“ Author: Louise Douglas / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 16 January 2009 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Pan Macmillan / Title: The Love of My Life / ISBN 13: 9780330453585 / ISBN 10: 0330453585 / Alternative EAN: 9780230532076 „
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I bought this book on my Kindle as it was a decent price at the time and I had been recommended to try this author by a few people. I didn't have any expectations of it and after a few rather poor reads I was looking forward to reading something different. This was definitely a very readable book, I did want to keep turning pages but it didn't have a particularly amazing storyline and it isn't still in my head and I only finished it a week ago!
The story is told by Olivia who has been told by her sister to write down everything that has happened to help her to come to terms with it and this is where we first meet her, beginning that journey. She writes down the events of the last year and how she has come to be living with her sister. Olivia is a widow, her husband Luca was killed in a car crash a year previously and she is struggling with her grief, she doesn't know who she is, where she wants to live, what she wants to do.
She moves away from London where she lived with Luca and returns to her family home town which is where she first met Luca. none of Olivia's family are there anymore but Luca's is and it is clear that she is not exactly welcomed back. Luca's family act strangely towards her and it is obvious that there is a lot of history behind them all.
The story darts from past to present so we get to know what happened. Whilst we are learning about how Olivia is trying to get on with her life and deal with the grief we are also learning about her childhood, how she was brought up, how she met Luca and what happened between everyone to make his family be far from friendly towards her now despite her recent widowed status.
I thought the character of Olivia was really well formed, the way her grief was described as a black dog was quite good although it didn't go into too much detail about that I think perhaps if it did it may have made the story more hard going than it already was. Although I couldn't really relate to Olivia I did begin to find myself wishing she would do things such as confront Luca's family, speak to people differently and so forth and I think this desperate feeling I was having was what the author intended and she created it well. The other character we got to know was Marc- Luca's twin brother. I found that he was quite well formed although sometimes I wasn't sure why he did the things he did and it was never quite explained so it was a little difficult to really get my head around him and some improvement here would have been useful. The way in which Louise Douglas has described both Luca's mother and Olivia's mother were brilliant, I could really see them as formed characters and felt quite angry towards them. She created these characters really well.
Some parts of this story was quite predictable and it almost made me feel disappointed as I thought not another book going down this same route... but it still made me want to carry on reading it. There were quite a few levels to this book, we were learning about Olivia's past form her childhood to her grown up years, we were also learning about her grief and how it affected her relationship with people and we also learnt about her new job and this added lots of interesting parts, with several elements happening in this book it was difficult to get bored and it made me want to keep turning pages. However, it also had a negative point- so many parts to it there were some loose ends which weren't quite cleared up, these didn't matter all that much as it wasn't a big part of the story but afterwards I was left with a few unanswered questioned which I don't really like.
The story was easy to read, it plunged straight in from page one and so I instantly became engrossed in it. There were lots of descriptions throughout this book of places, memories and so forth and I think they were really well described without being too length that it would make my mind wander. It helped me to picture the atmosphere and to get to know the characters. You don't need an indepth knowledge in anything to read this so it's an easy read.
I did enjoy reading this book and thought it was really interesting. I think it was a tough subject to tackle but was done so in a very sensitive way. I finished it a week ago and when I sat down to write this review I found it hard to actually remember what the book was about so although I found it interesting at the time I think it shows that this book isn't an outstanding read. I did enjoy it and do recommend it but it isn't up there in my top books. I will read more from this author as I did enjoy it.
I love a good book that absorbs me into the story and let's me live and breathe with the characters, and this book is just what the doctor ordered! I picked up The Love Of My Life by pure accident at a book stall, I thought the title definitely appealed to me as my favoured chick lit mushy love story so I bought it straight away and began reading on the way home. Little did I know that I would be a book I couldn't put down!
