Love Always

Love Always

by Harriet Evans

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451639629
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 06/21/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 741,607
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Harriet Evans is the internationally bestselling author of Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After, Not Without You, A Place for Us, The Butterfly Summer, The Wildflowers. She lives in London. Visit her website at Harriet-Evans.com.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Love Always includes an introduction, 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.
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Introduction

Love Always tells the story of Natasha Kapoor, a woman whose life is at a turning point. Her marriage is failing, her business is going bankrupt, and her beloved grandmother just died—leaving her large and complicated family to sell their family vacation home in Cornwall. In the midst of heartache and loss, Natasha finds comfort in reading the long-lost diary of her aunt Cecily, who died in a tragic accident when she was fifteen years old and whose death has never been discussed. Reading the diary, Natasha learns secrets that have remained hidden for more than forty years, and finds inspiration in the words of the aunt she never knew.

Questions & Topics for Discussion

1. The novel opens with Natasha’s train ride from London to Cornwall for her grandmother’s funeral. Looking out the window during the long journey, Natasha notices as they move “further and further west, the landscape is wilder, and though spring feels far away, there are tiny green buds on the black branches fringing the railway tracks.” (p. 17) Consider the ways in which the change in landscape alters Natasha. Is she happier in Cornwall than in London? Why is Summercove so important to Natasha?

2. At the funeral there is a palpable tension between the family members. Natasha remarks “this is what we’re like now Granny’s not here. It’s all changed, and I don’t know how, or why.” (p. 61) What has changed in the family dynamic now that Frances has died? What has stayed the same? What has changed for Natasha?

3. Compare Miranda and Louisa. How are they alike? How are they different? Do you sympathize with one more than the other? Who do you think Natasha sympathizes with more? Do her sympathies shift throughout the course of the novel?

4. Revisit the scene where Arvind gives Cecily’s diary to Natasha. What do you think is his motivation for doing so? Why did he choose to share the diary with Natasha and no one else? What do you think he meant by the family being “poisoned”? Was he including himself and Natasha? Turn to pages 75–76 and discuss.

5. On page 76, Arvind says: “Freedom comes in many guises.” In light of this quote, think about the unconventional ways in which the characters in the novel achieve a sense of freedom. Is the path to freedom through heartache? Consider Natasha, Miranda, Frances, Arvind, and Louisa in your response.

6. Were you surprised by Octavia’s assertion that Miranda killed Cecily? Did you believe her initially? Why would Louisa and her family find Miranda at fault?

7. How would you define Oli’s character? Do you see him as sympathetic? How does Natasha see him? How does Miranda?

8. “I know all men were created equal. But we’re the only different people we know.” (p. 136) Discuss the role of race in the novel. How does being half British and half Pakistani affect Archie? Miranda? Cecily? What role, if any, does race play in Natasha’s life? In Jay’s?

9. Consider for a moment the structure of the story. What effect does the diary and the leap back in time have on the story overall? Did you feel more connected to Cecily’s story or Natasha’s? Can you make any comparisons between the two women and their lives?

10. Discuss Frances’s character before Cecily’s death. Did you like her? What about after her death? Do you forgive Frances for what happened more than forty years ago? Why or why not?

11. “And then something strange happens. The diary is in Mum’s hand, and it suddenly flies out, eddying away on a huge arching gust of wind.” (p. 417) Do you think Miranda let the diary go on purpose? Do you think she let the diary go so that everyone in the family could continue to be protected from the truth?

12. Revisit the scene on pages 422–437 where Natasha realizes Guy is her father. Did you anticipate this to be the case or were you shocked? Do you think this event allows Natasha to be more open to love, now that she has discovered both the mystery of her extended and her immediate family?

13. In the end Natasha finally allows herself to be open to love and happiness. As she kisses Ben she looks up at the sky and thinks of everyone in her life “just trying to be part of one big happy family, whatever on earth that is.” (p. 449) Did this moment in the story give you the feeling that Natasha’s journey has been resolved? Has she found what she has been searching for? Why or why not?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Harriet Evans’s books are international bestsellers. Have your book club do a series on her. Read her two most recent novels—I Remember You and The Love of Her Life. What themes do you notice in her work? What message do you think Evans is sending to her audience? Which of these books was your favorite? The favorite of the group?

