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Whatever You Love
     

Whatever You Love

3.2 9
by Louise Doughty
 

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Longlisted for the Orange Prize and Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award, Louise Doughty’s hauntingly beautiful investigation of love, loss, and revenge is a literary page-turner that will linger in your mind far after the cover closes. When a hit-and-run car crash claims Laura’s daughter Betty, her life is turned upside down. But when the courts rule

Overview

Longlisted for the Orange Prize and Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award, Louise Doughty’s hauntingly beautiful investigation of love, loss, and revenge is a literary page-turner that will linger in your mind far after the cover closes. When a hit-and-run car crash claims Laura’s daughter Betty, her life is turned upside down. But when the courts rule the death an accident, the lines dividing justice from punishment will blur as Laura embarks on her own quest for vengeance. Sure to captivate fans of Antoinette van Heugten and Sophie Hannah, as well as readers of Doughty’s previous books Fires in the Dark and A Novel in a Year, among others, Whatever You Love is a poignant psychological story in which life’s greatest questions hang in the balance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Doughty (Crazy Paving), author of several novels and a nonfiction book based on her column in London’s Daily Telegraph, tackles the loss of life, love, and rationality. Laura Needham is a single mother raising two children, nine-year-old Betty and her younger brother, Rees. On page one, police arrive at Laura’s door with the news that Betty has been killed in a hit-and-run accident. As Laura grapples with her daughter’s death, her already complicated relationship with her ex-husband grows more so. “Before” and “After” sections alternately detail Laura’s past and present with her husband, his new girlfriend, and their new baby, and chronicles Laura slowly losing control of her mind. In the process, she discovers an anger that will not go away, and moves to the brink of a breakdown that might end in violence. As Laura sinks more deeply into grief, anger, and disorientation, opportunities for healing appear unexpectedly, yielding a heartfelt and affecting story. Agent: Grainne Fox, Fletcher & Company. (Apr.)
Hilary Mantel
“Gripping, absorbing, beautifully constructed, and written with great sensitivity.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Seldom have the subjects of love, loss, and retribution been treated with such emotional power as they are here. Award winning English author Doughty, who is intrigued by the effects of accidents, has written a masterfully structured novel that is as indelible as it is painful.”
Parade
“This exquisitely calibrated depiction of one mother’s grief and rage will hold you spellbound.”
Marie Claire
“[A] pulse-quickening literary thriller.”
National Examiner
“A gripping and heart-wrenching novel.”
Bust Magazine
“You never wonder about character motivation; [Doughty’s] treatment of the reasons behind each event is so thorough that even the strangest circumstances become understandable.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Masterful. . . . This deeply psychological story, told in first person, recalls some of the best of Gothic literature. . . . But unlike Gothic fiction, love lies at the heart of this story. . . . Gorgeously structured.”
Booklist
"Seldom have the subjects of love, loss, and retribution been treated with such emotional power as they are here. Award winning English author Doughty, who is intrigued by the effects of accidents, has written a masterfully structured novel that is as indelible as it is painful."
Sunday Telegraph
“Like Zoe Heller, Doughty is masterful at combining the texture of ordinary, smugly middle-class, contemporary life with the hidden cliff edges of violence and hatred.”
The Guardian
“An incident-packed, emotionally fraught revenge tragedy. . . . Emotionally raw, sexually frank, psychologically unpredictable.”
Independent
“A powerful portrait of loss and its psychological consequences.”
Boston Globe
“An unflinching reckoning with sudden, unbearable loss and obsessive vengeance. . . . Both elegy and thriller. . . . Doughty’s success lies in how intimately she engages readers to face, with Laura, the dailyness of tragedy and the ways in which suffering can blind us to our culpabilities.”
Library Journal
Fueled by grief and a desire to avenge her nine-year-old daughter's death from a hit-and-run accident, Laura Needham loses control of her life in this fiercely nuanced novel about love and loss. Doughty (Fires in the Dark) explores both Laura's love for her husband, David, who has left her for another woman, and her obsessive desire to inflict suffering on the driver who accidentally killed Betty. All this agony is complicated by David's domestic partner, Chloe, who is violently jealous of Laura and also spiraling out of control. VERDICT Reminiscent of Alina Bronsky's Broken Glass Park, this portrait of a mother's disintegration and gradual coming to terms with her new reality is a powerful depiction of love, loss, and retribution. Doughty's writing is self-assured in this novel, which was nominated for both the Orange and the Costa prizes in Great Britain. [See Prepub Alert, 10/9/11.]—Andrea Kempf, formerly with Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Kirkus Reviews
Dead child, cheating husband, stalking, mental breakdowns, misunderstood immigrants--few melodramatic prompts go unexplored in this tale of domestic woe. Laura, the narrator of the sixth novel by Doughty (Fires in the Dark, 2004, etc.), is suffering from two emotional catastrophes. The first is the collapse of her marriage to David, who left her for one of his co-workers. The second, and most devastating, comes a few years later, when their 9-year-old daughter, Betty, is killed in a car accident in their quiet British town. Doughty structures the story by bouncing back and forth in time to cover Laura's mental state before and after the accident. In doing so, she draws out the occasional keen observation about husbands and wives and mothers and daughters. But the novel is also saddled with bland characters and plot turns that are unengaging when they don't defy credulity. In one thread running through the story, Laura struggles to identify the author of a series of intimidating and taunting anonymous messages, but its resolution is unsurprising and ultimately irrelevant to the story. Another subplot involves the anti-immigrant sentiment that pervades the town, focused on the Albanian man driving the car that killed Betty; in time the connection between him and Laura becomes closer, but then grows unconvincing and absurd. The novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Costa Book Award, presumably on the strength of its portrait of grief--in its more meditative moments, Laura's feelings of shellshock are powerful, and her recollection of the day of Betty's death is turned with agonizingly patient prose. But such moments are overwhelmed by ungainly police-procedural touches, and the novel's shifts between the past and present sap its momentum. An overly earnest portrait of one mother's suffering.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062094667
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/27/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
369
Sales rank:
648,019
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.91(d)