Liv, when she was a teenager, caused havoc everywhere she went. Sensitive yet sexually charged, she unknowingly attracted all the men her way and made her own fun with her best friend to make a change from her dull and boring life within the household of her mother and her much hated boyfriend. Liv begins working in Marinella's, a local and very popular Italian restaurant and becomes close to the twins who's family owns the place; Marc and Luca. Liv continues with the tales of her adventures with the twins and her shifts at Marinella's. Liv causes scandal within the town and is disowned by her mother and her job at the restaurant and it all unfolds from there.
Liv is a frustrating character as she is selfish and thoughtless, but the reader is dawn to empathise with her and want the best for her. It's possibly a little heavy for pool side reading but its a fantastic read and I would recommend to anyone who loves a good drama with a generous helping of twists!
My main motivation for buying this book was that it was on offer at the great price of 99p on my Google Play book reader on my phone. I liked the sound of the synopsis because it offered something a little different to the usual chick-lit love story, and despite not expecting much from this novel, I was completely absorbed by it.
This isn't so much a boy-meets-girl story, but the focus of the novel is around grief and loneliness. It sounds a bit depressing, but in actual fact I found it a really heartwarming read. The main character is Olivia, who is coming to terms with the death of her husband, Luca. She returns to her childhood town to be closer to Luca who is buried in his hometown, but finds she is made very unwelcome by his family. Luca's family hold a grudge against Olivia, and we are left in suspense throughout most of the book waiting to find out why they dislike her so much.
Struck with grief, Olivia begins an affair with Luca's twin brother, Marc, as he is the only person to understand the depth of her grief. They both know it is purely the grief and circumstances which have led to their affair, but it seems to be the only thing that helps them get through the emptiness left by Luca's death.
==Style of Writing==
I was very surprised to discover that this was the author's debut novel, as the style of writing is exceptional in my opinion. The novel is written so that it follows the current events in real time, alongside the story of how everyone arrived at this point, in alternating chapters. So one chapter will follow Olivia as a teenager, and the ins and outs of her growing up in her home town, and the following chapter will be about her moving back from London, and trying to overcome her grief. I found this was a very interesting way of engaging with the reader, and it held my attention all the way through.
The alternating chapters mean that in effect, you are actually following two stories here. But it's not done in a way that could be confusing or conflicting. Instead, it just makes the reader feel that they can really connect with the characters. Knowing the story of how everyone evolved throughout the book, and their teens, means that you find yourself empathising with characters whom you might not have given the time of day if you didn't have this background story. It also adds some lovely atmosphere to the book, as we slip between future and present, the author will be describing a summer in the past, and then the present will be in deepest winter. This brought lovely contrast to each chapter, and also brings the scenes to life as she uses things like thunderstorms to bring drama to certain events.
I found myself completely absorbed in this book, because of the dual-plot aspect. So at the end of one chapter I was left on a cliff-hanger wanting to know what happened next, and then the following chapter would pick up from where a previous cliff-hanger had been left. This meant I was very reluctant to put the book down, and consequently nearly missed getting off at the right train station when reading it!
The thing I loved about this book, was that it somehow managed to get me empathising with a main character who in reality, I shouldn't really like. I think the fact we get to know the characters so well by following them through the years, helps to connect with them in a way you wouldn't usually expect in a novel, so I found myself wondering at the end how I would feel if I'd met this character in real life. On paper, Olivia is the kind of girl I would have avoided at all costs in school, as she's confident, outgoing, a bit of a rebel and to be honest, could be perceived as a little on the promiscuous side. But by getting to know her through the book, you can't help but feel sorry for her as her naivity and live-for -the-moment attitude results in her getting into some very regretful situations, and her family and Luca's family are very unforgiving. She is a very "real" character, and rather than being depicted as a hard done by grieving widow, we are left in no doubt that Olivia is by no means perfect, and she has made many mistakes and poor judgement calls in the past.
