Whatever You Love, By Louise Doughty

Grief and revenge descend into melodrama
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The Independent Culture

It's unfair to compare writers, but I couldn't help thinking what Alice Hoffman or Anne Tyler would have done with this tale of Laura, a mother whose young daughter is run over and killed.

Louise Doughty's prose style is curiously perfunctory ("I rise from the chair ... I step forward ... I approach the bed"). Presumably this is to convey the pain of hearing that one has lost one's child, but it is uninvolving, especially when the story turns melodramatic. Laura is separated from her daughter's father, David, whom she never stopped loving. Now his new wife, Chloe, seems to be sending Laura anonymous spiteful letters. I found the novel's revenge scenario highly plausible; the consequences of it far less so.