The Love of Her Life

( 40 )

Overview


From the author of A Hopeless Romantic and Going Home comes an engaging new novel about a young woman who suffers loss and heartbreak—only to regain a chance at happiness when she least expects it.

Thirty-year-old Kate Miller fled London two years ago when her life fell apart spectacularly. Living in New York with her mother and stepfather and working half-heartedly as a literary agent, Kate must return to ...

See more details below
Paperback (Original)
$13.66
BN.com price
(Save 14%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (101) from $1.99   
  • New (26) from $1.99   
  • Used (75) from $1.99   
The Love of Her Life

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.66
BN.com price

Overview


From the author of A Hopeless Romantic and Going Home comes an engaging new novel about a young woman who suffers loss and heartbreak—only to regain a chance at happiness when she least expects it.

Thirty-year-old Kate Miller fled London two years ago when her life fell apart spectacularly. Living in New York with her mother and stepfather and working half-heartedly as a literary agent, Kate must return to London when her father, a famous classical musician, undergoes a kidney transplant. She’s only returning for a short visit, or so she thinks. But once in London, she faces the friends who are bound with her forever as a result of one day when life changed for all of them. What really happened before Kate left London? And can she pick up the pieces and allow herself to love her own life again?

Witty, smart, and entertaining, Evans’s heartwarming tale, which was a bestseller in the United Kingdom earlier this year, will delight readers who enjoy novels by Cathy Kelly, Hester Browne, and Marian Keyes.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439113158
  • Publisher: Downtown Press
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 768,240
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Harriet Evans
is editorial director of Headline Book Publishing. She lives in London and is working on her next novel.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

One
New York
2007

Her father wasn't well. They kept saying she shouldn't worry too much, but she should still come back to London. He had had an operation — emergency kidney transplant; he'd been bumped right up the list. He was lucky to get one, considering his lifestyle, his age, everything. They kept saying that, too. Kate had even been tested, to see if she could be a donor. She couldn't, which made her feel like a bad daughter.

It all happened so suddenly. It was Monday afternoon when she got the call telling her it had happened, the previous day, after a kidney miraculously became available. He'd been unwell for a few years now, the diabetes and the drinking — and the stress of his new life, he was busier than ever — but how had it got to this, got so far? Apparently he had collapsed; the next day he'd been put at the top of the transplant list. That afternoon, Kate's stepmother, Lisa, had rung to let her know.

"I think he'd very much like to see you." Lisa's rather nasal voice was not improved by the tinny phone line.

"Of — of course," Kate said. She cast around for something to say. "Oh God. How...how is he now?"

"He's alive, Kate. It was very sudden. But he's got much, much worse these last few months. So he's not that well. And he'd like to see you. Like I say. He misses you."

"Yes," said Kate. Her throat was dry, her heart was pounding. "Yes. Yes, of course."

"He's going to be in intensive care for a few days, you know. Can you come next week? You can get the time off at the office, I presume." Lisa made no other comment, but a variety of the comments she could make hung in the air, and rushing in next to them came millions of other guilty thoughts, all jostling for attention in front of Kate till she couldn't see anything. She rubbed her eyes with one hand as she cradled the phone on her shoulder. Her darling dad, and she hadn't seen him for eighteen months, hadn't been back to London for a real visit in nearly three years. How the hell...? Was this emergency, his rapid decline, was it her fault? No, of course it wasn't, but still, Kate couldn't escape the thought that she had made him ill herself, as certainly as if she had stuck a knife into him.

Out of the window, Manhattan looked calm and still, the gray monolithic buildings giving no clue to the arctic weather, the noise, the hustle, the sweet crazy smell of toasted sugar and tar that hit you every time you went outside, the city she had grown used to, fallen in love with, the city that had long ago replaced London in her affections. Kate looked around the office of the literary agency where she worked. It was a small place, only four full-time members of staff. Bruce Perry, the boss, was in his office, talking on the phone. Kate could see his head bobbing up and down as he violently agreed with someone and what they were saying. Doris, the malevolent old bookkeeper from Queens who openly hated Kate, was pretending to type but in reality was listening to Kate's conversation, trying to work out what was going on. Megan, the junior agent, was in the far corner, tapping a pencil against her keyboard.