2. “Granny died in her sleep last Friday. She was eighty-nine. The funny thing is, it still shocked me. Booking my train tickets to come down to Cornwall, in February, it seemed all wrong, as though I was in a bad dream.” (p. 7–8) Grief and dealing with tragedy, loss and heartache play major roles in the story. Have your group reflect on grief: what it means, how it impacts our day-to-day lives, how we move on afterwards or if we ever can. Have each member share a moment of grief or loss. Did your family grow closer in the wake of a difficult situation or tragedy? Do you think the Kapoors grew closer? Why or why not?

3. Turn to the opening pages of the book and read the first epigraph aloud to your book club:

We can never go back, that much is certain. The past is still too close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic—now mercifully stilled, thank God—might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion, as it had been before.
—Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

Why do you think the author chose to include this quote as the opening of her novel? Have a movie night with your book club and rent the made-for-TV-movie Rebecca (TV 1997), based on the famous gothic novel. What is the connection between Rebecca and Love Always?

4. On page 68 Miranda tells Natasha: “relationships aren’t perfect. They’re not. You have to work at them.” In many ways, this moment indicates the version of Miranda we come to know by the end of the story—the woman who is willing to sacrifice her happiness to protect her family. Over a traditional Indian meal, discuss relationships, both in the novel and in your own life. What are examples of having to work at a relationship in your own life? In the story? Might Miranda have been speaking not only of Oli and Natasha, but her parents’ relationship, or her relationship (or lack thereof ) with Guy?

