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on 16 November 2016
'The Love of my Life' is the story of Olivia ('Liv'), who unexpectedly loses her Italian chef husband Luca in a car crash. Distraught with grief, Liv leaves London and returns to the Northern town where she and Luca grew up, even though she has no friends or family there - her mother has broken off all contact, and for some mysterious reason Luca's large Italian family the Fellicones are very unwelcoming. All, that is, except Luca's twin brother Marc, with whom Liv begins an impetuous affair at Luca's funeral, despite the fact that Marc is married with two young children, and that his wife Nathalie hates Liv. This affair continues and casts a shadow over Liv's life, even as she tries to settle into life in Waterford, taking a job as research assistant to a literature professor working on the town's one famous novelist, and making friends with Chris, the chef at the local cafe, and her colleague Jenny. And as Liv recalls her past, we begin to realize why the Fellicones hate Liv, and to realize that if the affair continues with Marc continues, it will be even more destructive than these things usually are...

I bought this novel on the advice of a review from the Bookbag site, where it was likened to Maggie O'Farrell's 'After You'd Gone'. Unfortunately, I found it markedly inferior, largely because Liv is for the most part so unlikeable. In the chapters dealing with her childhood and adolescence, she comes across as profoundly boring, silly and self-involved, with no real interests, and prepared to do anything (even have a fling with the husband of the woman for whom she babysits) to get attention. As an adult, it was amazing how quickly and with what little guilt she entered into the fling with Marc, even though she was still supposedly mourning her husband, and had good reasons not to hurt Marc's wife. Maybe Douglas was making the point that Liv's unhappy fatherless childhood had made her totally dependent on men in a rather clingy way - but if so she didn't make it clear enough, and Liv never really seemed to come to any greater self-knowledge. Nor did Douglas make quite enough of the fact that Liv couldn't have children, though this was an interesting idea to introduce. The other characters in the novel were rather colourless stereotypes: bossy Italian Mamma Angela ordering her sons around; her henpecked husband Maurizio; the nasty vengeful sister-in-law (in fact, Liv seemed to have been pretty hurtful to her, all things considered); the weak lecherous brother-in-law; Liv's cold, religious-fanatic mother (given to phrases such as 'I don't want to breathe the same air as you at the moment') and her creepy friend Mr Hensley. The more interesting characters, such as the Professor who Liv works for and Chris at the cafe felt under-used, and I'm not sure why Douglas didn't make more of Liv's work on the life of the local novelist Marian, which I'd thought would be a big part of the book - it really didn't play much of a role at all, which meant that the 'big revelation' at the end fell completely flat.

I also felt the book was somewhat clumsily put together. There were some unlikely plot developments. If Liv had left school at 16 and never bothered to get any other qualifications or skills, she would have been unlikely to rise high in the world of PR. I've never known someone drink gin AFTER wine rather than as an aperitif. If Liv was that much of an alcoholic, wouldn't she have shown more signs of it? Why did Liv want a university job if - as she said - she had no academic interests? And university professors advertising for research assistants usually do so among graduate students (who are often so much in need of experience that they'll work for free) or at least graduates, and would be unlikely to take on an unqualified woman with few literary interests. And in comparison to Douglas's later very gripping thrillers (including 'In Her Shadow' which I think I under-estimated) the novel really lacks plot: Liv's research work doesn't feature enough, her affair with Marc rambles on inconclusively and we never get much of a sense that she's come to any greater self-knowledge, that her grief process has developed in any way or that she's resolved her problems with Luca's family. This makes the book neither a particularly rewarding family saga, nor a very focussed observation of grief.

There are, it has to be said, some beautiful passages to the book, particularly Liv's memories of past happiness with Luca, and her enjoyment of her work. And I think Douglas should be applauded for not giving the book a straightforwardly happy ending - the final chapter was one of the best written bits. I also liked the 'black dog' images that recurred as a symbol for grief. All this hints at a writer of promise - but I didn't think the promise came to anything much in this book, which was in the end rather cliched and sentimental. Sorry to fans of this book - but I do believe in writing honest reviews!
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on 23 June 2017
The writing was descriptive, and sometimes good.
However, the author's perception of widowhood, the sadness leaving in less than 6 months, is hideous.
The protagonist is promiscuous, slutty, judgmental, cruel and vile. One is never given any reason to "be on her side".

Really not worth the time it takes for whispersync to download this trash.
2 people found this helpful
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on 25 November 2015
This is a really difficult book to review. You can predict the main story from the beginning and by about page 20 I was getting bored. I don't like books set in fictional places much. Is the university town supposed to be Durham? What is the point of Seal Island, other than the sub-story of the ferryman? It is inhabited with lights, and a car ferry. The only inhabited island I can think of on the NE coast is Holy Island, and it certainly isn't that. So what was the point of the island to the story? Perhaps NE coast readers can correct me.

There were a couple of pieces of outstanding writing: the bit about the Black Dog, and the scene in the club, with people crying, snogging, yelling, and puking. The latter was fantastic, and I re-read it several times. The author completely captured the sleazy atmosphere of booze, hormones and unresolved sexual tension.

Overall, the book is not fantastic, but I think I will remember it.
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on 21 November 2015
I don't know what it was with this book. The plot line sounds intriguing and heart breaking but as I was reading, I just didn't feel it. I couldn't connect with Liv or Marc and I didn't feel their grief or pain. I couldn't feel any compassion or sympathy for them. In fact, more than anything I felt they were self-indulgent and uncaring.

The story is ok and I was intrigued to find out what went so wrong between Liv and Luca's family... but even that fell a bit flat for me. It wasn't the big controversy I was expecting but maybe I underestimated the love and loyalty of the Felicone family.