"Kate?" said Lisa, breaking into Kate's thoughts. "Look, I can't force you to come back, but..." She cleared her throat, and Kate could hear the sound echo in the cavernous basement kitchen of her father and Lisa's flashy new home in Notting Hill.

"Of course I'll come," Kate heard herself say, and she crouched into herself, flushed with shame, hoping Doris hadn't heard her.

"You will?" Lisa said, and Kate could hear incredulity and something else — yes, pleading — in her voice, and she was horrified at herself, at how cold she was capable of being to Lisa. Her father was ill, for God's sake. Dad.

It was time to get a grip and go back home. And so Kate put the phone down, booked a flight for Saturday evening, getting into London on Sunday morning. Then she went into Bruce Perry's office to ask for two weeks off. No more. She wasn't staying there any longer than she had to.

Bruce had grimaced a bit, but he'd been fine about giving her the time off. Perry and Co. was not exactly the fast-paced business unit it might have been, which is why Kate had got her job as assistant there in the first place. In fact, to the outside eye, but for one author, Anne Graves, it would seem to be a mystery that they managed to stay in business, employing as they did five people, and with no books sold to any major publisher, no scripts sold to any studio, for years and years, so it would seem.

"Where will you stay?" Bruce asked. "Will you go to your dad's?"

"No," said Kate firmly. "I've...I've actually got a place there." Bruce raised his eyebrows, and Kate could see Doris put down her ledger and look up, intrigued.

"Your own place?"

"It's...kind of," Kate told him. She cleared her throat. "I part own it. I was renting it out, but they've just left. Last month."

"Good timing," said Bruce, pleased. "That's great!"

"Yes," said Kate. She wasn't sure that it was good timing, the ending of Gemma's rental lease coinciding with her father's emergency kidney transplant, but still, look for the silver lining, as her mother was always telling her. She shook her head, still trying to come to terms with it. "Wow," she said out loud. "I'm going back to London. Wow." She bit her thumb. "I'd better see if I can get hold of Dad. Lisa said he'd be awake in a little while...."

"Well, what will we do without you," Bruce said, more for effect than sounding like he meant it. He stood up languidly. "Hurry back, now!"

"I will," said Kate, although she was kind of sure she could simply not ever appear again and all they'd need to do after a few weeks would be to hire a temp to filter through the fan letters to Anne Graves. "I'm sorry to leave you in the lurch like this — "

"Oh, honey," Doris said, standing up and coming over. She patted Kate's arm. Kate reared back in horror, since usually Doris wore a murderous expression when she came near her. "Don't you worry about that. My niece, Lorraine, she can cover for you. She'll do a real good job, too, you know it, Bruce."

"Great idea!" Bruce said happily.

He went back into his office, whistling, as Kate swung back around toward her computer. She bit her lip, not sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry.

Kate walked home that night, the twenty-odd blocks that took her back to her mother and Oscar's apartment, a slight feeling of unease hanging over her about the task that lay ahead of her, and the conversation she would have to have with her mother and stepfather. It was a milder March night than it had been thus far that year, and though it was dark and the clocks wouldn't go forward till Sunday, there was still a sense that spring was in the air. She walked up Broadway, following its slicing path through her beloved Manhattan. She didn't try to think about anything, just walked her usual walk, drinking it all in. This was her home. Here she could walk the streets and be part of the glorious, jostling mass of humanity, anonymous even if she wore a pink wig and rode a giraffe. No one here cared, no one here recognized her, knew her. Here she bumped into no old school friends, work colleagues; here she saw no ghosts getting in her way. Just the wide stretch of the road, leaving midtown behind her, as she headed up past Lincoln Center, watching the lights get dimmer, a little cozier, seeing people out running, walking their dogs, living their lives in the thick of the metropolis — that was what she loved best about New York.

