I've just realised that I wrote this Orange longlister post last week and never posted it - so somewhat belatedly, here it is.
I felt a bit shocked by my ability to almost enjoy Whatever you love, since it opens with the death of a nine-year-old . Perhaps enjoy is not quite the right word, I was intrigued by the story, but particularly by a parallel story running through the novel. For when single Mum Laura, loses her daughter Betty in a hit-and-run, it provides her with the impetus to think back over her relationship with Betty's father, her former husband David. And I did enjoy these passages, the story of how they got together and their evident passion for each other. I just felt guilty for liking what seemed to be an old fashioned love story, in the middle of the description of a sad event. Of course, this happier, and subsequently less happy story (because of course we know that it hasn't worked out as Laura is now a single mother) is interspersed with the grief and dreadfulness of having had a child killed and the slow coming to terms of it.
It was certainly another Orange dealing with difficult subject material. But still immensely readable. And so well handled. I have not come across Louise Doughty's work before; this is her sixth novel, and I am certainly going to seek her out at the library. I was also intrigued to discover that she has written a reference book for aspiring novelists called Novel in a year. I'd be interested to read about the techniques for novel writing that she imparts in it, because it did strike me that Whatever you love was incredibly tightly constructed, which may have been a large factor in making it so readable.
Many thanks to David from Faber and Faber who sent me a copy of this book to read.
Margaret Millar’s The Fiend (1964; 2016)
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