Delighted to share with you my review for this fantastic debut novel from Charlotte Levin. I found this an utterly captivating read!
What if the problem with your love life is you?
If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.
MY DARLING SAMUEL, I’VE NEVER WRITTEN A LETTER BEFORE. LOVE, OR OTHERWISE….I’LL START FROM OUR BEGINNING. AND I PROMISE IT WILL BE THE ENTIRE TRUTH. SOMETHING NO ONE ELSE SHALL KNOW.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Twenty-something Constance Little is running from her past and chasing after love. Desperate to escape the loniness and monotony of London life (and her creppy housemate Dale), she develops an infacturation for Samuel, the handsome new doctor at the private medical practice where she works.
When Samuel ends their brief yet passionate affair, past wounds arising from her mother’s death and father’s abandonment come to the fore, with love morphing into obsession.
I found If I Can’t Have You a totally captivating and thrilling read.
Thrilling may not be the best word to use, as this book is a dark and unsettling read, dealing with a lot of serious and unpleasant issues. Obsession, self harm, stalking, sexual abuse and physical assault, so a lot of triggers here. However, it instantly sucked me in and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
The opening scene is brilliant. We find our main character on a London tube, as everyone stares at her, battered, front tooth hanging by a thread and blood splatter down her taffeta dress. Something serious has happened here, and I couldn’t wait to find out what!
I won’t talk about the story line. It needs to be read and I would not want to give anything away, I shall instead talk about the way it is written and the characters and emotions involved.
The author has thought up some seriously unlikable, damaged and unstable characters in this book but as I read on there was so much more. Glimpsing inside Constance’s head, as we read of her actions and are told her inner thoughts and memories, I saw a whole other picture and it had my emotions all over the place! The issues and scenes within this story are raw and vivid, and truly make her a victim, but her own problems and obsessions are so wonderfully written and shown to us within the pages of the story that this is more about Constance’s issues as it is of the men encountered within the book.
I found it wonderfully descriptive and yet some of it so subtle, I couldn’t even explain how, yet I could see, so clearly, in my minds eye the surgery, her flat and streets the book is set in. The characters, their actions and emotions leap of the page and the intensity and drama of the story give it such a dramatic yet claustrophobic fell. I loved the feeling of secrecy and danger, and yet running through it such sadness. The main character’s raw grief and the effect it is having on her cuts through the story like a knife, and it is the complex nature of Constance and the way she is written that is utterly superb.
The other characters in the book are also fascinating and add wonderfully to the story. I loved the moments she is with Edward and I thought the use of Dr Franco and the role he plays in the story not just as a character but as a tool to the narrative very well done.
A brilliant psychological thriller, that had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t believe that this was a debut! Role on the next book!!!
Thanks so much to Bethan James of ED Public Relations for my proof copy.