She knew she was nearly home when she got to Zabar's. The huge, cheery famous deli was as busy as ever. Families doing latenight shopping, solitary coffee drinkers hunched over a paper in the cafe. Warmth, light, color bursting out of every pore. Kate stared in through the window. They were advertising gefilte fish for Passover, only a few weeks away in mid-April. I'll be back by then, she thought. Only a couple of weeks. Really, that's all it is.

Dad's going to be fine, she told herself as the traffic purred beside her and she looked wildly around, wondering where she was for a moment. She thought about him for a minute, considering with terrified fascination what it would be like to see him again. Her father, so tall, so commanding, so handsome and charismatic, always the center of the room — what would he be like now, what would his life be like after this operation? What if the kidney didn't work? How had it come to this, that she could push down the love she had for him, push it down so far inside her she had been able to pretend, for a while, that it was all ok?

But she knew the answer. She'd become an expert at the answer, since she'd left London.

Deep inside her came a stabbing pain at the top of her breastbone. Kate gently rubbed her collarbone, as her eyes filled with painful tears. But she could not cry, not here, not now. If she started, she might never stop.

I'll go back, see Dad, make sure he's OK, check on the flat, try and find a new tenant.

And I'll see Zoe.

At the thought of seeing her best friend after all this time, Kate felt the hairs on her neck stand up, and though the memory of what had happened still sliced at her, she smiled, a small smile, until she realized she was grinning through the window at a rather bewildered old man with thick white hair, who was trying to read his paper in peace. Kate blushed, and hurried on.

It was Oscar's sixtieth birthday in a few weeks, and Venetia, Kate's mother, had given him his present — a brand-new baby grand piano — early, back in January. As Kate arrived at the apartment building, on Riverside Drive, the window of Venetia and Oscar's apartment was open, and Kate could hear the sound of the piano floating down to her on the sidewalk.

"Hello there, Kate!" Maurice, the doorman, called happily, opening the door for her into the small marbled foyer. He pushed the button for the elevator. Kate smiled at him, a little wearily.

"How are you, Maurice?" she said.

"I'm just fine," said Maurice. "I'm pretty good. That spray you told me to get, for my back — well, I bought it yesterday, I meant to say. And it's done a lot of good."

"Really?" said Kate, pleased. "That's great, Maurice. I'm so glad."

"I owe you, Kate, that's for sure. It just went away after I used that spray."

Kate got into the lift. "Good-o. That's brilliant."

"Hold the elevator!" came a querulous voice, and Mrs. Cohen, still elegant, tall, refined in a powder blue suit, shuffled into the lobby. "Kate, dear, hold the elevator! Hello, Maurice. Would you be a dear, and — "

"I'll get the bags from the cab," said Maurice, nodding. "You wait here."

There were times when the geriatric street theater of the apartment building made Kate's day; there were other times when she would have given fifty dollars to see someone her own age in the lift. Just once. When they were installed in the lift, bags and all, and when Kate had helped Mrs. Cohen to her door and put her bags in her hallway, she climbed the last flight up to her mother's apartment, hearing the sound of the piano again as she reached the sixth floor.

Venetia was born to be a New Yorker; it was hard to believe she'd ever lived anywhere else, really. Of course, Kate could remember her in London, but it seemed rather unreal now. The mother she'd had until the age of fourteen, when, the day after Kate's birthday, Venetia had left her and her dad, was like a character Kate remembered watching in a film, not her actual, own mother. She had to remind herself that it was Venetia who'd picked her up from school every day, Venetia who'd smoothed her hair back when she'd been sick after eating some scrambled eggs when she was eight, Venetia who'd collected her from the Brownie camp in the New Forest a day early after Kate had cried all night for her. The idea that she and Kate's father had lived together — that Venetia had taken Kate to watch Daniel play at the Royal Albert Hall, that she had entertained myriad numbers of Daniel's friends in their cluttered basement in the tall house in Kentish Town, had wiped tables down, collected wine bottles up, fielded calls from agents and journalists and critics and young, lithe music students — had long disappeared. She was a New Yorker now, and more important, Kate thought, she was the star of her own show.

