Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
" I study the photo in the same way that a spy might study the face of a counterpart in a rival organization. I am calm as I make this promise: I am going to find out what you love, then whatever it is, I am going to track it down and I am going to take it away from you."
After the death of Laura's nine-year-old daughter, Betty, is ruled an accident in a hit-and-run, Laura decides to take revenge into her own hands, determined to track down the man responsible. All the while, her inner turmoil is reopening the old wounds of her passionate love affair with Betty's father, David, and his abandonment of the family for another woman.
Haunted by her past and driven to a breaking point by her thirst for retribution, Laura discovers the unforeseen lengths she is willing to go to for love and vengeance.
Characters: Emotionally charged/overwhelmed.
Whatever You Love is a compelling and well written novel about Laura and her mission to exact revenge on the man who killed her nine-year-old daughter, Betty. Flipping between the past and present, Doughty provides us with a clear understanding of how Laura has become mentally unhinged over the years. We learn about the fact that she has always taken care of her mother, who suffers from Parkinson's disease - her father passed away when she was an infant. We also learn about the obsessive and somewhat childish nature of Laura's whirlwind romance with David, Betty's father. Their relationship speeds heads straight to marriage and children. However, happiness seems to evade Laura's grasp. She is soon suspicious of her husband and begins to suspect him of infidelity. Her paranoia combined with some telling letters soon bring everything to a head - David has a girlfriend and she's pregnant. Leaving Laura and their two children behind, David heads off to begin a new life.
Years later, we find Laura still struggling to come to grips with David's abandonment. Her mental and emotional instability is so rattled that we see how dependent she has become on Betty - her little girl is her everything. She keeps Laura grounded and present in the everyday. So, when the knock comes at the door, Laura senses her world is about to be changed - and not for the better. Two police officers arrive to tell her that Betty is dead - the victim of a hit and run accident. The grief that overcomes Laura is palpable. She is numb, exhausted and in pain. You can feel her grief screaming at you from the pages, making it all the more easy to empathize with her over Betty's death.
As you can imagine, an already unstable Laura overcome by grief doesn't exactly bode well for anyone. Soon you are reading about a mother so consumed by thoughts of revenge that you are left feeling a bit unsettled by where this story may be taking you. Of course, who can blame the woman - her child has died and she is knee deep in grief. Suffice it say, the pages to come will leave you reeling and gasping, "OMG!".
Whatever You Love is a page-turning, must-read novel. It will leave you to wonder why you haven't read any Doughty before now (unless you already have and if so, please recommend another one of her books to me). And, I will most definitely be recommending Whatever You Love to anyone and everyone looking for something new and good to read.