Comment: I've decided to buy this book for some reason, probably because I saw it mentioned somewhere or it was similar to some book I've read and the blurb seemed interesting...I don't remember anymore, only that I did buy the book in February and it has been in the pile but this month I picked it and I'm so glad I did that!
In this book we meet Savannah (Van) and learn how much in love she is with her best friend Peter. However, Peter is marrying her other best friend, Janie. Of course Van never really said out lout to Peter she loved him, she always waited for him to show he felt the same and even dated other men hiding from Peter just in case he figured out he had feelings for her too. But now that he's married, Van is feeling lonely and heartbroken because of all the years she spent loving him and he now marries someone else. While drunk, Van "accidently" purchases a puppy from abroad.
She starts thinking maybe this is what she needs to get her mind out of the heartbreak but the puppy doesn't look like a puppy... did Van made a mistake she now can't give back?
Perhaps I'm not presenting this in the best light, but the truth is, I loved this book. It's one of those that, for me, I could keep on reading with a never ending date. In fact, its biggest problem is how small it is.
This is a contemporary romance, told from Van's perspective, so we are always aware of her thoughts and how certain things affect her.
I think the time Van spent being in love with Peter feels too much and how could she wait for him to say something, to reveal something? We have some flashbacks, two or three in the whole book, about scenes from the past where we would see how Van felt and how she was affected and one in particular stayed with me, it was when Van met Peter's parents. I mean, that should have been a clue for her! But I guess love does make you blind. Van didn't stop seeing anything apart from Peter, she wasn't that focused on him, but she did engage all her feelings and expectations in him so anyone can understand how hard it must have been to fake smiles and happiness when he married her best friend.
I liked seeing into Van's life. She's not perfect, she has insecurities too but I liked her. I still think she waited too long, but who can really control their hearts, I've never been in love I can't say it's impossible to wait that long. The heart and the brain do impossible things even if we rationalize she wouldn't wait this long.
I liked when things changed in terms of plot. Van orders a puppy and she gets a surprise because he's not a small dog after all and while trying to figure out if he's really fine, she meets a vet and she feels attracted to him. Slowly they start talking, seeing each other. I really loved seeing Van starting to have feelings for Alex and what that would represent for her independence from Peter.
This being a romance, she kind of messed things up but we do have a HEA and I loved it.
My only real complain about this novel? It should have included an epilogue because I want to see how Van, Alex and Joe - the puppy - are and how their lives moved forward. Maybe one day...
As for now, I already feel like re-reading!
I liked to know Van, through her actions and thoughts we learn a lot about her life, her expectations, her heartbreak over Peter's marriage but mostly over her mother's death, something that really affected her.
The author did a great job portraying Van as someone down-to-earth but prone to as many doubts and wrong decisions and anybody else. It's very intriguing how little details about Van's life or situations in her past shaped her and her view of things.
I liked when she started to take care of Joe -who's such a cute funny dog, it does make one want to have a dog too!- and spending time with Alex and Louis...I liked how Van would learn something with very character, whether knowledge or how to behave (like when meeting Peter's parents). This story has some complexity which I really liked and that added another level to this story, it's not just a fluffy romance.
The author is new to me but I will try to get her other book. Her writing is interesting, easy to follow, simple but presenting complex ideas and character development. I think there's a lot of thought in this, a lot of balance in how things should work. I wish she could have showed a bit more of Alex and Van because they work so well as a couple and she really wrote Peter and Janie and the secondary characters to the exact point, meaning they don't feel like stereotypes but it's the kind of characters we can recognize too. I'm surprised as how important the details are in this novel, little scenes and comments here and there really gain importance to what is happening and to how the characters act. I think the author really did a great job with the character's personalities.
I loved the book because Van ultimately understands who she is and how she can be happy. Maybe one can think that it took her so long because she needed that time to meet the right person after all! I really, really wish we could an epilogue, but I sure try on my own to imagine how happy they must have been and how their lives could become richer and fuller. If imagining the future of their characters or day dreaming about them is one goal in writer's rules, then ms Larkin accomplished that with me.