Venetia and Oscar's apartment was straight out of Annie Hall — from the framed Saul Steinberg prints and posters of the Guys and Dolls revival that Oscar had done a couple of years ago to the copies of The New Yorker on the coffee table; the view out over Riverside Drive in the long, low room that served as a sitting room, dining room, den and Oscar's office (he worked at home mostly; he was an arranger, a composer and a conductor); the pictures of Kate in silver frames that she always found hugely embarrassing: her as a baby, sucking her toes, sitting on a lawn somewhere (Kate never knew where; there was no lawn in the Kentish Town house); her smiling rather rigidly outside her college after getting her degree; with her mother, the first time she came to New York to visit, when Kate was fifteen, just after Venetia had married Oscar. And there was one she always wanted to take down, just because: Kate, beaming, holding the first issue of Venus, the magazine she'd worked on in London. There had been other photos, other remnants of Kate's life. They had been taken down — no one wanted to see them, now.

As Kate opened the door to the apartment, the smell of onions, something cooking, hit her. Her mother was in the tiny galley kitchen singing; Oscar was playing "Some Enchanted Evening" on the piano in the long room.

"Hi!" she called, injecting a note of jollity into her voice. "Something smells nice."

"Hello, darling!" Venetia appeared in the corridor, wiping her hands on her apron. "I'm making risotto, it's going to be lovely." She kissed her daughter. "Thanks for calling. It'll be ready in about fifteen minutes. How was your day? Did you get hold of Betty? She rang earlier. She was wondering if you wanted to meet for a drink on Friday."

Kate disentangled herself from her scarf, and from her mother, backing away toward the door to hang her things up. She pulled her long dark blond hair out from her coat and turned to her mother, chewing a lock of hair as she did.

"I'm starving," she said indistinctly. "I'll give her a call in a minute. Mum — "

Oscar called from the long room. "Hello, Katy! Come and say hi!"

Kate poked her head around the door. "Hi, Oscar," she said. "How was your day?"

"Honey, I'm home!" Oscar said joyously, launching into a ragtime version of "Luck Be a Lady." "I've been home all day!"

Oscar made this joke roughly three times a week. Kate smiled affectionately at him.

"What a lovely evening," she said, staring out over the Hudson at the purple-gray sunset. "I had such a nice walk back."

Oscar was only half listening. "That's good, dear," he said. "Would you like a drink? Venetia, can I get you another drink, darling?"

Venetia appeared, carrying her gin and tonic. "I'm fine with this one, thanks, darling," she said, carelessly caressing the back of her husband's neck as she passed by. "I'd better lay the table — darling, did I mention that I saw Kathy today? And she and Don can't make it to your party?"

"Dad's ill," Kate said. Her voice was louder than she'd meant. The room was suddenly deadly silent.

"What?" Venetia turned to look at her daughter. "What did you say?"

Kate gripped the side of the sofa. "Dad's really ill. He's had a kidney transplant. He's in intensive care."

"Oh my God," Oscar said, looking toward his wife. "That's — well, that's awful."

"I'm going home," said Kate. "On Saturday. To see him."

"Back to London?" her mother said. Her face was white.

"Yes," said Kate, shaking her head very slightly, willing her mother to do the right thing.

"My God," said Oscar. He chewed at a cuticle nervously. "Will he be...OK?"

"Yes, yes," said Kate, wanting to reassure them. "I mean — it's dangerous, but he's very lucky. I hope so — " She swallowed, as black dots danced in front of her eyes, and a wave of panic swept over her at the thought of it, her poor darling dad. "Yes, Lisa thinks he will be...."

Lisa's name dropped like a stone between them. It was Venetia who broke the silence. "You're going back Saturday? What time's your flight?"

"Nine. In the evening."

"Right." Venetia put her drink down; she patted her collarbone, her slim white fingers stroking her skin. "We'll drive you. Oh, darling. How long are you going for?"

