Book Review: The Love of My Life by Louise Douglas

Wow, this book completely blew me away, it is definitely the best book that I have read so far this year. This is Louise Douglas' debut novel which is hard to believe as you read it due to how accomplished the writing is. Here is the story:
Olivia knew she'd never love anyone like she'd loved Luca. He was everything to her, her whole world, and now he'd gone. They had grown up together in a bleak, northern, sea-side twon, where his family ran Marinella's restaurant, and when they eloped to London his mother never forgave Olivia for taking him away.
As she begins to try and come to terms with Lucas' death, Olivia realises that she has to return to Watersford, where he has been buried. It is in a chance meeting with his twin brother, Marc, that she realises his loss is almost as painful as her own. Their desolation leads them to follow a path which has no future, and which will prove to have devastating consequences for the entire family.

This book reminded me so much of Maggie O'Farrell's book After You'd Gone, these two books are the best that I have ever read about dealing with grief and loss.
Initially, I was quite shocked at Olivia starting a relationship with Marc so soon after Lucas' death but as I got to know her character and the relationship she had lost, I could understand how she could do such a thing, she needed to do it in order to grieve and move on in life.
I loved how Louise Douglas personified Olivia's grief as a black dog. I know that it is often a way of describing depression but I thought that it was so appropriate for grief. This black dog of grief becomes Olivia's faithful companion:
On the occasional instance when I forgot what had happened, the dog was there to remind me, its breath hot in my ear. At some point, I thought, I would have to chase the dog away, throw metaphorical stones at it or something. But for the time being I welcomed the dog into my own life, even went so far as to talk to it.

Louise Douglas really gets under the skin of Olivia; she is such an honest character, she has done things that she isn't proud of but she doesn't try to hide them. The book stirred up so many emotions in me and there was a couple of times that I had to put it down as it had made me cry. Even though I have never expereinced grief at the level that Olivia does in the book, I still felt as though I could identify with her. The author gives you such a complete picture and history of her and Luca's relationship that you can fully understand her pain.
This book is beautifully written, the subject matter is dealt with brilliantly, I can't wait for Louise Douglas' next book.


bookalicious said...

Great review, I can tell how impressed you were with the book! I have yet to read this one (got it ages ago in hardcover), but I can't wait since I've heard so many great things about it! :)

Dot said...

bookalicious- it was such a good book, I think that I will probably read it again in the future!

Anonymous said...

I shall now be looking out for this without a doubt.

I loved Maggie O'Farrell's last book The Vanishing of Esme Lennox and have always ummmed and aahhhed about After You'd Gone, now I shall pick it up when I next see it.

Kim said...

Now that's a great review and I will definitely look out for The Love of my Life although I have been trying to reduce my TBR pile - all to no avail, of course, so adding one more to it will hardly make a difference.

Dot said...

Simon- thank you, I thought it was excellent. I haven't read Maggie O'Farrell's last book, I shall have to give it a go.

Kim- thank you, I'm so glad you're back! Just going to pop over to your blog now. I'm having the same problem with my TBR pile, just gets bigger and bigger!

Cupcakes And Peonies said...

So pleased that you liked it. It is fab isn't it!xx

Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds really powerful! I guess it's strange to say I love books dealing with grief, because they're so sad, but there's something so raw and poignant about them! I'll definitely look for this one!

Dot said...

Meg- I'm the same as you, I think that it's really sad but grief is such a powerful emotion to write about and it has to be done well.

Rebecca said...

Hi Dot, I really enjoyed reading your review on this book. It is very insightful and I relate to everything that you have said.

I just finished reading the book (if you are interested here is my review http://twincreatives.com/2015/11/07/book-review-the-love-of-my-life-by-louise-douglas/) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the same way as you have described, I was also shocked at the suddenness of Marc and Olivia's relationship, and found Olivia as a character to be very honest and open. I also agree that it is beautifully written, her use of metaphors and description throughout is fantastic. I know that there are mixed reviews about the book on Amazon, and although mainly positive, there are some negative reviews out there that almost made me question my own thoughts. To see that you feel similar to me about the book has been reassuring to say the least!

Thank you again for your review,
Rebecca (one half of Twin Creatives)

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