Tuesday 6 September 2022

It I Can't Have You by Charlotte Levin @tinycharlotte72 #IfICantHaveYou @MantleBooks @panmacmillan #BookReview


My name is Constance Little.

This is my love story.

But this isn’t the way it was supposed to end.

After fleeing Manchester for London, Constance attempts to put past tragedies behind her and make a fresh start. When she embarks on a relationship with the new doctor at the medical practice where she works, she’s convinced she’s finally found the love and security she craves.

Then he ends it.

But if life has taught her anything, it’s that if you love someone, you should never let them go.

That's why for Constance Little, her obsession is only just beginning . .

If I Can't Have You by Charlotte Levin was published in paperback in February 2021 by Mantle/Pan. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for so long, I finally picked it up and took it on holiday to Malta last month. I read it in just over one day and was totally engrossed from beginning to end. 

I loved the style of writing in this novel, the structure is so clever and enables the reader to get right into lead character Constance's head. It's written as though Constance is writing a letter to someone and whilst it may take a few pages to settle into, it really is a fabulous way to tell a story. I'd love to read more novels written in this way. 

The story is dark, there are themes that are emotionally challenging and quite uncomfortable, but it is written such sensitivity and empathy for the lead character that no matter how much you may disagree with her choices, you totally understand them. 

The opening pages are jaw dropping and just pull the reader straight in. A bride, on the Tube, with blood dripping from her face. Fellow passengers ignoring her plight. That scene stays in the mind of the reader all the way through the story and it is not until the very end of the novel that we realise just what it is about. I thought that beginning was clever and disturbing and certainly a reason to fly through the pages to find out what on earth it meant.

Constance is a GP receptionist, she's not the best receptionist in the world, but it's a job and she can tolerate her fellow workers despite them being boring and overbearing at times. When Samuel joins the surgery as the latest GP, Constance's world begins to look better. She's had lots of issues in her life and left her home city of Manchester to try to forget. London is a new start, and it's not long before she and Samuel become more than just work colleagues. 

Constance is obsessed with Samuel, she is in love. She believe that he is the ONE. However, for Samuel, this is just a fling. He has no feelings for her, other than as a convenient sexual partner. Constance cannot accept that and her behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre. 

Constance's only real friend is Dale, the guy who lives in the same flats as her. Dale appears to be supportive and loving to Constance, a true rock. However, here's another guy who is very flawed, and his obsession almost matches Constance's.

This is a clever and complex novel that deals with some deep issues that can be quite difficult to read about. Levin's ability to show Constance's thoughts is exquisitely done and I have no doubt that every reader will support Constance, despite some of the crazy decisions that she makes. 

Totally compelling, often a bit creepy, and with characters who are carefully and quite beautifully created. A dark story that will send shivers down the spine. I recommend this one. 

Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. 

IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU is her debut novel, and IF I LET YOU GO is out in March 2023. 

Charlotte lives in Manchester with her cat Opal Moon.

No comments:

Post a Comment