What People are Saying About This

Hilary Mantel
“Gripping, absorbing, beautifully constructed, and written with great sensitivity.”

Meet the Author

Louise Doughty is the author of the novels Crazy Paving, Dance with Me, Honey-Dew, Fires in the Dark, and Stone Cradle, as well as the nonfiction book A Novel in a Year, based on her popular newspaper column. She has written plays for radio and has worked widely as a critic, broadcasting regularly for BBC Radio 4. She lives in London.

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Whatever You Love 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
An intense roller coaster ride that ended up in a different place than I predicted - completely. Told from the perspective of Laura who in the first chapter loses her oldest child, her daughter Betty, in a car accident. She has already withstood a divorce due to a cheating spouse and is barely holding it together as it is. The reader is taken on a journey with Laura as she goes before and after the accident. I loved how the book was broken up with chapters that occurred before the accident where you were given the history of Laura and David's relationship before the kids arrived. The after chapters took place after the accident and I absolutely adored where the story went. I blew through this book because the intensity stayed at a heightened level that kept me from being to able to set it down at any moment. A perfect book for a spring weekend outside enjoying the weather!
books4gail More than 1 year ago
I am a lucky reader. "Whatever You Love" was the first book I picked from a stack of advance copies. I planned to root through them to find my next read. Scratch that plan; I did not put this book down. I was grabbed by the intimate nature of the writing—I felt like I was in Laura Needham’s head and heart throughout. The beginning was a voyage through her raw grief. But there’s that thread of intrigue present from the start, which takes the book to unpredictable places. I will leave the rest for you to experience. I recommend for lovers of "Olive Kitteridge" and "Year of Magical Thinking".
Boncar More than 1 year ago
Intense and heart-wrenching, but not always what you think.  I loved this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SandpiperDS More than 1 year ago
Decent storyline as Laura has to deal with a self-absorbed cheating husband, divorce that followed and the loss of her child. Nicely done before and after the accident chapter format.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*he stares* sexy...