Title: A Life Worth Living
Author: Louise Guy
Published: October 16th 2018
Publisher: Go Direct Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian
Rating: 4.5 stars
Leah Donaldson and Eve West may be identical twins, but their personalities and lives couldn’t be more different.
A journalist, Leah is a caring, compassionate person who would do anything for those she loves, especially her sister’s twin daughters. She longs for a life like Eve’s.
Real estate agent Eve envies her sister’s independence. She simply isn’t cut out to be the perfect wife and mother. Is this what has contributed to her estrangement from her husband and her affair with another man?
Are Eve and Leah living the wrong lives? When a life-altering event upends their world, who will seize the second chance they’ve been given? Does doing the wrong thing matter, if it’s for the right reasons?
For one sister, a split-second decision will test her to the limits. To claim her future, she will need to have the courage to let go of the past and discover a life worth living of her own.
Louise Guy first burst my reading bubble in mid 2017 when I read her first contemporary adult fiction novel, Everyday Lies. I have since read and highly rated her second novel, Fortunate Friends. A Life Worth Living is Guy’s third and latest novel. It is an intense and absolutely captivating novel that follows the lives of identical twins pitted against the odds when a terrible accident occurs. A Life Worth Living is about honour, unconditional love, sacrifice, secrets, lies and hope.
A Life Worth Living looks at the very contrasted lives of identical twins, Leah and Eve. Although they may look the same, Leah and Eve have very different personality traits and they lead polarising lives. Leah, a journalist, has been in a comfortable long-term relationship for years now. She hopes her boyfriend Grant will propose soon. Leah adores her cat Lewis and is the perfect Aunty to her twin nieces, Ava and Harry. All that is missing from Leah’s life now she is at the top of her career is marriage and a family of her own. Leah’s twin sister Eve has a marriage, house and two kids. She also enjoys the perks of her lucrative position in real estate. But lately Eve has been unhappy with her home life. Eve and her husband are estranged, they have been sleeping in separate rooms and recently Eve has formed a close relationship with one of her male clients. On the way to a party, Leah and Eve are involved in a life shattering accident. Spur of the moment decisions are made, which has a direct impact on the future of Eve and Leah’s loved ones. The bearing of this decision will weigh heavily on one sister, as the past, present and future all collides.
There are so many questions of morality and family obligations tied up to this latest novel from Louise Guy. It sure is a minefield of secrets, lies and moral dilemmas! I am not a twin and I also do not have a sister, so I found the situation posed in A Life Worth Living completely unknown territory! Despite this, I was able to put myself very easily in the shoes of the main protagonist of this novel. Louise Guy has carefully constructed a set of characters that anyone can relate to. She also sets up a scenario that we just can’t help but attempt to unpack.
I loved the modern Australian suburban setting of A Life Worth Living. Although I live on the other side of Australia, I could very easily see the Melbourne based locale of this novel easily transferred over to my own suburbs of WA. Guy has recreated a setting whereby we can see a ourselves and our homes mirrored in the location and experiences of the characters from A Life Worth Living. The strong setting presence helps to classify A Life Worth Living as a true ‘life lit’ novel.
Louise Guy is an author with many strengths, but I do feel the area in which she truly shines is in her characterisation. Guy devotes plenty of time in the early stages of her book in helping us to see the strengths and the flaws of her leads. I got a very good indication of which twin I was able to relate to over the other, thanks to the thorough exploration of the differences between the sisters. We come to understand their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Each was crafted to perfection thanks to the expertise of Louise Guy. Guy’s ability to portray her characters with such conviction also extends to her secondary cast. From the parents of the twins, to Eve’s children, husband, partners, lovers and friends, each is so clearly marked out. I found myself comparing these characters to people I know.
The situation faced by one of the sisters, her decision and the fallout from this choice forms the crux of A Life Worth Living. I won’t delve too much into the scenario itself as I would hate to spoil this aspect for potential readers. What I will say is that Louise Guy treats the situation with insight, sensitivity and authenticity. She draws out the emotions and typical responses to a situation of this nature. As a result, the storyline is both gut wrenching – but very realistic.
The twin dynamic is played out well in A Life Worth Living. The two main characters are twins. Eve also has twin daughters. I dare say Guy has worked hard to build in some extra knowledge about twins. She captures this family dynamic extremely well. I always crave more about sisterly relationships and Louise Guy filled this void perfectly with her new book. I’m just glad I will never have to face the situation the sisters face in this novel, gosh it was hard!
With such a complex moral dilemma at the heart of this novel, I wasn’t sure where Guy was going to take her book direction wise. Each turn of the page delivered a new surprise, or twist to the escalating situation. This aspect definitely kept the pages turning for me. I think readers will be more than satisfied with the final turn of events, I’m not entirely sure it could have gone in another direction.
Rich in feeling, contemplative, encompassing an array of complex emotions and family dynamics, A Life Worth Living is a book you should invest your time in reading.
A Life Worth Living by Louise Guy was published on October 16th 2018 by Go Direct Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Learn more about the author of A Life Worth Living, Louise Guy, here.
*With thanks to the author, Louise Guy, for providing me with a copy of this novel, in exchange for an honest review.
A Life Worth Living is book #16 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge