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122 Reviews
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read with much to think about
"Whatever You Love" is the first Louise Doughty book I've read and I really enjoyed it. The novel is ostensibly about the loss of Laura's daughter, Betty, whose death we learn of in the first page of the prologue and the impact that it has on Laura's life and the people around her. After the prologue the book is structured into 4 parts which alternate between "before"...
Published on 26 Jun 2010 by Alison

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars had potential, but disappointingly flawed
There was a lot to like about this book: the exploration of grief and the immediate post-bereavement period was well handled and written in a confident, engaging style. I also liked the portrayal of the couple's relationship and thought that was realistic and well observed; the transition from the feverish beginnings of the relationship to the weary couple brought...
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by Anna


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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read with much to think about, 26 Jun 2010
By 
Alison "runninggirlcycling" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
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"Whatever You Love" is the first Louise Doughty book I've read and I really enjoyed it. The novel is ostensibly about the loss of Laura's daughter, Betty, whose death we learn of in the first page of the prologue and the impact that it has on Laura's life and the people around her. After the prologue the book is structured into 4 parts which alternate between "before" and "after" the events of Betty's death and provide detailed insight into the life of Laura with a final short epilogue.

The book synopsis on the jacket focusses on the vengeance that Laura wants to take against the man who killed Betty. While this is certainly a strong element of the story, it's somewhat misleading as the story is really about the relationship between Laura and her husband David. Although the book isn't quite what the jacket blurb suggests, it is still a riveting read and I stayed up late one night to read the last 100 pages.

It's a book that made me think - why were people behaving as they were, how do people deal with grief and loss, how perspective changes how a relationship appears to be. Doughty has a lovely realistic feel to her writing; there's a line where she describes a scene where a jar of mayonnaise is thrown and smashes and Doughty writes "Why does mayonnaise go translucent when it gets warm? Am I the only one who finds that sinister?" I just loved that simple observation (and I also think it's sinister!). There are other lovely simple observations that make the characters seen more real.

I'll definitely be looking at Doughty's other books. A recommended read if you like psychological thrillers/suspense that don't follow a standard plot.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should have been a contender., 2 May 2011
By 
Tamara L (North West England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
Narrated in the first person, the story opens with the death of Laura's nine year old daughter. It backtracks to Laura's relationship and subsequent marriage to David, then David's relationship with another woman. Reading this was like a punch in the stomach. The grief is so raw, the betrayal so bitter.

I'm not generally a fan of thrillers but this is so much more. Intelligent and well-written, it drags you kicking and screaming into its angry passionate heartbroken maelstrom. It would make a great TV adaptation - and I'm guessing that's why it didn't make the Orange shortlist - it does have that made-for-TV feel. Most likely it didn't come across as literary enough for the judges. All I know is I didn't want to go to bed I was so gripped by it, and it was the first thing I thought of when I woke in the morning. A fantastic read and I was on the verge of giving it five stars (I award this accolade rarely in proportion to the amount I read) but thought I would reflect on it a bit first. This was a useful check because after a week or so it had lost a lot of its effect and it didn't stay in my head. Its power is in its urgency and immediacy.

I would definitely recommend it though. An absolute page-turner.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whatever you love, 14 Jun 2010
By 
JM (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
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This was not what I expected at all, as I started it I didn't actually think I was going to like it but I was pleasantly surprised and found myself really enjoying it, though it's a painful and sad read, particularly when you have a child of similar age to the little girl who is killed in an accident.
But I think the blurb is somewhat misleading, it implies that the book focuses on the dead child's mother seeking revenge on the driver who killed her. This is only a brief part of the story, and not even the climax. The book tells the story of how Laura, the mother, met her husband and married him, and then subsequently lost him to another woman, and then the aftermath of losing her daughter. Had that been the blurb I would probably not have read it, but as it is, it manages to be a riveting read throughout. I certainly would never have guessed what happens.
Interesting and different, and very well written.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars had potential, but disappointingly flawed, 29 Nov 2010
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
There was a lot to like about this book: the exploration of grief and the immediate post-bereavement period was well handled and written in a confident, engaging style. I also liked the portrayal of the couple's relationship and thought that was realistic and well observed; the transition from the feverish beginnings of the relationship to the weary couple brought together through the shared bereavement was nicely handled.

However, the book's main failing was that the author seemed not to have had the confidence to make the book just that: an exploration of grief and a study of a relationship. Instead, we get a very poorly developed revenge sub-plot, which is farcical, poorly developed and never ignites. Simultaneously the author goes off on yet another ill-advised tangent with the sub-plot of the letters; again, lacking in realism, worthy of a bad made-for-TV movie and demanding a level of suspension of disbelief that I found impossible (the number of times I was rolling my eyes and saying "Oh come ON!"). As a result, the book seems not to know what it wants to be and I think it suffers from that.

And finally, Faber & Faber, get your act together and use some decent copyeditors and proofreaders. The book was littered with spelling mistakes and typos, which I found distracting and which undermined the book. You are left thinking that if the publisher doesn't care about the book enough, why should we?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating read overall, 6 Jun 2010
By 
Bob's Mum (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
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I was quickly captivated by this book - a story of Laura and the loss of her eldest daughter Betty in a hit and run. Very much an interior monologue, it explores the feelings and emotions and numbness that she experiences as she tries to make sense of the life she has left.