Even though her husband, Luca, is already departed at the beginning of the book, we do get to know a little about his character from the earlier story. We are also introduced to Olivia's sister, best friend, mother, and Luca's family. All of these play a part in the story, and are believable characters whether you like them or not. One thing that is very clear is the love that was felt between Olivia and her husband. She refers to him constantly throughout the book, when they were growing up and after his death, and my eyes welled up a couple of times as she described the little things she missed. It made me very grateful for my own marriage, as she describes the little things like watching TV in companionable silence, or Sundays spent having a duvet day with the newspapers, which she misses more than the spectacular stuff like holidays or weddings. These are things we all take for granted, but they would be sadly missed if they were no longer there.
I absolutely loved this book, and will definitely be seeking out more work by this author. The style of writing was unusual, and I loved the fact it's a bit of a "dark" novel rather than being a predictable chick-lit happy ever after novel. I liked the fact the book begins with the outcome, and then tracks back to the journey there rather than the story being told in the usual linear fashion.
There are some great sub-plots running throughout the novel, which captivated me and left me wanting more at the end of each chapter. I found myself connecting to the main character in a way I didn't expect, and felt quite angry at the way her husband's family treat her. This book made me smile, made me thankful for my lovely husband, and also brought a tear to my eye. It also evoked anger at one point, about how badly the main character was being treated by the family, and that is unusual for me to get so affected by a book. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants something a bit different to the usual boy-meets-girl stuff.
(This review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
One of the things that I love about the Amazon website is the way that it shows you other things that people have bought who also bought something that you are looking at. I often use these as a way of browsing and through this I have discovered some pretty good authors that I might not have read otherwise. It was through these suggestions that I stumbled across 'The Love of My Life' which is the début novel of Louise Douglas. It is a very moving and absorbing read and after having read it I shall definitely look out for more from this new author.
This book tells the story of Olivia and what happens after (and before) her young husband, Luca, is tragically killed in a car accident. The story is told in the first person by Olivia herself and alternates between the present day and her reminiscences of the past. The reader gets to know Olivia very well and gradually gets to piece together pieces of her life which helps one to understand why the Felicones, Luca's family, are so unsympathetic towards her.
Olivia is a strange central character. I actually warmed to her quite a lot but it could have also been very easy to hate her. She has a rather self destructive streak and some of her previous actions could have easily have helped her end up as a guest on the Jeremy Kyle Show. Having sex with her first boyfriend under the pier, an affair with the dad of the children she babysits for and eloping with Luca just days before he is to marry his fiancé Nathalie are not actions that are likely to endear her to the reader. However, these are all actions from the past and now she is a grieving widow with no one to turn to. That is until a chance meeting with Luca's twin brother Marc who is feeling almost as bad as she does. By helping each other come to terms with what happened, she could be in danger of making the same mistakes all over again, especially as Marc is now married to Nathalie. It might all sound quite confusing but it is really quite straightforward and easy to follow.
I really enjoyed Louise Douglas's style of writing and loved the way that it switched between the past and the present. It was well paced with relatively short chapters which I always enjoy. The characters were fascinating, especially Olivia. I also liked reading about Luca and understanding what had kept drawing him and Olivia together.
I did wonder whether I would find this book too sad,as it is about a young woman dealing with her grief. However, although it is very moving, and at times I did feel tears pricking in my eyes, I also found it quite uplifting. On the back of the book it is described as 'sad but lovely' and I think that sums it up exactly.
The paperback version of The Love of my Life is currently available on Amazon for only £3.94 (January 2011)
This is one of those books that throws you straight into the action! Olivia returns to her hometown to attend a funeral. That's pretty normal, you think, until you learn that its the funeral of her husband Luca, and his family don't want her there at all.
The introduction is so well written that you can't put it down until you've found out what an earth went wrong...before that, though, you learn that Olivia and Marc, Luca's brother, are getting a little too close while helping each other come to terms with his death. It's hard to condemn their affair when you think of it from their point of view, and feel their grief. Although its forbidden, and it can only end in disaster, you'll want Olivia to have a little happiness, and Marc seems to give her that.