"Two weeks, probably," said Kate, coming toward her. She wanted her reassurance, for her mother to tell her it was going to be OK, not just for her dad, but everything to do with it. "I'll be back for Oscar's party, of course I will — I'm just going to make sure he's OK."

"Course you do!" said Venetia. She put her arm around her daughter, squeezed her shoulders. "Darling, it's just — well. It'll be hard for you. That's all."

There was silence again in the room as Oscar looked from his wife to his stepdaughter. Kate gazed out of the window. The sunset was almost over; it was nearly dark.

"Yep," Kate said. "It will be hard." It felt strange; it felt alien here suddenly. She hated that feeling. "I had to go back sometime," she added, and Oscar nodded and sat back down at the piano. "Just wish it wasn't for this, that's all."

Copyright © 2008 by Harriet Evans

Read More Show Less

Introduction

This reading group guide for The Love of Her Life includes an discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion

1. When preparing to return to London, Kate remarks, "It will be hard.... I had to go back sometime...Just wish it wasn't for this, that's all" (p. 12). If not for her father's illness, do you think Kate would have gone back? Would she ever have returned to her old self in New York, or did she need to go back to London to rediscover herself? Do you agree with her that she is "too good at running away" (p. 21)?

2. Discuss Kate's "new self " vs. her "old self " (p. 14). Which Kate do you like better? Which one do you think Kate likes better? Would "old" Kate have shrugged off Andrew the way "new" Kate had at the beginning of the novel?

3. The scene where Kate reenters her old apartment is full of tumultuous emotion. What does Kate see that rips her feelings of comfort away and reminds her "why she was here" (p. 31)? Why do you think what she saw had that effect?

4. How does the author's use of foreshadowing intensify the moment when the reader finds out what really happened in Kate's past? How do the flashbacks add to this element? How would the book have been different if it started right after Kate graduated from college?

5. Kate and Mac's first encounter results in nothing more than a onenight stand, or so it seems. Why do you think Kate remarked that that night she had a"strange sense of certainty, one that she never got back again" (p. 108)? Does she ever get that certainty back? Why doesn't she make the effort to contact Mac once he leaves?

6. Sue Jordan, Kate's old boss, criticizes Kate for her current career choice. What is Kate's response? Why do you think she initially resisted Sue's offer to write the column? What does Sue mean when she says, "we're all the same, you know, it's just different versions of being the same" (p. 180)? Do you agree?

7. As the events of the novel unfold, it appears that Kate is becoming deeply entrenched in the city she tried to forget. How do her struggles with staying or leaving affect her interactions with Mac, Zoe, Francesca, and her family? Do you agree that "if the last few weeks had taught her anything, it was that she...had to start being brave and get out there" (p. 354)?

8. When Charly and Kate finally see each other after so many years, were you surprised to learn about Charly's boyfriend's ongoing infidelities? Why do all the good memories of their friendship come flooding back? Discuss how their conversation at the pub leads to Kate saying "...you [and your boyfriend] deserve each other, Charly, and I can't feel sorry for you" (p. 368).

9. Kate goes through a tremendous transformation throughout the novel. What makes Kate become comfortable with the person she is? Or does she never reach that milestone?

10. Before Kate returns to New York, Lisa remarks "...you were living the life you thought you ought to be living...I'm sure you wouldn't ask for any of what's happened. But it's been good for you" (p. 385). Do you agree with Lisa? Which experience do you think helped shape Kate the most? When is she at her weakest? Her strongest?

11. Did the ending of The Love of Her Life surprise you? Is this where Kate is meant to be? Is this the man whom she is meant to be with? Do you think she might run again, or is she here to stay? And why?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Harriet Evans recommends a cocktail she calls "The Harrie:" mix one part sloe gin to three parts champagne. Make some for your book club and give it a try.

2. Connections have been made between Evans's writing style and director Richard Curtis's style. Rent Curtis's Love Actually and see if you like it.

3. Ever had an Andrew, Mac, or Sean in your life? Care to tell the story? Spend a night with your book club talking about old flames!

