I was so excited when an early copy of This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh dropped through my letterbox. Last year, I really loved A Life Without You (read my review here) – in fact, it still brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it (now that’s the sign of a special book!). I really didn’t think I’d be saying this, but This Beautiful Life is even better – and it’s such a pleasure to be part of the blog tour and sharing my review. Published by Hodder & Stoughton, it’s now out in paperback and for kindle – and would you believe the kindle version was only 99p when I last looked?
What happens when you get the second chance you never expected?
Abi is living her happy ending. She’s in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance at life. But during Abi’s illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.
Set to the songs on Abi’s survival playlist, this is the story of what happens next as Abi tries to rebuild her family. Can she bring the people she loves most in the world back together again… before it’s too late?
This Beautiful Life is a deeply moving and poignant novel which reminds us why life, and love, are worth fighting for.
I’m not always a fan of those tag-lines publishers add to book titles, but when Hodder decided to call this one “the uplifting page-turner of the summer” I think they got it absolutely right. This is a book that opens where most books end – with the reprieve, the promise of a happy ever after – then looks at what comes next. Battling Abi’s illness has taken a heavy toll on everyone involved, and their fight is really only just beginning.
The characters in this gorgeous book are beautifully drawn – I just loved Abi, cocooned in her grey cardigan, then emerging to take the brave path into an uncertain future. Her relationship with husband John has an emotional authenticity that makes you ache inside – and the struggles of her lovely son Seb (one of those rare teens that I really enjoyed), with his passion for football and doubts about where his life is heading, were just perfectly handled. The wider relationships were just wonderful too – Abi’s mother with her spotless kitchen and everything in its place, her quiet and gentle father, her brother and their verbal sparring – with emotions and the way love can hurt always just below the surface of every day-to-day interaction. Heavens, I even (with reservations, at times) liked Steve – the man from Abi’s past with that shared musical history that’s such an important part of the story.
The construction of the novel is simply perfect with each section introduced by the letters to loved ones and appropriate (and sometimes slightly less than appropriate) choices of music, all in Abi’s clear and brave voice. Katie Marsh has a gift for dealing with emotion in her writing that I’ve rarely experienced elsewhere – there are parts of this book that are wonderfully joyous and funny, but then she’ll surprise you with a scene or passage that just stuns you with its impact, as you find yourself stifling a sob. My tears started to flow freely at a beautiful family encounter in the garden, under the Japanese maple – but your emotional trigger might just be elsewhere. And the book’s ending? It really was absolutely everything I wanted it to be. But then so was the whole book – without a moment’s hesitation, one of my books of the year.
My thanks to Emma Knight at Hodder & Stoughton for my advance reading copy, for inviting me to be part of the tour, and for the lovely evening to celebrate the book’s publication. Do follow the other stops on the tour – and you’ll find the book’s Spotify playlist here.
About the author
Katie lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything was picked by the Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015, and her second A Life Without You was a huge e-book bestseller. Her third novel This Beautiful Life is out now in e-book, audio, and paperback.
She loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband’s toast. When not writing, she spends her time in local parks pretending she’s as fast as her daughter’s scooter.