All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Love Your Life (Audiobook) by Sophie Kinsella

on March 11, 2021

Love Your Life 
Sophie Kinsella
Recorded Books
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham
2020, 14hrs 45min
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

Hmm.

I have mixed success with Sophie Kinsella books – the ones I like, I absolutely love. But there are some others that just….really do not work for me and sadly, this one fits more into that category.

Ava is working on a novel and has booked herself into a retreat in Italy. It’s all very anonymous, the participants are encourage to ‘choose the name they want’ for themselves and focus on their writing, not on getting to know their fellow participants. Ava meets “Dutch”, who is shuffled into the writing group when the retreat he actually booked, is cancelled. Ava (known as “Aria”) and Dutch are immediately attracted to each other and embark on a pretty passionate affair. Ava makes up a whole life for Dutch and they’re so enamoured with each other that when the retreat is over, they vow to continue their relationship in the real world. But now they have to actually get to know each other and it turns out that they have very little, if anything at all, in common. Ava loves her dog Harold to an almost alarming degree and her flat is a riot of colour and “rescue” furniture. She’s a vegetarian. Dutch, whose real name is actually Matt works for his family’s very successful company in a high ranking role, has an apartment that’s incredibly sleek and modern with artwork that Ava finds quite terrifying. He loves a good steak or burger and believes firmly that dogs sleep in the kitchen – not on the bed.

I didn’t mind the beginning of this – although I do have to admit, Ava was a character that I didn’t really warm to. She’s okay in the beginning and some of the retreat was actually quite fun and I enjoyed some of the interaction between her and Dutch. But when they’re both back in London, Ava becomes incredibly irritating. I love dogs. I had dogs growing up – my parents had 3 in succession, each living to be over 10 years old. I had 2 dogs myself, with my husband who have since passed on (now we have a cat). I’m a firm believer that they’re part of the family and for the most part, should be inside unless they prefer otherwise. But Ava and her dog Harold, were something else entirely. Harold needs a bit of training and Ava thinks she is Harold’s “friend” not his owner. Basically Harold runs the show and gets whatever he wants no matter what that is and Ava expects Matt to fall into line with that, like her rules should fly at his place as well, which was selfish and irritating. I also really dislike it when vegans or vegetarians attempt to convert those around them. I’m neither but I eat a lot of vegetarian dishes and probably only eat meat maybe 2-3x a week these days. But although you can perhaps suggest occasionally having meals that are more vegetarian based I find it really off-putting when people try to convince, manipulate or guilt or outright demand that those around them give up meat. Ava’s not incredibly militant about it but she does go on about it for enough time that it got very irritating and if I was Matt, I’d be looking to go out and hook myself up with a huge Angus burger. It felt very much like a lot of the sacrifice was expected from Matt – he should be changing his diet and he should be letting Harold do whatever Ava wanted him to do, because Ava’s way was always the right way and everyone else should just do that.

Not going to lie – I skim-listened to quite a bit after Ava and Matt realised that things were not as rosy back in London and picked it up again a few chapters from the end. I did enjoy some of the supporting characters: Ava’s eclectic bunch of friends, especially Nell and Matt’s flatmates, who are responsible for a few of the laughs. I especially enjoyed Nell and Topher and their character arc. But the level of involvement from Ava (the whole “but I love him”) from knowing him like a week and actually knowing nothing about him, not even his name, just wasn’t really something I was able to connect with. Chemistry yes, I get that. But loving someone, like the sort of deep love Ava seemed to believe they had, didn’t feel very likely when they not only didn’t know the most basic of information about each other, but weren’t even in a real life scenario. It was a glamorous location away from jobs and commitments (Harold), families, friends, etc. Everything was paid for, it’s easy to throw yourself into something but for it to be the depth that Ava was proclaiming? Didn’t feel likely. I did like that after things were not so smooth back home that they found a way to work through that but sometimes it was more like, well why?

Okay to listen to but I’m glad I borrowed it.

5/10

Book #35 of 2021


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