Throughout the book you learn about Olivia and Luca, and why she eventually gives up and lets his family win. And probably fall for Luca and Marc a little too, as they are both such lovely men.
Olivia is so real, and while she certainly isn't perfect, it's mesmerising to read about someone who feels so alive. The descriptions of her growing up are brilliant, and some bits will move you to tears.
Sometimes you pick a book up and are hooked from the very first page and can't put it down. This happened today when I began The Love Of My Life by Louise Douglas, and enjoying a rare day to myself, finished it in one sitting.
Olivia Felicone has recently lost her beloved husband, Luca, in a car crash. We join her at his funeral, away from London where they had made a home, but back in their northern home town of Watersford. However it's clear that something is amiss as Luca's Family are far from welcoming to their son's widow.
As Olivia struggles to come to terms with her grief she leaves her home in London and returns to Watersford to be near Luca and finds herself turning to his twin brother Marc for comfort, a dangerous path that can only cause more heartbreak for all.
It is no exaggeration to say I absolutly loved this book and couldn't put it down. The story is told in the first person by Olivia, and switches from past and present in short and sometimes snappy chapters. Some only lasted 2 pages... in fact there are 60 chapters in just 328 pages. I found this quick and changing pace kept me intrigued throughout and alternating from past to present added an aura of suspense and had me desperate to find out the truth. Why did her late husbands family hate her so much?
What I really liked about the book was the writing of the characters, particularly Olivia who was the most real character I have probably ever come across. As we delve back into her past we find a flawed character who has made some mistakes. While they are not admirable, they are so absolutly human I could not dislike her at all, in fact felt great sympathy for a girl who was largely mis-understood and craved the love, family and acceptance she had been denied from her own cold and bitter mother.
Watersford, where the story is set and where Olivia, Luca and Mark grew up is a small town, with a small town mentality, and with her reputation shattered isn't the kind of friend the proud and protective Angela Felicone wants for either of her son's. I immediately related to the descriptions and feelings Olivia experiences, having lived in a small town myself.
Back in the present it's clear how much Olivia had loved and relied on Luca. At the beginning, a whole chapter, or 3 pages, is devoted to Olivia describing him. It's in a straightforward way, each sentence starting 'Luca' and is about the mundane but unique things, but it's the small things we all remember most about loved one's. For me rather than give us an impression of Luca as a person, it told me of the passion and love Olivia had for him.
As Olivia turns to Marc in her grief, I should probably have felt disgusted and disliked her for it, but I couldn't. I felt so sorry for her, alone in her grief and ostracised by her in laws, I could understand why she would do this in her vulnarability. My dislike, instead turned to the supposed 'wronged' members of the family. The way the author projected the body language, and sly comments, the kind that would not be apparent to anyone other than the victim of such malice were fantastic. I was reminded of my ex mother in law at times, and those moments when only you know that little remark is telling you your not good enough for their son. Again, I related to Olivia and despite her flaws loved and championed her.
I found this quite an emotional book, particularly at the end where my tears flowed freely. Throughout the book I found myself nodding as I recognised some-one or myself in the characters, angry at the unfair treatment towards Olivia, and with a lump in my throat at the sadness of it all.
The front cover of the book and the title suggest this is a chic-lit book. While it's probably going to appeal to women, I found it to be far deeper and darker than your usual chic-lit novel. Comparing it books on a similar theme like Ps I love you ( Cecelia Aherne) and Anybody Out There (Marian Keyes) it's more brutal and solid. While there's hope for Olivia in the book, there's no fairy story. The Love Of My Life is Louise Douglas' first novel, and I certainly look forward to her next, her ability to capture raw emotion and write a completely believable story is superb
I found this book to be frighteningly real, showing human flaws in all the characters. There was not a moment throughout when it became self pitying, contrived or weak. It's a beautiful story of human weakness, family dynamics and true love lost.