Harriet Evans, a former publishing executive in the U.K.,  is the author of four novels.  She lives in London where she is writing her next novel.

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Why I Heart New York!
I grew up in London and lived my whole life there, apart from an adventurous three years at college 120 miles away. (That's far for England, you know; it's a small country.) I didn't go to New York until I was twenty-six, which is weird, because I was fixated on it from an early age. I don't know why I didn't go sooner. Perhaps because I didn't really go anywhere till I was twenty-six. A combination of indolence and paralysing shyness meant the rites-of-passage year off that many British people take before university was not an option for me. Perhaps because when I was a student the idea of travel was to go somewhere completely different, a remote island where people use large stone disks as money. You didn't travel to go somewhere that was a bit like home, only the cabs were yellow, the shops were better and people spoke the same language with a different accent. And perhaps I was afraid New York would be a let-down compared to the shimmering Paradise I had always held the city to be in my mind -- the New York of Annie Hall, the Plaza and Central Park in The Way We Were, and of Cagney and Lacey. (I loved that TV show so much I forced my mother to purchase me a flared corduroy skirt and knee-high boots in tribute to Cagney and Lacey and the way they strode insouciantly down Fifth Avenue, choppy bobs blowing in the breeze. It was an odd look on a nine-year old).

Or perhaps it was a little of all three.

I don't know why I worried, though. The first time I came to New York, we arrived at JFK late at night. We took a cab into Manhattan, and as we left the airport behind, the city sprang up in front of us, glittering with light. And -- this is the best part -- the cab driver's radio was tuned to an all-Sinatra station. I crossed the Queensboro Bridge for the first time listening to "Witchcraft." It doesn't get any better than that.

So when people ask me for recommendations of cool places to eat, shop, drink, and hang out in New York, I almost want to say: Don't worry, it's such a great city something magical will happen to you, too. Nevertheless, I have very clear ideas about what would constitute my dream day there. It is based on my love of three things in New York: root beer, food, and shopping. We don't really have root beer in the U.K. They tried to introduce it in MacDonald's in the 1980s. For some reason it never took. (Who wouldn't want to drink a cloyingly sweet drink that tastes like it's been laced with antiseptic mouthwash? Answer: no one in the U.K. besides me!). So, if I were to pick my dream day in New York -- and remember, I'm a tourist so I can be as cheesy as I like -- it would go something like this.

I'd be staying at the Mercer (this is a DREAM day, not a real day) and I would have spent the previous evening watching U.S. sitcoms, reading People magazine, and ordering room service. I would have breakfast at Lucky Strike in Soho and then walk up to Anthropologie. I LOVE Anthropologie. More than any man. Is that wrong? Have you seen my citrus lemon lace-trimmed black-and-white striped top that I bought there in January? Well, you would love it more than any man if you saw it. Anthropologie is coming to London. I don't want it to. I want it to stay in the U.S., so going there will continue to be as magical as waking up on Christmas Day when you're a child.

Then, I'd walk to Union Square, where I would buy some apple juice at the Farmer's Market, and pop into Barnes & Noble to buy some beautiful American books. I like American jackets much more than U.K. ones, and I wish Barnes & Noble was in London. I love it there.

Afterwards, I would head for the West Village, and go to the Spotted Pig for lunch. The first time I went there, Malcolm Gladwell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, AND Lou Reed were there (separately, not together, although that'd be a good dinner party, wouldn't it?). I would walk back through Greenwich Village, looking in the windows of the shops and cafés, and head east for a post-prandial drink at the Beauty Bar, on E. 14th Street, where they offer "Martinis and Manicures" -- you can drink cocktails while you get your nails done! Brill.

If I got super-hungry and needed a snack (all that walking works up an appetite), I would stop by a Chipotle. My love for Chipotle knows no bounds. There ain't no Mexican food in London unless you count soggy tortilla chips sold in cinemas. Then home to the Mercer -- wow, I am enjoying this day -- to read in the bath and have a nap. A nap is very important.

