08/07/2015

Missing You (by Louise Douglas)

I think this book must have been recommended to my by Amazon based on my reading preferences and ratings. I had not previously come across anything by Louise Douglas, but the blurb sounded interesting, so it went on my wishlist, and I was given it for Christmas 2013. It sat on my crowded to-be-read shelf for rather a long time before I finally decided to start reading it on Sunday.

Three days later, I’ve finished ‘Missing You’, and it’s not a short book. I struggled to get going with it, at first, but by the time I was about a third of the way through I was hooked. Not that there’s a huge amount of plot, or any real surprises; but the characters felt real, and the situations intriguing.

Sean is the main male protagonist. He’s a likeable guy, if a bit lacking in empathy at times. He’s been married to Belle for eleven years, and they have a six-year-old daughter, Amy, whom he adores. We meet him when he’s being asked to leave the house, and we quickly learn that Belle has been having an affair with someone else.

Sean despairs for a few days, but eventually decides to stay in a bedsit recommended by one of his colleagues. Fen is his landlady, a single mother with a five-year-old son, and some unpleasant memories of her past which only gradually unfold. Fen feels unworthy and unattractive most of the time, but she starts to fall for Sean…and that’s just what he needs, to restore his confidence lift his spirits.

But Sean, who’s prone to drinking too much, still hankers for Belle, and is very worried about what’s happening to his daughter Amy as her family life disintegrates around her…

The story switches between Sean’s and Fen’s viewpoints, charting their growing friendship and more. There’s not a whole lot of plot; the mystery surrounding Fen’s past isn’t as terrible as she had imagined, when it’s finally revealed, but that was okay. The book is primarily about coming to terms with the past, and the need for honesty, while also making wise decisions and moving forward. The title of the book might refer to Sean’s feelings about Belle, or Fen’s feelings about her brother, or indeed their mutual feelings when, for a while, they are apart.

I liked Fen very much, and thought the scenes with the children worked well. Amy is very believable, and Connor is a likeable boy who stays cheerful despite some physical disabilities. It was harder to like Sean, who seems too like a stereotypical beer-swilling insensitive guy, not like men I know and care for at all… and yet he’s very attached to Amy, and gradually learns more about himself and those he cares for.

The ending was positive and hopeful, albeit predictable. I found it a bit abrupt, but perhaps there was no more to be said. Overall, I thought this a good read, though there was rather more bad language than I’m comfortable with.

Available in Kindle form as well as paperback, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

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