When Ava arrives at a writing retreat in Italy, she’s told that she can’t reveal any personal information, including her name. After all, the purpose of the writing retreat is to shut off all communication with the outside world, and for the participants to focus on their stories. It’s just a harmless idea, until Ava, as “Aria”, meets “Dutch”, a participant from a cancelled neighboring martial arts retreat. Sparks fly, and the two of them embark on a whirlwind “baggage-free” romance of their own. No personal details can be shared: from their real names, their ages, their jobs, or even their dating history. Everything is perfect, until Aria and Dutch must return to their regular lives, as Ava and Matt.
From the moment they arrive back in London, Ava and Matt are faced with a harsh reality: their picture perfect romance isn’t all it’s chalked up to be. It seems like they can’t get along in any shape, way, or form. Whether it’s a simple opinion on food, or artwork, or apartments, or dogs, or room temperature – the list simply never ends. Can Ava and Matt learn to compromise and to love each other’s lives, or will they go their separate ways?
- Title: Love Your Life
- Author: Sophie Kinsella
- Publisher: Dial Press
- Genre: Contemporary, Adult, Romance
- Age Range: Adult
- Trigger warnings: Mentions of parental death
- Rating: ★★★☆☆
I’ve read several of Sophie Kinsella’s books before — I had picked up a copy of Confessions of a Shopaholic at an airport once, and a couple of her standalones (I Owe You One, Wedding Night, I’ve Got Your Number) shortly after. Just like all of Kinsella’s other books that I’ve read, Love Your Life was equally charming and heartwarming. I had a fair idea of what to expect from Kinsella — An optimistic heroine, witty banter, and a scene where the love interest and main character pretty much give each other a piece of their own minds for the first time, which leads them to reevaluate their life choices. And while all of that was true, I was still pleasantly surprised by Love Your Life.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous about this one — It took me a couple of chapters before I really started to enjoy it. First, I felt like the “instant attraction” trope to be a little unbelievable. Instant attraction as a trope is one of my least favorites, although occasionally I’m pleasantly surprised. I feel like the instant attraction trope is usually overdone, and often doesn’t allow for characters to actually grow and develop. To me, it felt like Ava and Matt – or Aria and Dutch – were exchanging “I Love You”’s within three days of knowing each other. Three days! Who says “I Love You” in three days, to a stranger they’ve just met, who they know nothing about? Might I reiterate that they don’t even know each other’s real names or their jobs, or even where they live at this point? Which is why I wasn’t surprised when their relationship started to fall apart in London. There was simply no foundation to their relationship. What I love about Kinsella’s writing is that everything is clearly laid out for you. You can see where the relationship starts to crumble; things that seem like throwaway bits in the beginning are never that. For the majority of the book, I was actively rooting against Ava and Matt. I remember thinking “I’ve never wanted a love interest and the main character to NOT work out so badly” for the majority of the book, but by the very end, I came to understand why Ava and Matt had fallen for each other in the first place, and was rooting for them. I just wish it didn’t take the entire book for me to finally understand what they found appealing about each other.
“You don’t have to be ready to love anything and everything you come across.”
I found Ava to be likable, but frustrating at times. She was a refreshing main character, one riddled with faults – as most Sophie Kinsella characters are. Ava is a hoarder. She’s flighty. She has a need to “rescue” everything, from books, to furniture, to anything and everything else. But for all of her faults, there are some redeeming factors: she’s loyal, she’s optimistic, she’s passionate and curious and dedicated. Ava would drop everything at a moment’s notice for her friends and family, including her dog Harold. Oh, I absolutely adored Harold! Such an endearing dog, and his personality reminds me of my own Toto.
Yes, Love Your Life is a rom-com, but the real love story in Love Your Life isn’t between Ava and Matt — or Aria and Dutch, but more so, their friends. Ava’s friends are truly what you’d call ride-or-die. I don’t think there’s anything they wouldn’t do for each other. We’ve got Nell, a brutally honest friend with some serious health issues, Sarika, a logical dater who believes that love can be found through algorithms only, and Maud, a single mother with a never-ending list of favors. I was charmed equally by them all. On Matt’s side, we’ve got Topher and Nihal, two antisocial friends, that are just as loyal. All of whom don’t shy away from telling Ava and Matt what they need to hear. Something that I’ve always loved about Kinsella’s books is how well-fleshed out every character is. Each character is brimming with personality.
Overall, I would give Love Your Life 3 stars, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and easy read!
About the Author
Sophie Kinsella has sold over 40 million copies of her books in more than 60 countries, and she has been translated into over 40 languages.
Sophie Kinsella first hit the UK bestseller lists in September 2000 with her first novel in the Shopaholic series – The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (also published as Confessions of a Shopaholic). Sophie has also written seven standalone novels which have all been bestsellers in the UK, USA and other countries around the world.
Sophie wrote her first novel under her real name, Madeleine Wickham, at the tender age of 24, whilst she was working as a financial journalist. The Tennis Party was immediately hailed as a success by critics and the public alike and became a top ten bestseller. She went on to publish six more novels as Madeleine Wickham: A Desirable Residence, Swimming Pool Sunday, The Gatecrasher, The Wedding Girl, Cocktails for Three and Sleeping Arrangements.
Sophie was born in London. She studied music at New College, Oxford, but after a year switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She now lives in London, UK, with her husband and family.