly, I had to read the book immediately because it ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Icewineanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
Before there was Girl On A Train & The Silent Wife there was Louise Doughty. She also writes stories of loss with obsessed, mentally unstable characters. But unlike "Silent Wife" & "Girl", I enjoyed this novel far more.
The writing here is much better and her characters, although not likeable, are fascinating in their own way.

The book revolves around a woman who first loses her husband to another woman and then later her daughter to an accident. The book is divided into "Before" and "Af
Jun 13, 2015 Icewineanne rated it really liked it
Before there was Girl On A Train & The Silent Wife there was Louise Doughty. She also writes stories of loss with obsessed, mentally unstable characters. But unlike "Silent Wife" & "Girl", I enjoyed this novel far more.
The writing here is much better and her characters, although not likeable, are fascinating in their own way.

The book revolves around a woman who first loses her husband to another woman and then later her daughter to an accident. The book is divided into "Before" and "Af
Elaine Oliveira
Apr 19, 2011 Elaine Oliveira rated it did not like it
Shelves: lc
I can't deny that Louise Doughty is a talented writer, but I can't deal with this sort of book either. The only reason I finished it is because it was a work assingment, otherwise I would have quit by page 80.

Don't get me wrong, if you enjoy anguish-filled thrillers this is what you wish to find every time you walk into a bookshop. But Im not that kind of person.

Although this plotline reflects what, unfortunately, many mothers have been through, it does not leave any room for hope. I believe t
Hemmie Martin
Jul 09, 2013 Hemmie Martin rated it liked it
I read this novel quickly as I was eager to reach the denouement, but I was a little let down by it. But let me start at the beginning.
It's a poignant story about losing a child by a hit and run driver. The story sways between the past and present and you feel every nuance of pain the mother, especially, feels. I feel tears prick my eyes at times, and the urgency to read is palpable.
At times it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, but seemingly with reason. However, the denouement let me
Jan 21, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it

This author takes you along on the journey of a shattered heart, mind and life without once becoming maudlin or weepy.

A note worth mentioning: the promos for the book present it as a book solely of revenge, but this is inaccurate. The revenge takes up a very small part of the story near the end. It is the story of a family, of love, of devastation. All the while there is a sense of mystery and something lingering just around the corner that you can't see. I would certainly read another of this a
Hazel McHaffie
Feb 02, 2011 Hazel McHaffie rated it it was ok
I enjoyed Louise Doughty's column in the Saturday Telegraph 'A Novel in a Year', and was keen to read a finished work of hers. The subject matter of 'Whatever you Love' appealed: a 9-year-old girl is killed in a car accident; her parents struggle to deal with the aftermath. And the opening pages set the scene enticingly. But I found the characters and story increasingly unconvincing and lacking in pace - in want of a hefty edit. So for me it didn't live up to its early promise.
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
Cherie Magnus
Feb 15, 2012 Cherie Magnus rated it it was ok
I was intrigued at the beginning, but because of so many details (someone was always putting the kettle on for tea), and lots of repetition, I lost patience. And the ending wasn't worth the effort. Good writing, but she loses the reader. I kept wondering, why doesn't she return to work to give her something to do besides putting on the kettle and seducing the most unlikely of partners. Maybe you have to be British, I don't know...
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Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. ISBN instead of ASIN in this edition 5 23 Apr 14, 2015 10:59AM  
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Louise Doughty is a novelist, playwright and critic. She is the author of five novels; CRAZY PAVING, DANCE WITH ME, HONEY-DEW, FIRES IN THE DARK and STONE CRADLE, and one work of non-fiction A NOVEL IN A YEAR. She has also written five plays for radio. She has worked widely as a critic and broadcaster in the UK, where she lives, and was a judge for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

More about Louise Doughty...

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“Love built on pain-the kind that lasts: whatever you love can be taken away from us at any moment but the loss of what we love belongs to us forever.” 14 likes
“You should remind yourself that what you love is mortal, that what you love is not your own. It is granted to you the present while, and not irrevocably, nor for ever, but like a fig or a bunch of grapes in the appointed season and if you long for it in the winter, you are a fool.” 3 likes
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