Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Book Review: The Key to My Heart, by Lia Louis

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Today is one of those classic, airless summer days that turn London into a raging furnace and morph every resident into a grumpy expert on historical architecture. These buildings were just not built for these temperatures. No tiles, no air-con! British houses keep heat in, they don’t let it out! The rehearsal rooms at music therapy as expected were unbearable this morning, and I lasted all of seven minutes in The Smelly Room, which smelled like passing a landfill on a motorway. Joe had arrived in the final minute, poking his head around the door. “Sort of ironic that this is therapy,” he said, “today it’s more like a Bear Grylls challenge.”

After the session, we decided that instead of grabbing coffee, we needed something cold, so we ordered iced teas to take away from an empty, just-opened juice bar. A lone photographer from a local paper stood snapping the balloon-arched entranceway on the street, and to mark the opening day, a woman behind the counter had flirtily leaned and slid novelty straw spectacles onto Joe’s expressionless face.

Natalie isn’t sure if her grieving will ever end, but she can’t even remember how her life would be different without it. 

Official synopsis:

Book Review: The Key to My Heart, by Lia Louis
Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.

Natalie isn’t really worried about her life since her husband Russ died. She just goes on existing. She has the folks she visits at the coffee shop, and she finds some solace in playing the piano at the train station. Everyone else seems to want her to have more, but it’s not their life, is it?

Eventually the time comes where she finds herself somehow moving on. A practically required night out with her friends introduces her to Tom, who keeps turning up even though she had never noticed him before, and then a recommended music therapy group has her spending time with Joe, who she does recognize as being around before, but always as part of the background in her predictable life.

This charming and unique story earned 4 out of 5 stars. As a young widow, Natalie wasn’t the usual young-ish woman searching for love at the bars with her friends. Her friends were having babies and living their full, developing adult lives, and she wasn’t sure where that left her. She didn’t want a new love, she wanted what she already had with her husband, but she now had to move on without him. Her reluctance to accept the life she truly had to deal with now was just part of her appeal. The details of the ending were somewhat unexpected in a pleasant way.  This is a great and heartwarming book with likable characters who each had their own flaws. The story could be enthusiastically enjoyed by those who enjoy family dramas, starting over, and interesting ideas of where love may be found.

{click here to purchase on Amazon - only $5.99 on audiobook as of this writing}

Becki Bayley is a wife, mom, and reader who tries to find a little more spare time to indulge her kids’ love of theater, robotics, and D&D. Check out some of their adventures on her blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.


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