The blurb though, indicates it is a story of revenge. Indeed it is, but the story convolutes into the story of her relationship with David (Betty's father / Laura's husband). This confused me a little - I felt both stories were told well but neither developed fully - I found other details clumsy and difficult to reconcile (I don't want to say what as it would spoil the plot); the end felt rushed and for me, unsatisfying.

Intelligent prose, shocking in places, with a flash forward / flash back timeline makes this a genuinely captivating read though, and one I would recommend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollercoaster read, 13 Jun 2010
By 
Mimi Moor - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An excellent story dealing with a difficult and emotive subject. Whatever you Love details Laura's life and how it unravels when she hears the news that her young daughter has been killed by a car. In counterpoint the history of her relationship with David,her daughter's father - and now-ex-husband and how that relationship started, flourished and unexpectedly ended.

It's a book about grievous loss and expertly describes in unfliching detail the gamut of emotions accompanying such tragedies.

Once the initial shock of the tragedy has passed Laura starts to find out the details of the accident and decides to wreak her own personal vengeance.

A book that tugs at the heart, draws tears and still manages to surprise right to the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THOUGHTFUL AND WELL WRITTEN BOOK, 20 April 2011
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
I picked up this book as it was reduced if you bought a copy of The Times, so in many respects I had no great aspirations for the book, a paper pushing an ordinary author, but this was an excellent read. The plot is set on the first page-the death of Betty aged nine, and the repercussions it has on her mother Lura. The novel weaves about from the meeting and marriage of Laura and David-Bettys father to the present the coping with death and the retribution that has to be made.Louse Doughty writes well and with feeling and understanding of what a mother must go through when her daughter is killed in a hit and run accident
This novel is well worth reading about the breakdown of social relationships, and the obvious desire for retibution that every relative of a victim under whatever circumstances must want. An excellent novel
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 24 Oct 2010
By 
R. Lawson "clavedoc" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
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Three stars overall then..... That's an average of 1 for the first half of the book and 4 (at least) for the second.Almost immediately we are aware that Laura has been divorced following her husband's infidelity. Her daughter has been killed in an accident with a car. Having set the scene, the rest of the first 150 pages are spent telling us that she is upset and angry about each of these events. Sorry if you feel that's spoiled it for you, but actually I thought I might save you having to read the boring and tedious description of Laura's reaction to these events. Her reactions at this stage aren't really surprising and we don't seem to learn much at all. I guess there are a few set up situations that the plot returns to later but it really is tedious writing to have to plough through. You might as well jump straight in at about page 150 and read the rest of the book. Now things get interesting. There's powerful emotion that wobbles on the fine line between the reasonable and the mad, there's jealousy, hatred, protection and revenge. There are surprising plot twists and even a final ambiguity that is rather delicately dangled.
When it has something to say the writing is crisp and incisive. I completed the book with a keen sense of interest, an engagement with the characters and a desire to know how the final plot twists would work out. However, I nearly gave up half way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story of love, loss, revenge, resentment, misunderstanding, justice, madness and, of course, grief., 23 May 2011
By 
K. Z. Sobol (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
This is the story of a single mother, Laura, caught up in grief, following the sudden death of one of her children, Betty, whilst trying to continue to live her life and care for her younger son, Rees. The balance that she manages to retain is both superficial and unstable to say the least and the way in which grief is illuminated in this book does come to life and the story is believable (for the most part). There is, however, one scene in particular, which, without spoiling the plot, seemed to me to be unnecessary and gratuitous, but others may feel that it adds another element to the tale. Personally, I found it distracting and somewhat bizarre, at odds with the rest of the story. Fortunately, this is a minor part of the story and so I moved past it quite quickly. The author's exploration of life before and after the loss of her child and the changing relationship that she has with the father of her children, David, both before and after the tragedy strikes is clever and insightful. This book is a real page-turner and I was really gripped.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Brutal, 6 Mar 2011
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Whatever You Love (Paperback)
I have been really blown away by this novel, it's one of those stories that you really really need to keep on reading, one of those that is almost impossible to put down, with clever twists and turns throughout the very well woven plot.

The main plotline is one that puts the fear into any parent; the unexpected and accidental death of a child. Betty is the nine-year old daughter of Laura and David, the prologue of the story is the moment that Laura realises that there are two police officers on her doorstep and then the realisation that Betty is dead. So, a really difficult and emotional subject to deal with, but Louise Doughty deals with it easily - the drama, the emotion and the grief are splendidly portrayed throughout the novel.
As Laura tries to deal with her grief, her life slowly unravells and she descends into a kind of 'other' world - almost madness and deep deep sorrow. I was really impressed by how Doughty reveals Laura and David's past relationship, in a series of flash-backs that totally fit into the story and give the reader an understanding of why and how both of them behave like they do.
Laura is something of a flawed character and makes some pretty strange decisions, she can be almost melodramatic in her actions at times, but this didn't lessen the impact of the story for me.
Overall, this is one of the most intriguing novels I have read for a long time, not uplifting or cheering in any way, in fact it's quite brutal and unsettling at times. A very powerful read.
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Whatever You Love
Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty (Paperback - 7 April 2011)
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