Whatever You Love – Louise Doughty

Five words from the blurb: daughter, killed, grief, haunted, love

Whatever You Love is a heartbreaking read. The book focuses on Laura, a mother whose nine-year-old daughter is killed by a car. Her grief oozes from every page and I found the first chapter so sad that I didn’t want to continue reading.

Muscle has memory; the body knows things the mind will not admit. Two police officers were at my door – uniformed, arranged – yet even as the door swung open upon them, which was surely the moment I knew, even then, my conscious self was seeking other explanations, turning round and around like a rat in a cage.

Unfortunately the writing had the ability to suck me in and I found that I couldn’t put it down. I became completely wrapped up in the terrible situation and descended further into her depression.

The second half of the book was a bit different in that it moved away from the grief and became a slightly bizarre tale of revenge. Laura decides to track down the driver of the car, but her mental instability meant it was obvious that this would never lead to good things. I felt that the plot became a little unrealistic at this point, but it did give the book more pace and allowed the reader a little respite from the sadness of the first half.

Whatever You Love  was very easy to read, but I ended it feeling a bit empty. Many parts were so painful that I could barely read them, but the book seemed to offer little more than a glimpse of total misery. It reminded me of The Crying Tree, but without the sentimentality.  

Recommended to anyone who likes emotionally raw page turners, but it was a bit too depressing for me.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

This is a book written from the heart and with deeply perceptive attention to that fine descriptive detail that never feels overbearing but adds to the whole. Dovegreyreader Scribbles

…isn’t high-brow literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it is accessible and enjoyable. Reading Matters

Laura’s grief is palpable, which makes this a harrowing book to read. Books Please

11 replies on “Whatever You Love – Louise Doughty”

Yeahhh, I don’t think I could do this one. After having a child, I have much more empathy and a much harder time reading stories wherein children are hurt, parents grieve, etc. Ouch!

Andi, Yes. Perhaps if I didn’t have children (or they were grown up) I would appreciate this more, but because I have young children this was like reading my worst nightmare. It was too real and too depressing.

I don’t want to say I wouldn’t read this because it would depress me (it definitely would!) because I am willing to read things that rip my heart out. One or two a year perhaps. (We Need To Talk About Kevin for example?) But the whole mental, revenge thing seems a bit of a stretch.

Sandy, I don’t mind heartbreaking books, but I need a reason for them. I liked Kevin because of the nature/nuture debate and I like books that educate me about terrible events in history, but this seemed to depress me for no reason. I can imagine the grief of losing a child. It makes no sense to be subjected to that for pure entertainment.

I tried one of her books two years ago, and I liked the beginning, but the ending was a complete let-down for me – I felt she wrote like an internet-article: all the good stuff in the first chapter, and afterwards it just went downhill.

I liked Kevin and Room as I felt there was more to them than the misery angle and they raised valuable questions but I don’t think this would be my thing at all.

Teresa, Exactly. If you’d like to know what it is like to lose a child then read this book. If you already have any idea about how terrible that would be then there isn’t much point. 🙁

This seems the sort of book I end up suffering through but being glad I did. It does sound gut wrenching though. I have to be in the right frame of mind to read something like this.

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