19 February 2010

Book Review: Missing You by Louise Douglas

Sean thought his life was perfect - he was married to wife Belle and they have a young daughter Amy who is the light of their life. But when Belle reveals she's having an affair and wants Sean to move out, he's shell-shocked and heartbroken. Fen works in a bookshop in Bath and lives with her ill son Connor, but they're happy being just the two of them. Fen is hiding a shocking secret that is eating her up, and when she takes in a lodger who turns out to be Sean, the two become closer than they could have imagined. Will the pair be able to bury their demons and come together as a family, or is the past just too much for them to bear and set to ruin their future happiness?

I first came across Louise Douglas back in 2008 when I read her debut novel The Love of My Life and adored it. It seemed too good to be a debut, and really touched me when I read it, and after looking around online, I found it wasn't just me who holds this debut novel very highly. It's been 2 years since that book and I've been eagerly awaiting another release from Louise and finally, it's now here. The blue cover is similar to her first book, and the plot sounded just as emotional and heart-wrenching so when it arrived on my doorstop this morning, I couldn't help but start to read immediately.

Straight away, I was completely absorbed into the world of Sean and Belle, and their troubled marriage. The book is clearly on the side of Sean because we see the entire story in a positive way for him and a more negative way for Belle, and I enjoyed seeing an affair from a male perspective because we don't often see this in women's fiction.The book follows Sean for a large portion of the beginning of the book, and I really began to like and feel sorry for Sean which sets you up brilliantly for the rest of the book.

I adored Fen, the other lead character in the book. She is brought in a little way into the book but is equally as important as Sean, and links Sean's new life to his older one with Belle. Douglas has really captured a beautiful relationship between Fen and her son Connor, and I very much enjoyed how Douglas brings up Connor's medical problems but doesn't make them the be all and end all of these 2 characters, it's just something they deal with. Fen's very likeable and a strong character, and I was on her side throughout the book.

Louise chooses to use a third person present tense narrative which is really interesting for reading, and I really liked the way the book is written. It moves along with the characters perfectly, observing them and their emotions all the time, and drawing you into the book so easily. One of the best things of the book is Douglas' descriptive writing. She really brings to life the city of Bath and its landmarks, seeing them through the eyes of both newcomer Sean and resident Fen gives a rounded perspective and you can imagine them perfectly in your mind as you read them. Her writing is a joy to read, and definitely makes the book so easy to read and enjoy.

I also really enjoyed the mystery element running through the book, I was sure I knew what it was going to be but when all was revealed, I was shocked and loved how Douglas had kept it such a surprise. It was fabulous, and kept me guessing throughout. The reveal of it was very painful, you can sense the emotion in Fen and the other character involved, but thats what makes this book so brilliant, the real emotion it can evoke in a reader, and Douglas is phenomenal at creating that intimacy and relationship between a character and the reader.

This is a book that thrives on the relationships of its main characters and is a very emotional read based on that fact. It pulls at your heartstrings and isn't afraid to do so. It shows the raw side of emotion when a man is left jilted by his wife, and the loneliness and sorrow of a single mother left to cope alone, and evokes such feeling in you when you read it, you can't help but get completely involved. The cover says it's "full of pathos" and I agree fully with that, it's just an absolute pleasure to read.

This is simply women's fiction at its best, and I adored every single page. I was extremely lucky to receive a copy of this book, and I think it is one that is going to stay with me a very long time. The writing, the characters, the places and the story all come together to create a wonderful book that is simply marvellous. You go on a journey with these characters, you feel their ups and downs and I was so desperate to work out for Fen and Sean in the end that I just couldn't put the book down, I HAD to find out how it ended. Simply brilliant, and an absolute must-read!

Rating: 5/5

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