Sean thought he had a perfect life. He is successful and lives in a beautiful house with his wife Belle and young daughter Amy. That is until Belle reveals she has met someone else and wants Sean to leave.
Fen is a single mother to Connor and leads a quiet and isolated life, caring for her son and working in a bookstore. Estranged from her family, Fen is guarding a terrible secret.
When fate throws them together, a gentle and beautiful relationship develops. However with the past always lingering around the edges, will they ever be able to find peace and happiness?
I read and adored Louise Douglas’ debut novel, The Love Of My Life and so when I saw she had a new book coming out this month, it went straight to the top of my wish list. I wasn’t disappointed, as again Douglas delivers a story that will take you on an emotional roller coaster and keep you completely absorbed.
Sean, whose break-up begins the book, immediately captured me. He arrives home to find his wife has packed up his belongings and has decided to end the relationship. The shock and despair he felt was described so perfectly I could feel it myself and straight away he gained my sympathy.
Fen is even more complex. She is quiet, gentle and very intense. At first I wasn’t sure I really got her, as there’s something almost ethereal about her, but as her life and feelings are explored she also really grew on me. What I love about the characters in Louise Douglas’ books is how absolutely real they are. She never tries to dress them up, and writes them with all the complexities and flaws humans have, so they become completely believable and easy to relate too.
The development of the relationship between Fen and Sean is stunning, but what I really loved reading was the relationship between Sean and his daughter Amy. She is only six when her parents separate and struggles to understand it. Sean also struggles to adapt to the new relationship with his daughter, fighting against the resentment and anger he feels for his wife and his determination to protect his child. I’ve read countless books on relationship break ups from a woman’s perspective, but can’t think of many that are from a man’s. I think Louise Douglas handled this beautifully and sensitively; the feelings and emotions Sean goes through are so vivid. I admit to feeling that I wanted to protect him myself, maybe even falling a little bit in love with him.
Throughout the book, Fen’s secret is a shadow, and I had no idea where this was going. It is hinted at from quite early on, but it’s not until the final quarter of the book that it begins to be revealed. By the time it was I was completely engrossed, and there is a scene where Fen confronts the past that had me holding my breath, being unexpected and incredibly sad. If I have one tiny criticism of the book it would be that after Fen’s guilt is exposed, the other characters seem a little blasé about it, as if it really didn’t matter that much. This didn’t really strike me as a true reaction. I didn’t mind too much and I don’t think it spoils the book, but it is in contrast to the realism of the rest of the book
Missing You is written in the third person, and so we are given the story from both Fen and Sean and this works really well. I was willing them together and groaning when things conspired against them, such as a missed opportunity to say something or a misinterpreted action. Louise Douglas describes emotions so beautifully it is impossible not to become entranced with the characters. Both her first novel and this one feature the loss of a loved one and I wonder how much she draws from personal experience, as it is so convincing. I think what makes Missing You so absorbing is the way Sean and Fen are so easy to relate too and recognise, that as a reader I had to know what happens to them.
This isn’t a fluffy read. While it’s not heavy going and is easy to read, it’s more serious than light chick-lit. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some lighter moments. A chapter that saw Sean getting as drunk as he could after a particularly messy meeting with his ex wife made me laugh. It’s a disgustingly accurate portrayal of drunkenness that is both cringe worthy and funny. The book is very emotion driven and I felt all the ups and downs along with the characters. Louise Douglas writes relationships so very well and isn’t afraid to show their bitter, jealous and manipulative sides while still showing the characters to be good people. Another hit for me from this author and I’ll be watching out eagerly for a third book.
My Rating: 5/5