From the author of A Hopeless Romantic and Going Home comes an engaging new novel about a young woman who suffers loss and heartbreak—only to regain a chance at happiness when she least expects it.
Thirty-year-old Kate Miller fled London two years ago when her life fell apart spectacularly. Living in New York with her mother and stepfather and working half-heartedly as a literary agent, Kate must return to London when her father, a famous classical musician, undergoes a kidney transplant. She’s only returning for a short visit, or so she thinks. But once in London, she faces the friends who are bound with her forever as a result of one day when life changed for all of them. What really happened before Kate left London? And can she pick up the pieces and allow herself to love her own life again?
Witty, smart, and entertaining, Evans’s heartwarming tale, which was a bestseller in the United Kingdom earlier this year, will delight readers who enjoy novels by Cathy Kelly, Hester Browne, and Marian Keyes.
This reading group guide for The Love of Her Life includes an discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Questions for Discussion
1. When preparing to return to London, Kate remarks, “It will be hard. . . . I had to go back sometime . . . Just wish it wasn’t for this, that’s all” (p. 12). If not for her father’s illness, do you think Kate would have gone back? Would she ever have returned to her old self in New York, or did she need to go back to London to rediscover herself? Do you agree with her that she is “too good at running away” (p. 21)?
2. Discuss Kate’s “new self ” vs. her “old self ” (p. 14). Which Kate do you like better? Which one do you think Kate likes better? Would “old” Kate have shrugged off Andrew the way “new” Kate had at the beginning of the novel?
3. The scene where Kate reenters her old apartment is full of tumultuous emotion. What does Kate see that rips her feelings of comfort away and reminds her “why she was here” (p. 31)? Why do you think what she saw had that effect?
4. How does the author’s use of foreshadowing intensify the moment when the reader finds out what really happened in Kate’s past? How do the flashbacks add to this element? How would the book have been different if it started right after Kate graduated from college?
5. Kate and Mac’s first encounter results in nothing more than a onenight stand, or so it seems. Why do you think Kate remarked that that night she had a “strange sense of certainty, one that she never got back again” (p. 108)? Does she ever get that certainty back? Why doesn’t she make the effort to contact Mac once he leaves?
6. Sue Jordan, Kate’s old boss, criticizes Kate for her current career choice. What is Kate’s response? Why do you think she initially resisted Sue’s offer to write the column? What does Sue mean when she says, “we’re all the same, you know, it’s just different versions of being the same” (p. 180)? Do you agree?
7. As the events of the novel unfold, it appears that Kate is becoming deeply entrenched in the city she tried to forget. How do her struggles with staying or leaving affect her interactions with Mac, Zoe, Francesca, and her family? Do you agree that “if the last few weeks had taught her anything, it was that she . . . had to start being brave and get out there” (p. 354)?
8. When Charly and Kate finally see each other after so many years, were you surprised to learn about Charly’s boyfriend’s ongoing infidelities? Why do all the good memories of their friendship come flooding back? Discuss how their conversation at the pub leads to Kate saying “. . . you [and your boyfriend] deserve each other, Charly, and I can’t feel sorry for you” (p. 368).
9. Kate goes through a tremendous transformation throughout the novel. What makes Kate become comfortable with the person she is? Or does she never reach that milestone?
10. Before Kate returns to New York, Lisa remarks “. . . you were living the life you thought you ought to be living . . . I’m sure you wouldn’t ask for any of what’s happened. But it’s been good for you” (p. 385). Do you agree with Lisa? Which experience do you think helped shape Kate the most? When is she at her weakest? Her strongest?
11. Did the ending of The Love of Her Life surprise you? Is this where Kate is meant to be? Is this the man whom she is meant to be with? Do you think she might run again, or is she here to stay? And why?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Harriet Evans recommends a cocktail she calls “The Harrie:” mix one part sloe gin to three parts champagne. Make some for your book club and give it a try.
2. Connections have been made between Evans’s writing style and director Richard Curtis’s style. Rent Curtis’s Love Actually and see if you like it.
3. Ever had an Andrew, Mac, or Sean in your life? Care to tell the story? Spend a night with your book club talking about old flames!
Harriet Evans is the internationally bestselling author of Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After, Not Without You, A Place for Us, The Butterfly Summer, The Wildflowers. She lives in London. Visit her website at Harriet-Evans.com.