Evening: I'd put on my new Anthropologie purchases, and head out for a Manhattan at Cipriani in Grand Central Station. I would meet my old friend Lance, who lives here. We would go to the new production of Guys and Dolls, which is not only my favorite musical of all time, it is the best musical ever written, and it's set in New York! Afterward, we'd go for a glass of champagne at some glamorous hotel bar, maybe the Plaza's Oak Bar, or the St. Regis's King Cole Room with the fabulous Maxfield Parrish mural.

A very late dinner afterwards at Decibel, on E. 9th Street, a cute Japanese sake bar which does great sake and delicious food, then we'd have a few beers at Max Fish on Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side if I'm still able to stand upright.

Finally, back at the Mercer, as I lay in bed, I would think -- that was the best day ever.

If I had one more day, I'd walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Park Slope, take the subway back into Manhattan, and go to Zabar's on the Upper West Side and then I'd walk across Central Park to spend a little time with the Old Masters at the Frick Collection. But that is another day….

If you're coming to London let me know, and I'll draw up my dream day for you there. Be prepared though -- there's no root beer, the sidewalks are much narrower, and the people speak weirdly. --Harriet Evans
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Love of Her Life includes an discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion

1. When preparing to return to London, Kate remarks, "It will be hard.... I had to go back sometime...Just wish it wasn't for this, that's all" (p. 12). If not for her father's illness, do you think Kate would have gone back? Would she ever have returned to her old self in New York, or did she need to go back to London to rediscover herself? Do you agree with her that she is "too good at running away" (p. 21)?

2. Discuss Kate's "new self " vs. her "old self " (p. 14). Which Kate do you like better? Which one do you think Kate likes better? Would "old" Kate have shrugged off Andrew the way "new" Kate had at the beginning of the novel?

3. The scene where Kate reenters her old apartment is full of tumultuous emotion. What does Kate see that rips her feelings of comfort away and reminds her "why she was here" (p. 31)? Why do you think what she saw had that effect?

4. How does the author's use of foreshadowing intensify the moment when the reader finds out what really happened in Kate's past? How do the flashbacks add to this element? How would the book have been different if it started right after Kate graduated from college?

5. Kate and Mac's first encounter results in nothing more than a onenight stand, or so it seems. Why do you think Kate remarked that that night she had a "strange sense of certainty, one that she never got back again" (p. 108)? Does she ever get that certainty back? Why doesn't she make the effort to contact Mac once he leaves?

6. Sue Jordan, Kate's old boss, criticizes Kate for her current career choice. What is Kate's response? Why do you think she initially resisted Sue's offer to write the column? What does Sue mean when she says, "we're all the same, you know, it's just different versions of being the same" (p. 180)? Do you agree?

7. As the events of the novel unfold, it appears that Kate is becoming deeply entrenched in the city she tried to forget. How do her struggles with staying or leaving affect her interactions with Mac, Zoe, Francesca, and her family? Do you agree that "if the last few weeks had taught her anything, it was that she...had to start being brave and get out there" (p. 354)?

8. When Charly and Kate finally see each other after so many years, were you surprised to learn about Charly's boyfriend's ongoing infidelities? Why do all the good memories of their friendship come flooding back? Discuss how their conversation at the pub leads to Kate saying "...you [and your boyfriend] deserve each other, Charly, and I can't feel sorry for you" (p. 368).

9. Kate goes through a tremendous transformation throughout the novel. What makes Kate become comfortable with the person she is? Or does she never reach that milestone?

10. Before Kate returns to New York, Lisa remarks "...you were living the life you thought you ought to be living...I'm sure you wouldn't ask for any of what's happened. But it's been good for you" (p. 385). Do you agree with Lisa? Which experience do you think helped shape Kate the most? When is she at her weakest? Her strongest?

11. Did the ending of The Love of Her Life surprise you? Is this where Kate is meant to be? Is this the man whom she is meant to be with? Do you think she might run again, or is she here to stay? And why?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Harriet Evans recommends a cocktail she calls "The Harrie:" mix one part sloe gin to three parts champagne. Make some for your book club and give it a try.

