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If I Can't Have You Kindle Edition
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This is superb. The main character Constance is brilliantly flawed and so compassionately drawn - it’s raw and compulsive and disturbing and very well done indeed -- Harriet Tyce, author of Richard & Judy Book Club pick Blood Orange
An exceptionally raw and visceral and painfully funny novel. Charlotte Levin writes so well and so powerfully about loneliness, longing, love and loss that Constance will stay with me for a long time -- Emma Flint, Women's Prize longlisted author of Little Deaths
A blackly comic but heartfelt story of love and loneliness, with an endearing and damaged heroine ― Sunday Mirror
A darkly comic and beautifully written debut novel ― Woman
Blackly comic, heartrendingly sad . . . a brilliant debut novel ― Best
Compulsively readable and darkly funny with pin-sharp characterization. Love love loved it -- Laura Marshall, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Friend Request
Brilliant. A perfect and completely terrifying depiction of heartbreak and obsession -- Sarah Powell, presenter, founder of ‘Celebrate Yourself’ and Red Magazine columnist --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B087BHDMS3
- Publisher : Macmillan (14 July 2020)
- Language : English
- File size : 1258 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 297 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 27,522 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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This story is about Constance Little.
This is her love story.
Only...this isn't the way it was supposed to end.
Clad in a meringue of taffeta, tulle and blood, Constance steps onto the underground in somewhat of a daze. As the reader we are instantly drawn into her world and what happened to leave her sandwiched between a hipster and a mother with her child in a bridal gown on a train. The child was in awe of Constance's attire exclaiming "Look at the princess, mummy!" whilst pawing the rustling fabric as other passengers possibly declared her somewhat insane. In that moment, we feel her pain despite not yet knowing what it is. Has she been jilted? Or is she a runaway bride?
But the truth is much stranger than fiction; far darker and twisted than anyone could possibly imagine. Including Constance herself.
Working as a receptionist for a doctors surgery in affluent Kensington, Constance falls in love with Dr Samuel Stevens the moment she sets eyes on him. Brought in to fill the gap a deceased doctor has left behind, Samuel arrives with his smiles and self-importance. Despite this Constance sees only attraction and is immediately infatuated with him, finding any excuse she can to be alone with him. Soon her every thought is consumed with him particularly when her advances are reciprocated and Constance believes their stolen moments to be true love.
But when Samuel ends their brief affair in a cruel and insensitive manner, Constance is devastated that what she believed to be genuine was just a bit of fun for him. It is then that the emotional wounds of her past turn her infatuation into a dangerous obsession, as she goes all Glenn Close, stalking him and watching him in an attempt to feel closer to him. But how far will she go to win him back?
However Samuel's sense of entitlement, self-importance and arrogance as well as his inability to see the depth of his treatment of not only Constance, but women in general, speaks volumes as to the type of man he is. Why is it that these are the men who attract the most vulnerable kind of woman? They fall for his charm, his smile, the way he makes them laugh all without seeing that he is really laughing at them not with them. He comes from a world of entitlement and privilege and is used to getting what he wants and then justifying his disgraceful actions by accusing women of being sulky and clingy who dare to mistake sexual intimacy as a relationship when all he is really after is a good time.
But just as Samuel is a master manipulator, so is Constance. She wangles her way into the bereaved and lonely Edward's life purely for her own gain as well as clinging to her creepy flatmate Dale just so he wouldn't leave her...even though she never really wanted him in the first place. Alongside her flashbacks to her childhood memories, it brings to light just how lonely Constance is and how affected she is by the mistakes of the past and/or the sins of her father, or even mother, as the case may be. Granted, she is still grieving after the death of her mother, and grief can sometimes make people do the strangest things. In Constance's case, in her view everyone she loves leaves her...and that appears to be her greatest fear which she tries to control through various unsuccessful attempts.
This psychological thriller is a darkly twisted tale of love and obsession written in the form of a detailed letter from Constance to Samuel, the object of her desire, and is a twisted blend of "Fatal Attraction" and "Gone Girl". I couldn't help but feel sorry for Constance even if she was a tad psycho. It was Samuel and Dale that I loathed the most...and I had to question who was the most twisted one of them all?
On the one hand, you sympathise with Constance while on the other you dislike her intensely. She does come across as needy and clingy but then again, you have the inside scoop as to why she acts the way she does, so does that make it excusable or just understandable? Half the time I couldn't decide whether I liked or hated her but somehow I still found myself rooting for her. I guess I wanted to see Samuel get his comeuppance, because really the man was deplorable. And Dale? He was just uber creepy. I did not like him from the start. How Constance couldn't see through him is beyond me. His pointed comment about those who are so obsessed with who they are watching often are oblivious as to who may be watching them (or words to that effect)...was just super creepy.
My favourite character would have to be the irascible Edward. And his inscription in the copy of "Wuthering Heights" he gave to Constance for her birthday brought tears to my eyes...
IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU is sinister, creepy and, in some ways, addictive. Its tense and compulsive narration gives the reader a sense of claustrophobia. The characters are impulsive, vulnerable and mostly unlikeable. While the plot itself is quite cleverly written as one long detailed letter that provides a slow burn build of tension culminating to an ugly end, it did drag a little in places but the concept itself was genius.
