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Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty

Whatever You Love

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Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2010.

Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment:
"A raw, compelling story told with savage beauty. Difficult to read but impossible to put down."

If you like Louise Doughty you might also like to read books by Cath Staincliffe, Maggie O'Farrell and Louise Welsh.

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Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty

I stare at the photo. I try to read his gaze, each fold on his face, the slight frown. I study the photo in the same way that a spy might study the face of a counterpart in a rival organization. I am calm as I make this promise: I am going to find out what you love, then whatever it is, I am going to track it down and I am going to take it away from you. Two police officers knock on Laura's door and her life changes forever. They tell her that her nine-year old daughter Betty has been hit by a car and killed. When justice is slow to arrive, Laura decides to take her own revenge and begins to track down the man responsible. Laura's grief also re-opens old wounds and she is thrown back to the story of her passionate love affair with Betty's father David, their marriage and his subsequent affair with another woman. Haunted by her past, and driven to breaking point by her desire for retribution, Laura discovers the lengths she is willing to go to for love. Whatever You Love is a heart-wrenching novel of revenge, compulsion and desire from acclaimed novelist Louise Doughty.


Doughty creates a haunting, heart-wrenching portrait. Psychologies The opening chapter is electrifyingly painful. From then on the reader is spellbound ... the book is hauntingly believable ... so powerful is the evocation of raw emotion that, the day after i finished it, I woke up with that same feeling. It was some minutes before I realised I was still inside Doughty's book. -- A N Wilson Readers Digest It is an extraordinarly opening, written with such taut understatement that the mother's grief is given a visceral power: we empathise with it immediately ... Whatever You Love is a masterfully constructed novel, at once gripping and tender ... The emotional power of Doughty's prose is such that the reader is complicit in Laura's journey from loss to retribution. Doughty forces us to confront the darkness that lies beneath the skin. The result is a brilliant and brutal novel that continues to unsettle long after the final page has been turned. Observer Absorbing Grazia A stunning tale of grief and the lengths to which a woman must go to come to terms with it. Woman and Home Brilliant, disturbing, heart-wrenching. Daily Mirror This powerful, disturbing and beautifully written novel is highly recommended. 'Louise Doughty is a courageous writer, willing to explore deeper territory with each book ... Doughty is excellent at small physical details of relationships with children - their scent and skin texture, memories the body retains even if the conscious mind can banish them ... Doughty excels at conveying the harrowing grief of Laura's bereavement and her slow emergence into a world entirely changed by the death of her daughter, and skilfully handles a tense and complex plot. This is a powerful portrait of loss and its psychological consequences.
Independent Brilliantly structured

... Like Zoe Heller, Doughty is masterful at combining the texture of ordinary, smugly middle-class, contemporary life with the hidden cliff edges of violence and hatred. Sunday Telegraph The brilliantly constructed narrative ... Doughty has crafted a character who's complex, but always genuine. A compulsive read, this is compelling and unsettling in equal turns Northern Echo In prose that is devastatingly efficient and as stark as winter branches, Louise Doughty scrutinises the riven state of the bereaved, a life of both dulled, unthinking existence and unbearable lucidity ... Novels about love and loss are ten-a-penny, but this one brilliantly defies expectations to the very last page. Unsparing, challenging and terrifically compelling. Daily Mail This, her sixth novel, is a gripping investigation of love, loss and revenge ... Doughty's precise, spare style and skilled plotting is perfectly suited to the exploration of a practical and pragmatic woman plunged into terrible grief. The plot moves faultlessly between past and present as we read about what has gone before ... The story is unsentimental, unsparing and entirely compelling. Beautifully constructed and rawly emotional, this is a starkly brilliant and moving investigation of the depths of human despair. Financial Times brilliantly constructed ... Doughty has crafted a character that's complex but always genuine. A compulsive read after that shocking opening, Whatever You Love is compelling and unsettling in equal turns. Leicester Mercury Doughty has crafted a subtle thriller ... Doughty refuses to compromise: her novel is emotionally raw, sexually frank, psychologically unpredictable. There is something brazen about it: I admire her guts. Guardian Gripping ... The tightly constructed, well writen novel for the intensity it brings to ordinary lives. TLS A slow build drama that'll keep you hooked right the way through. An all-consuming, highly believable tale. Easy Living Well handled. The Times A staggering and heart-wrenching new novel. Granta The author's skill and the depth of feeling reverberating through her writing - the portrayal of a bereaved mother is so precisely and unflinchingly articulated that any reservations about reading such brutally emotive material become secondary ... Written in prose that manages to be matter-of-fact and, at the same time, incandescent with grief and longing, the novel probes the psychodrama of bereavement and shines a light into a dark internal landscape. The Sunday Times The devastating opening to this book is almost too painful to read ... Told in beautiful, simple and searing prose we bear witness to Laura's world as it is ripped apart ... The book builds to a gripping climax, which hooks the reader in ... Structured with a deft hand, with sparse and elegantly constructed prose, Doughty has penned a story of grief, betrayal, loss and vengeance. The Lady Doughty deftly weaves a compelling narrative ... Insights into the formation of character are combines with satisfying details and observations about the perversity of everyday life ... the book's greatest asset - its fully realised and subtly complex narrator. Literary Review

About the Author

Louise Doughty

Louise Doughty is the author of seven novels, including the Top Ten bestseller Apple Tree Yard. Her sixth novel, Whatever You Love, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has also won awards for radio drama and short stories, along with publishing one work of non-fiction, A Novel in a Year, based on her popular newspaper column. She is a critic and cultural commentator for UK and international newspapers and broadcasts regularly for the BBC. She is a former judge of the Man Booker Prize, was Chair of Judges for last year’s Desmond Elliott Award, and a judge for the 2015 Costa Book of the Year Award. She lives in London.

Author photo © Charlie Hopkinson

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd June 2010


Louise Doughty

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Faber and Faber


320 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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