I seem to have a bit of a library obssession at the moment, checking out big piles of books at a time then panicking that I'll never read them in the 3 weeks that my library gives me! Still, I carry on reserving books and checking them, usually based on my Amazon recommendations. This time, I thought I would try something a bit different from my usual chick-lit, so I chose this particular book, which to be honest really didn't look like something I would pick myself but I am very glad that I did.
Olivia Felicone has just been made a widow after her husband Luca died in a car accident. Luca was the love of Olivia's life, and she's not sure how she can go on without him. She isn't close to the Felicone family, but begins an affair with Luca's twin brother Marc behind everyone's backs, as it makes them both feel closer to Luca. But is it really the best thing for both of them?
When I read the plot of the book, I thought it sounded very interesting, and I was intrigued to see how the author was going to tackle the issue of a widow having a relationship with her brother-in-law, and also in trying not to make the lead character of Olivia hateable because of it. Amazingly, Douglas has succeeded in making the story believable and yet allowing you to still like Olivia, and understand why she is continuing in her actions. Olivia is a very likeable character, and because of the way the story is written, you do feel very sorry for her, and almos develop feelings of hatred towards the Felicone family for their treatment of Olivia.
The thing that made this book unique for me was the way in which the author has chosen to approach the story. The book starts in the present day, Olivia telling us her husband has died and it begins around the day of Luca's funeral. But after this, the book goes into Olivia's past, beginning with her as a small child and developing with Olivia as she grows into a teenage girl, living a life with boys, love, sex and the Felicone twins. Douglas has chosen to write both the past and present together in the book, with alternating chapters making the book easy to read. One chapter is set in the present, and immediately following that is another chapter on the past, somewhat explaining things mentioned in the previous chapter or earlier in the book.
It is the use of this style of writing which keeps the mystery element of the story alive. From the start, it is obvious that the Felicone family don't like Olivia, particularly Marc's wife Nathalie, but we have no idea why this is. Throughout the book, I was shocked at the family's treatment of Olivia, and the book was fairly slow in revealing the truth and why things were so bad between the two groups. I did get a bit annoyed at having to wait for the vast majority of the book to be read before we found out the truth about why things are so bad, but it does add something to the story, a real mystery and certainly makes you want to keep reading on.
The characters are cleverly used in the book. Olivia is he narrator of the book, telling us the story in the first person. She is likeable and you really feel for her after the loss of her husband. The Felicone family make up the bulk of the other cast members. Luca's mother and father, Angela and Maurizio are Italians, and work hard, but Angela clearly has a problem with her daughter-in-law although we don't know why. There are 3 other brothers; Stefano, Carlo and Fabio who we don't really meet other than briefly at Luca's funeral, Marc's wife Nathalie, a horrible woman who I hated throughout the book and had no sympathy for at all, and of course Marc himself. I wanted to dislike him for taking advantage of a grieving widow but I just couldn't. The writer has made him a sympathetic character and this is why the relationship between he and Olivia works so well, you completely understand why it is happening and the feelings behind it. As well as the Felicone's, we also briefly meet Olivia's sister Lynette and her awful mother, a character I couldn't stand but was well written.
Considering this is a debut novel, I absolutely loved it. Although the blurb of the book proclaims that the book is about the affair between Olivia and her brother-in-law Marc, I felt this wasn't the total plot. With the story being told in alternate chapters and different points in Olivia's life, we are led through many different stories, feelings, emotions and stages of Olivia's life. We learn about her friendship with the Felicone twins growing up, how it changed, and how things turned out so awfully between the couple and the family. The author has really grasped all human relationships and emotions in this book, keeping you guessing about things all the way. It was a joy to read, and I just couldn't put it down. I was desperate to find out what had happened between Olivia and the Felicone's, and the story which led up to this was so detailed and well told, you felt like you were right in the middle of it with Olivia. An amazing debut, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone. Superb.
ISBN: 978-0230532076. Published by Macmillan in February 2008. The hardback edition has 400 pages, but these really whizz by when you're reading it! The hardback is available on Amazon now for £9.09, with the paperback due for release in February 2009.
Thank you for reading.