The Love of My Life is an easy read that keeps you reading with its suggestive chapter endings that imply something interesting/upsetting is going to happen next. For me, I didn't love it but I guess everyone is different!
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on 13 November 2013
Those of you who have read any of my reviews know I tend to rage about bad spelling, punctuation and grammar. You're in for a surprise this time! A beautifully written, easy to read, emotive and emotional book, full of people you can sympathise (and empathise) with and with a storyline you can get lost in all too easily.

I read it in the car til I felt queasy (no, I wasn't driving!), wished it was an audio book so I didn't have to put it down when I WAS driving, read it when we stopped for petrol, read it when the OH was giving someone directions in the street, read it in the bath with my Kindle in a clear plastic bag (must get a waterproof cover) and read it waiting to go into a meeting.

Liv's pain and bewilderment at losing her beloved Luca is almost tangible; it's easy to see why she then loses her way and lets her relationship with Marc develop.

The only bit that jarred a little for me was Nathalie. Constantly described as a "nice" or "lovely" girl, there was nothing at all to show this side of her character, even though Liv herself said Nathalie was nice.

Despite that one thing, the only possible rating for "The Love of My Life" is 5 stars - this is the first book I've reviewed which I've rated this highly. Read it, people. Read it and weep - genuinely. If you can get past the final paragraph without a lump in your throat, you're a harder person than I am.
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on 16 April 2018
I used to love my chick lit years ago... Its something I've fallen back into since chronic illness came along and made it more difficult to read more 'meatier' genres.

This book is nothing like I had imagined... In a very good way!

I actually didn't like the main character in a way... I didn't approve of her ways. Throughout the book, there was a wide variation of emotions felt, and how I felt about HER changed often.

The book was refreshingly different to all the other romance novels ive read. Like Marian Keys or Nicholas Sparks type of romance novels.

Id say those who like the genre should give this one a try.
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on 14 July 2014
I really enjoyed this book. Starting with the funeral of the love of her life, the story goes back to how they met, why she was not included as one of the big Italian family and how she comes to terms with her life after the death of her soul-mate. It is in now way a soppy, sentimental love story. On the contrary, it's quite a gritty story of her childhood and how that shaped her and brought her together with the Felicone family and ultimately the love of her life. Liv is a hard character to like but her strict upbringing by her bitter and loveless Mother shaped her behaviour and her reputation led the Felicone family to believe she wasn't good enough for their son and made her feel an outsider within the family.
Her grief is all-consuming and at times painful and she deals with is in the only way she know how - rebellious behaviour and sex with her brother-in-law and first boyfriend. We begin to understand why her sister-in-law hates her so much and it's easy to sympathise with her.
This isn't you usual love story and I think it's the better for it as it retains a bit of realism in the face of bereavement.
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on 30 October 2013
I was in two minds about this book, I got it on kindle for 59p and it's good reviews, and because I've had so many bad experience with the "good reviews". To be honest, when I first looked at this book, the title "The love of my life", it only suggests "cliché".

Nevertheless I gave it a go... it was surprisingly a good page turner, and the story was so simple, the wife tries to deal with the aftermath when the husband dies. But the characters are surprisingly likeable, and the way that the story travels between past and present didn't irritate me one little bit, which is quite unusual!

Louise Douglas managed to paint such a simple storyline with lots of colours, and I love the emotional twists and it is not one of the predictable chic-lit that you would expect at all. It is just simply beautiful - and heart breaking without breaking your heart.

I actually very much enjoyed reading it - but I got to give it a 4 star instead of 5, because the author succeed in using a simple material and turned it into a beautiful story... however it is still a bit far from some very nice books that I've read... also there are a lot of typo and grammatical errors, actually quite a lot to make it unforgivable! And I'm very surprised that they didn't get picked up by the publisher.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2012
This novel tells the story of Olivia, following her in the aftermath of the sudden and tragic death of her beloved husband, Luca. Luca really is the "love of her life", and while she tries to pick up the threads of that life, she finds, as so many widows do, that there are no short cuts. Estranged from Luca's family because of something that happened in the past (this back story is gradually revealed in the course of the book), Olivia finds herself isolated and heartbroken. She finds solace in the company and then the love of Luca's twin, Marc, but is this because he is her husband's twin, or does she love him for himself? Marc is married, with children, and if their relationship develops, they risk further estrangement from Luca's family.

I absolutely loved this novel. It is beautifully written, so the writing flows, and the style never gets in the way of the narrative. The emotions, too, are both raw and real. One reviewer questions whether Olivia could fall for Marc so soon after Luca's death, but as someone who re-married just over a year after the death of my own beloved husband, I know this to be possible. So much of this novel rang true for me, and the ending, too, didn't disappoint.

If you enjoy a well-written, literary love story, look no further. I'm sure you cannot help but love this novel.
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on 12 October 2012
I downloaded this book as it was free! There are not enough stars to give credit for this book. The story centres on a middle aged woman 'Olivia' who is going through the motions of her life having just lost her husband. The story flits back in memory form of before and when she met 'Luca' and leading up to them becoming a couple.

As your reading through the story you really feel part of the character. You feel all the emotional turmoil that 'Olivia' is going through. Especially since she has been outcasted from the family due to they way 'Luca' and 'Olivia' fell in love.

I liked the fact that as the story progresses you feel 'Olivia' is beginning to come to terms with the loss of 'Luca' and is almost, as your reading the book, you can feel and go through her throughout the greiving process.

It really is a story of true love, and shows that no matter what true love will always prevail! I really didn't want the story to end! It is one of the best books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed this emotional journey!

Loved it!
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