With a little more depth than your regular chicklits, With or Without You by Carole Matthews has a different flavour. I have no shame or embarrassment in saying I read Chick-lit- and a lot of it.
What’s the key plot?
Well, it’s a 30 something woman in a stable relationship trying really, really hard to have a baby. The suddenly, the boyfriend decides that he’s going to leave our baby-obsessed heroine for a younger, hotter thing at work. Our heroine, Lyssa, works as an editor for baby magazine in London and the boyfriend (ex) is in advertising.
In a misdirected attempt to make herself irresistible to an ex-lover, with a broken heart and determination to prove something (mostly to herself), she packs a rucksack and goes to the Himalayas for the easiest trek she could find. That’s where we get the front row seat to her journey of self-discovery and emotional awakening. It helps that their is a very handsome American guide- who she really falls in love with and vice versa.
When Lyssa finally returns home, she must face all the turmoil that she left behind, but with renewed energy and purpose.
What I Liked?
Most stories seem to follow the heroine and her perspective on things. I’m glad Matthews didn’t do that. She included perspective from Jake (the ex boyfriend) and Edie (Heroine’s very fertile little sister with 6 kids and 7th accidentally on the way) sides. They gave the story a 360 character story.
I found her experience over the course of the book to be quite refreshing, while being brutally honest at other times. The characters were flawed- every single one of them. And though such books would you want to hate the ex, Jake, you won’t because you know his side of the story. Albeit, it’s a little douche-y but it still made me feel bad for the guy.
Edie’s narration as very interesting and humorous, and probably made for my favourite parts.
What I wished they did more of-
So there was Pip, Jake’s best friend, who was very frequent. I was somewhere, rooting for him. He had been in love with Lyssa, for a while, and was probably the only sound character in the book with a little wisdom. I would have loved for Lyssa to actually go to Pip. That would have been nice, but also would have made Pip a not-nice friend, but they didn’t, so he isn’t. Even till the end, when he was trying to hint Lyssa about his feelings for her, he was rooting for her get back together with Jake. That’s the nicest guy right there.
I also think, there should have been a chapter about the hot American guide- Dean. I would have loved to know what went in that head of his- and I wish he had a larger character description.
That said, it was interesting till the very end. It was a very real interpretation of life and it’s problems and how people react, and realisations, breeding families and a slightly flawed, yet witty heroine.