Love Always by Harriet Evans
4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads: A compelling and heartrending tale of lost love, family secrets, and those little moments that can change your life forever . . .
When Natasha Kapoor returns to her grandparents’ idyllic coastal home for her beloved grandmother’s funeral, her life is at a turning point. She thought by now she’d be a successful jewelry designer in London with a perfect marriage. Instead, she’s got mounting bills and a soon-to-be ex.
After the funeral, Natasha’s grandfather gives her the long-lost diary of her aunt Cecily. No one in her large and complicated family has ever discussed the tragic accident that took Cecily’s life as a teenager, and within the diary’s pages, Natasha finds a gripping and shocking tale of forbidden love, rivalry, and heartbreak.
Nearly fifty years later, will Cecily’s diary finally explain her family’s dark past and the terrible secret her aunt left behind? Is it possible it’s just the inspiration Natasha needs to take a fresh look at her future, and maybe even give love a second chance? Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin will get hooked on internationally bestselling author Harriet Evans’s warm, witty, and absorbing novel filled with original, rootworthy characters and complex family issues.
My take: This book is best read with a British accent in your head. It helps with the tricky British words like fags (cigarettes), jumper (sweater), fringe (bangs). It also adds a lot of character. What I enjoyed most about this book, besides the story which kept pulling me back in even when I really had other things to do, is how easily the family drama was a microcosm of world events. Martin Luther King Jr. was in a Birmingham jail for proclaiming that all men are equal regardless of race, class or religion while the Kapoors who were mixed race, were struggling with being treated equally. Each child responding differently to injustices at school and with their cousins.
At the same time, in London it was the Stephen Ward trial which I know nothing about, I'm afraid. What I gathered is that there was sexual exploits with prostitutes, lying to parliament and ultimately a scapegoat was chosen to play out on the media stage. Intriguing. One of the Kapoors is also chosen as a scapegoat for all that went wrong that summer and the following years while the guilty party kept the secrets.
The microcosm of politics is very subtle, mind you. I just liked it.
Natasha's life falls apart completely. The triangles of her life, work, family and social all crumble simultaneously. She's on the verge of bankruptcy, she discovered her husband is having an affair and realizes the marriage has been over for a long time, and she alienates a close friend, although she does still have her cousin, Jay and friend whose name I blanked on. Regardless, she is feeling utterly alone with the death of her grandmother and discoveries regarding her mother who has not been a prominent parental feature in her life, anyway.
Evans does a spectacular job with dealing in family dynamics. Children, feeling wronged by their parents, make conscious choices to not be like them and ultimately marry people like their parents, repeat history and eventually come full circle to make peace with their parents, family and history. She also explores spousal infidelity and contrasts different coping mechanisms through her characters.
I really enjoyed the story, the characters, the mystery and intrigue, the two time periods and the full circle. Very satisfying read.
Now that I have your attention - I have one copy to offer thanks to Galley Books! Yay! Fill out form below. For extra points that don't count but might be interesting and ONLY if it is at least a little bit removed (not your sister's secret or your mother's secret if she's still living), make a comment and tell your family skeleton.
Only if nobody living would mind.