2. Connections have been made between Evans's writing style and director Richard Curtis's style. Rent Curtis's Love Actually and see if you like it.

3. Ever had an Andrew, Mac, or Sean in your life? Care to tell the story? Spend a night with your book club talking about old flames!

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    Couldn't put it down

    I was hooked on the characters, the relationships, everything about the characters in the uk was so entrancing. A great romantic read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Heartbreaking

    Author Harriet Evans is an international best-seller, with other titles including: A Hopeless Romantic and Going Home. She resides in London.
    In London, Kate Miller had it all- An exciting job at a fashion magazine, a sexy fiancé, and the greatest friends anyone could ask for. Until one fateful day when it all went horribly wrong. Three years later, she's living in New York and still struggling to move on. When her father becomes ill, Kate must return to London to face her demons and the memories she left behind. But can she overcome the pain, forgive, and allow herself to love again?
    This book was a bit like reading a modern day Jane Austen novel- Frustrating, clever, and intriguing. You go through the entire book wondering what had happened to Kate so long ago that was life-changing, and when you get there, you can't help but feel the agony and torment of it. The book jumps from present to past to relay the tale of then and now, so you can't help but keep reading. Once the secret is found, it is then a battle for Kate to overcome it and move on. I can't say any more, or it will be ruined for future readers.
    Maddening, sad, and sweet- Harriet Evans spins a tale of real life people, their flaws, and the power of forgiveness in ones self in this title, The Love of Her Life.

    Kelly Moran,
    Author and Reviewer

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a fascinating character study of a woman who chooses flight and fright over fight

    In London Kate Miller loves her job and her fiancé Sean. However, she learns some truths about the man she was planning to marry and decides to end their engagement, quit her job, and cross the pond. She knows she will miss her home, her family her friends, and especially Mac who under other circumstances might have been the one.------------

    After two years in the States, Kate comes home after her stepmom calls to say her dad wants to see her as he recuperates from an emergency kidney transplant operation. Her return has her looking back at what if she chose fight not flight, but not for Sean; she considers her running away cost her Mac and her family yet maybe it is time to run away again to avoid being rejected.------------------

    THE LOVE OF HER LIFE is a fascinating character study of a woman who chooses flight and fright over fight. Kate is an interesting protagonist who detests confrontation so avoids it even if that means moving across the Atlantic. Although the opening chapters are difficult to classify in terms of time, readers will enjoy watching the "Old Kate" evolve into the "New Kate" though in fact they are the same essence with just a little more maturity.-------------------------

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Read!

    At first, I found this book excruciating to read. Not because the writing was bad, but because the beginning of the book just seemed to drag on… and on… before it started to get really interesting. The book description reveals that something terrible happened to Kate Miller in London resulting in her fleeing to New York to live with her mother and stepfather. The storyline bounces back and forth between New York and the events leading up to the painful event. As the reader, I got to the point where I could pretty much predict what bad thing happened --- it was just the matter of being patient until the author spilled the details; that doesn’t happen until about page 240. What is revealed after all the twist and turns is much more heartbreaking and tragic than what I imagined. If you are reading this book and thinking of giving up, just hang tight. I found it to be worth it in the end and would definitely recommend this book to a friend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Loved it!

    Started off a little slow but once I got into it I couldn't put it down. Cried my eyes out though but still so good!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 9, 2009

    Engaging and Romantic.

    I love Harriet Evans' books. They are always delightful, well written and engaging and "The Love of Her Life" is no different. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to fall into a really good story (trust me, you won't want to put it down). I look forward to her next novel!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fabulous!

    Harriet Evans writes a wonderful romantic story with her latest book! Thoroughly satisfying - I loved the way the story skipped between the past and present - very original.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2009

    Quick, fun, summer read

    Another great book by Harriet Evans. Characters are touching, story is entertaining. I definitely wanted to know what was going to happen every step of the way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)