Monday, February 28, 2022

Book Review: The Love of My Life

By Jami Denison

How well do you really know the person sleeping next to you? That question is at the heart of the domestic thriller, a genre that has ridden a wave of popularity since the 2012 publication of Gone Girl. But not all lying spouses are hiding murder or mafia ties in their past. Sometimes the secrets are about sadness, loss, and love.

In Rosie Walsh’s follow-up to Ghosted, The Love of My Life, Emma and Leo seem to have the perfect marriage. He’s an obituary writer; she’s a well-known marine biologist who once had her own BBC program. They have a two-year-old daughter, Ruby, and the news that Emma has survived a bout with cancer should make everything perfect. Instead, Leo accidentally stumbles on proof that Emma did not graduate from the college where she claimed to hold a degree. Pulling on that one thread unravels everything Leo thought he knew about Emma, from the reason she was let go from the BBC to her own name. As Emma pretends everything is alright, eventually Leo is forced to confront the one question no father ever wants to ask. 

Even though The Love of My Life is told from both (first person) perspectives, at first Emma comes across like a liar and poor sweet Leo like a victim. The clues appeared obvious and Emma’s story felt like one I’d read several times before. I found the first several chapters hard to get through, and I only stuck with the story because I appreciated the writing so much.

I’m very glad I kept reading. Even though Walsh solves half the mystery with an info dump right around the structural halfway mark, Emma’s past turned out to be nothing like I’d imagined it, and all of the author’s earlier clues were fake-outs. Emma reveals herself to be an extremely likeable heroine who suffered horrible losses and betrayals as a college student, but pulled herself out of the mess admirably and made a wonderful life for herself. 

As the novel progresses, all of Emma’s actions are explained and justified. Even seemingly random subplots about a missing celebrity and Emma’s possible stalkers tie into the central mystery. There’s a plot twist near the end that I saw coming, but it was completely necessary to spin the story in the direction necessary for the most emotionally satisfying ending. The only misplaced note comes in the form of Emma’s best friend Jill, who takes actions greatly out of proportion to her role in the story.

The Love of My Life begins by asking how well a person really knows their spouse. It ends by asking what it takes to forgive. In between is a gripping mystery that readers won’t be able to put down. 

Thanks to Viking for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your perspective; it was well-written, but I was disappointed my the anti-climactic ending (given the climactic middle). I was certainly expecting a twist regarding Jill that was more surprising, as well as Sheila, and feel there were a lot of loose ends. I was half expecting a big turn at the end where Emma turned out to be a devious liar…