Customer Reviews

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Love Always 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
BookHounds More than 1 year ago
Natasha Kapoor returns to Cornwall for her grandmother's funeral and learns that secrets in her huge, extended family have lead to some weird dynamics. The truth begins to emerge when she is given her aunt Cecily's diary that documents some starling truths and sets Natasha on a road to personal discovery. There are a lot of layers to Natasha's history and it is wonderful to see her grow as she discovers the truth about her very existence. The main secret is that Natasha's grandmother, a famous painter, has stopped painting after her youngest daughter, Cecily, falls to her death. Natasha looks enough like Cecily to be her twin. There are so many entanglements in this family, you need a chart to keep track. They aren't hard to follow and each page brings about a new enlightenment on just what it means to be related. In a true mystery, the story about Cecily's death and the chaos it creates within the family is told through flashbacks and portions of her diary so you slowly begin to see all of the circumstance surrounding her death. This story will really keep your attention as it did mine as you try to guess what really happened to Cecily. I really couldn't put it down once I started. Natasha is such a complex character and I really wanted to find out what was holding her back in her life, whether her jewelery designing business or her love life. I loved how the story pulls past and present together to create her personal history. If you enjoy Madeleine Wickham or Jennifer Weiner, you are going to love this one. I think this may be my favorite Harriet Evans book yet! I would always try to get the UK versions as soon as they were released and I wish I hadn't waited on this one. Pure reading joy!
Jade1213 More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed a lot.
Critiqua More than 1 year ago
I bought this book with the vague notion that it had been written by Hester Browne, author of the fluffy but very enjoyable Little Lady series. (Yes, I realize the cover has a different name on it, but in my defense let me say that my memory was a little fuzzy at the time.) A few chapters in, I was in shock: what had happened to turn an author of enjoyable fluff into an author of deep, thoughtful, heart-wrenching prose? (Again, checking the cover helped to answer that question.) I adore books with complex, multi-dimensional characters, long-kept secrets, fascinating historical details, and rewarding personal journeys. Do not be fooled by the cover: this book delivers in all those categories and more. I can only compare it to Kate Morton's The Distant Hours and Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. All three are keepers and lenders, full of unforgettable moments frozen in time.
TheLoopyLibrarian on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Love Always captures a complex family dynamic with captivating and intriguing characters. Nothing was quite what it seemed, but the truth was gradually revealed through the catalyst of Cecily¿s diary. I love the way the writer rotated between time periods to gradually reveal the truth behind Cecily¿s death as well as the many other mysteries that permeated the book. Those mysteries and the desire to know the truth behind them made the book hard to put down. It also made me impatient at times because I wanted the author to get to those truths more quickly. When the truths did come they were surprising and shed light on the family dynamic. As for Natasha, she was a sympathetic character that made you care about her and that you couldn¿t help but root for. I was very pleased when she got her new beginning. Overall, it was a very enjoyable read.
ethel55 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This was hands down a fabulous book. Natasha Kapoor is at a crossroads with her jewelry business and personal life. The death of her beloved granny, a famous artist, sends her to the family home in Cornwall, called Summercove. As the family gathers, it's apparent that this extended group has a lot of secrets to share. As she heads back to London, Nat is given her aunt Cecily's diary, at least the part of it her grandfather found. Nat is told she resembles her Aunt Cecily, who tragically died in the summer of '63 as a fifteen year old. The vast number of characters--cousins, in-laws, friends--which I thought would be daunting at first, played out into their various roles very easily. Evans tells the story of Cecily's last summer eloquently via her school girl diary. The relationships of the present day are exquisitely handled as Nat begins to learn more about her mother's distance from the family and and learns a lot about herself as well. I will definitely pick up another one of Evans' novels again.
MaryinHB on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Natasha Kapoor returns to Cornwall for her grandmother's funeral and learns that secrets in her huge, extended family have lead to some weird dynamics. The truth begins to emerge when she is given her aunt Cecily's diary that documents some starling truths and sets Natasha on a road to personal discovery. There are a lot of layers to Natasha's history and it is wonderful to see her grow as she discovers the truth about her very existence. The main secret is that Natasha's grandmother, a famous painter, has stopped painting after her youngest daughter, Cecily, falls to her death. Natasha looks enough like Cecily to be her twin. There are so many entanglements in this family, you need a chart to keep track. They aren't hard to follow and each page brings about a new enlightenment on just what it means to be related.In a true mystery, the story about Cecily's death and the chaos it creates within the family is told through flashbacks and portions of her diary so you slowly begin to see all of the circumstance surrounding her death. This story will really keep your attention as it did mine as you try to guess what really happened to Cecily. I really couldn't put it down once I started. Natasha is such a complex character and I really wanted to find out what was holding her back in her life, whether her jewelery designing business or her love life. I loved how the story pulls past and present together to create her personal history. If you enjoy MadeleineWickham or Jennifer Weiner, you are going to love this one. I think this may be my favorite Harriet Evans book yet! I would always try to get the UK versions as soon as they were released and I wish I hadn't waited on this one. Pure reading joy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book!!!! A wonderful mystery that keeps you interested and guessing! I loved the characters and the way the story jumps off the pages, I felt like I was there watching these peoples lives unfold! Bravo Ms. Evans Bravo!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very predictable, but still a great story
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csingh More than 1 year ago
Whoa. I've read and loved all of Harriet Evans's previous books and this one is no different. However, this book was much different than the previous four and much darker than the others. I would call this dark(er) chick lit. There was some serious stuff in here. I loved the different fonts for Cecily's diary and everything else. Ms. Evans's did an astounding job at keeping me guessing what really happened to Cecily and everything else that went on in the family. There were some mind boggling twists. But this book does a great job at tapping into your emotions. I had tears running down my face at points. Harriet Evans has another book coming out soon. I sincerely hope it won't be as dark/heavy as this one, but I'm sure I'll love it even if it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love all of Evans' books. This did not disappoint in the end...
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ESL More than 1 year ago
As always, Harriet Evans not only entertain but also create characters that are interesting and complex. I can't wait for her nextbook.
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Rose Antrim More than 1 year ago
Great read.... i love this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good book, couldn't put it down!
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
This was hands down a fabulous book. Natasha Kapoor is at a crossroads with her jewelry business and personal life. The death of her beloved granny, a famous artist, sends her to the family home in Cornwall, called Summercove. As the family gathers, it's apparent that this extended group has a lot of secrets to share. As she heads back to London, Nat is given her aunt Cecily's diary, at least the part of it her grandfather found. Nat is told she resembles her Aunt Cecily, who tragically died in the summer of '63 as a fifteen year old. The vast number of characters--cousins, in-laws, friends--which I thought would be daunting at first, played out into their various roles very easily. Evans tells the story of Cecily's last summer eloquently via her school girl diary. The relationships of the present day are exquisitely handled as Nat begins to learn more about her mother's distance from the family and and learns a lot about herself as well. I will definitely pick up another one of Evans' novels again.