Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella
Publication Date: October 27th, 2020
Publisher: The Dial Press via Penguin Random House
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?
As a long-time fan of Sophie Kinsella, the moment that I heard about this book, I knew I had to have it. For all of my anticipation though, Love Your Life was a very disappointing read for me. The premise sounds adorable and quirky but the actual story was frustrating, cringy and painful to read. I will say though, if you are a fan of unlikable characters… this book it for you.
“Unlikable” pretty much sums up every single character in this story perfectly. Aria/Ava is painfully ignorantly optimistic in terms of life, relationships and her career. Dutch/Matt is an ungrateful spoiled passive man-child. Each of their friend groups are full of jerks… honestly, I could not find a single character in this book that I cared about. My main focus on finishing it was in hopes that SOMEONE would have some growth and make it all worth it. Let me say, that did not happen. There was an attempt at an arc and growth for everyone but it was tacked on to the last few chapters and most of it happened off page and we are just expected to accept these character changes with no real context or sense of it being earned.
On that note, the general plotting of the book was so odd. The relationship happened insanely quickly and the retreat really only took place within a couple chapters. I was expecting this portion to take up at least half of the book so that we could actually understand why these two characters want to continue their tryst beyond the confines of the retreat. As it is, these two continuing their relationship and being considered #goals by their fellow retreat-ers was absolutely mind boggling. More than once I shouted at the book out loud “Why are you even together?!”. As I said before, if there was a redemption arc where in the end it was all worth it then this book would have turned around for me but the pacing in which that happened was jarring and seemingly thrown in.
Another thing that I do want to touch on is that there is a side-character with a medical condition that I don’t feel was tastefully added. It seemed like this aspect was put in the story literally as catalyst to make the friend groups be ‘better people’. It just didn’t sit right with me.
Honestly, I could go on but I don’t want to further detail my dislikes as I feel that the points I’ve raised touch on my biggest gripes and focus on plot, characters and a little bit of sensitivity issues. Of all of the Sophie Kinsella books that I’ve read, this is certainly the first that I have given a 1-star to and I am hoping it is a one-off as I do plan to check out her future new releases.