“Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.
At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.
But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
Sophie Kinsella’s books are known for being laugh-out-loud funny, and light reads. I’ve always found them to be enjoyable and have read every one of her books. Sadly, Love Your Life was a bit of a disappointment for me.
The thing that I struggled with while reading was trying to decide whether or not I liked the characters. Ava is likable enough, while Matt was not. They’re both thirty-somethings and yet they act immaturely and seem much younger. The first hundred or so pages were fun. Ava and Matt are at the writing retreat and have a whirlwind holiday fling in which they fall madly in love with one another. They are convinced that they can make their relationship work when they return home to London, despite knowing nothing about one another.
I really did not like Matt’s character and I think it was obvious that Ava didn’t, either. Their lives did not mesh in the slightest and as I mentioned above, he was immature. In some ways Ava was, too, but it felt like there was too much attempt to convince her of this than there was of Matt.
Ava is made to feel, by either herself or societal expectations or both, that she has to grin and bear it to make it work with Matt, because there’s no way it can be “her problem” that they don’t work out. She becomes fixated on Matt’s past relationships, and on trying to make his family like her; these things would be normal to do in a relationships, somewhat, but she doesn’t even like his family to begin with so I didn’t really see the reason of why she had to do this.
I also just didn’t see the need for them to be together. Was it just that they were both in their late thirties and felt they should be in a relationship rather than not? I hope that wasn’t the case. Either way, it wasn’t fun to read about two people genuinely not getting along, forcing themselves to change their homes and personalities in order to appear to be doing so. I just didn’t see the bigger reason as to why this had to happen for either of them.
The last thing that stood out to me was the culmination of Ava’s love for her dog that results in her choosing to write her book about him. This was so disappointing. I really thought that after separating from Matt she would return to her original idea of writing a romance novel, this time with some different perspective to add to the story.
Instead, she doubles down on her obsession for her dog and writes a memoir about his life. I love my pets as much as the next person and I could understand her wild adoration for him throughout the book but this felt like too much.
I gave this four stars on Goodreads since parts of it were good and made me laugh, but I really think it was a three-star read.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a Sophie Kinsella novel I would recommend one of her older ones, such as Twenties Girl or The Undomestic Goddess. I will also add that the Shopaholic series has a much more relatable, inspiring main character.
Goodreads rating: Four stars