Meg Dunley's Reviews > Whatever You Love

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
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's review
Dec 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: grief, love, relationships, family, book-club, death, fiction
Read in February, 2011

A gripping and devasting story of tragic grief & pain. This book had me crying openly on the train. The rawness that Louise was able to capture of Laura's painful journey through the years, climaxing at the moment of her daughter's accident was deep and heartfelt. The pain of the the bitter icy cold that Eastley, where it was set, seemed to offer, with the winds that were sharp and cold was a good reflection of what Laura was going through with the sudden and tragic loss of her daughter, Betty.

It was an interesting effect jumping 'before' and 'after' throughout the story, allowing me, the reader, to slowly get a clearer insight into the whole picture through all of the windows of Laura's life and the relationships around her. Louise leads the reader into the circumstances around the accident slowly, allowing the reader to fully understand the depth of pain that a mother feels at the loss of a child.

Whilst we are seeing it all through Laura's eyes, we gain more & more understanding of the situation and circumstances leading up to it and how each of the characters interrelate with each other and her and the tragic moment.

Louise gives each of the characters great depth. She explores Laura's ex-husband David and the pain and love that was still there, and his new partner Chloe, and all of her issues that came with her and the relationship of being the new partner as well as their young boy, Harry and her over-controlling mother. Louise explores what the effect of the tragic circumstances on top of separation has on the younger child, Rees, who comes across as a little neglected, watching his mother going through an incredibly difficult time and needing just a normal life. Whilst Laura's relationship with the father, Mr A, of the driver of car who killed her daughter seems inappropriate, it does explore the issue of what really is appropriate in grief? When pushed to the extremity of pain and loss, what does one do, and how does one go on?.

Louise Doughty gives a measured approach to her story by letting out little by little, and recalling detail, which in some circumstances may seem tedious, in this, proved to work wonderfully. The ending was perhaps a little neat..

A tragic story told in an empathetic way.

Unfortunately I read this just two weeks before an incredibly similar tragic accident in my community (just around the corner) which immediately put me in the Laura's head, probably giving me a greater understanding of what the mother may have been going through (thank you Louise), however, it did send me into the depths of grief and made me cling to my kids with love and tenderness. A book of pain and grief.

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