Next up for the 2023 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: a book with a pet character. So many books I read could fit in here, but I chose Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella (Dial Press, 2020). It’s been a while since I read one of Ms. Kinsella’s books, so I figured I was past due to get lost in one of her books again.
Ava’s dating life is not going well, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to succumb to the cold, clinical grasp of the algorithm of dating apps like her friend – she believes in follow her heart, finding love and chemistry the regular way. She’s more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal, which doesn’t always translate well into accomplishing all the many goals she’s set for herself. On a writer’s retreat to Italy (leaving her beloved-but-mischievous dog Harold in the care of her friends), Ava meets ‘Dutch’ (everyone is asked to choose an alias; Ava goes by ‘Aria’), a handsome straggler from a canceled martial arts retreat. The two quickly fall for each other, all the while adhering to the retreat rules: no names, no personal information. Ava knows she’s got it right: she and Dutch are perfect. No baggage, just chemistry.
But when the retreat ends and real life comes slamming back, things aren’t *quite* so perfect. Dutch is actually Matt, the overworked heir to his family’s internationally successful dollhouse company. His parents are stodgy and dislike Ava, Matt has creepy taste in art, Ava’s quirkiness winds him in the ER, and Harold’s mischievousness? YIKES. That chemistry is still there, but what does it matter when the rest of their lives don’t exactly line up? Ava and Matt will have to figure out how to compromise if they want things to be like they were in Italy.
Ava’s way more fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants than I would ever be comfortable with, and I think that’s why I had a bit of a tough time getting into this at first. She’s flighty, can’t commit fully to the zillions of projects she takes on, and is way more about feelings (and making excuses, and lying to herself) than I feel comfortable with. I wasn’t super into her hooking up with Dutch at the writer’s retreat (GIRL, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HIM. HE COULD BE A SERIAL KILLER), but I kept going to see where the book would go. Sophie Kinsella is a solid writer and I’ve enjoyed her in the past, so that helped.
What I really loved were the friend groups. Both Ava and Matt have amazingly supportive friend groups who were a lot of fun to read, and they truly pulled me into the novel. The ending is pretty perfect – no spoilers – but man, I wish I had a friend group like these.
Fun read. Not my favorite of the year, but a solid choice if you’re looking for a little romance with a healthy dose of reality and compromise.
Visit Sophie Kinsella’s website here.