In some ways IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU was too literary for me as I prefer my thrillers to be rollercoaster rides of explosive twists and excitement. I guess a lot of this book missed the mark with me as I felt it was meant to be more of an exploration of sorts...into what, I'm not sure. But I can still appreciate part of the idea if not the entire concept.
Different but relatively enjoyable, IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU is the literary cross of "Fatal Attraction" and "Gone Girl" that is truly imaginative and compelling. Recommended though it may not be for all.
Constance is a receptionist in a doctors surgery in London who falls in love with Samuel , the new doctor. He seems to feel the same way, but he uses her for his own purposes and then dumps her. What happens next is this story. She is a vulnerable woman and his betrayal hurts her, but she does not give up easily.
It is a dark character driven story, told from Constance's point of view. We see the world as she sees it. It is uncomfortable to read in parts, but that is the charm of it. It is raw and real. There are some wonderful supporting characters that you will fall in love with - clearly not Samuel!
Top reviews from other countries
The lead character carries you along with her reckless decisions and wry observations of others (and herself) so you feel you know her. It can make for uncomfortable reading but also sometimes humorous and very human.
As a Northerner who also moved south, aspects resonated-the alienation and self consciousness. It's very refreshing to read something far removed from the whimsical strolls through wealthy, middle class London.
I liked that I was kept guessing right until the end and couldn't put it down. It's not for the faint hearted but I defy anyone who has had their heart broken not to sympathise.
Reviews aren't something which I normally do, but I felt that this book deserved my efforts.
From the opening few pages, this story had me completely gripped. I won't give anything away plot-wise, other reviewers have already provided enough detail.
Constance, the main protagonist is a troubled individual - but I found myself rooting for her throughout the story.
Her pretty bleak life (past and present) is described in achingly raw detail, but also with a hint of dark mirth.
None of the surrounding characters are particularly likeable (oh, all except Edward), and the way in which Constance describes these individuals is done with a humorous disdain, which I found myself grinning knowingly along to.
The conclusion to the story has a sad inevitability to it, but there were a few moments near the end when I genuinely found myself holding my breath.
I was unable to put this book down during my holiday, and once I had finished it I couldn't start my other holiday reads due to this one still playing on my mind.
Charlotte Levin's writing style is fresh and one which I really enjoyed, and I am looking forward to the inevitable next one.
Charlotte Levin writes in the form of a narrative by Constance who attends ad hoc psychology sessions with Dr Franco at the practice. At his suggestion, she explains her compulsive attachment and its consequences by writing a letter to Samuel; reliving the pain and chaotic events which include her equally infatuated but unsavoury flat mate Dale who she reluctantly allows into her crumbling life, creating an exquisitely destructive love triangle. We see an unlikely friendship develop with Edward, an eccentric elderly gentleman who is searching for a different kind of love to replace his own loss in life. Constance is like a magnet for broken souls.
Charlotte effortlessly draws us into Constance Little’s world from the first page. Her prose is so evocative that it is easy to envisage the medical practice with its irritating admin colleagues, her dismal bedsit, Samuel’s plush but faceless apartment and Edwards eclectic, grimy but convivial home. It’s all there in our heads, we smell the rain as she gets drenched on the streets of west London, feel the crunch of the icy snow as she steps out of work and we inhale her cigarette smoke as she walks away. But we walk alongside her and want to help but feel powerless and as we witness the complexities of her mind unfold.
Despite the turmoil that Constance goes through, Charlotte provides light and shade with dry observational humour which presents Constance as more intelligent and self-aware than those who surround her and her many moments of clarity are palpable which makes her lack of control all the more tragic.
My hand instinctively held the next page, not wanting to miss a beat. Just like when I eat an Oreo and my hand is already delving into the packet for the next one, so we all have our obsessions. This is what is so clever about this novel, it invites you to look at yourself and question what you would do in the same circumstances given Constance’s history. I would hope most of us wouldn’t go as far as she does but would we think about it anyway? Would we dare to dream? Are we all capable of creating such disarray, failing to recognise that we need support before we destroy relationships, friendships, ourselves?
It is a constant push pull and don’t expect a comfortable read about counting calories and making blue soup because you won’t find that here. It’s very gritty and graphic at times, just like real life. This novel would be perfect for a screen adaptation and the soundtrack would be superb as Charlotte threads a classy selection of song titles throughout the book.
This story stays with you and if you pick it up another time, I have no doubt you will find something different to contemplate by the end. I look forward to that.
Our heroine, Constance, works as a receptionist at a private medical practice and falls for the new doctor, unfortunately she falls in love but he doesn’t, he’s just using her. The story unfolds in an inevitable but unflinching way, we are drawn in and rooting for Constance but also thinking “no, please don’t do that, please don’t do that”, but she always does. Constance does what we just think about doing, she goes too far and driven right to the edge but still remains our heroine and is completely believable.
There are other layers of obsessive love in the story but I don’t want to ruin the story for you. Just to say obsession takes many forms and all are just as uncomfortable as each other.
The characters are well drawn and developed and despite being a dark story there are real comedic moments. I didn’t want this book to end and urge you to just read it. It’s brilliant.
It's a story about loss, traumas, being left out, feeling out of control, not being loved back, things we can all relate too and I think this makes the characters easy to empathise with, both sides of the story. The book has some interesting symbolistic, though I honestly think that it's somewhat lost in today's age - I can't imagine people debating what different details meant in the overall story. However, since I noticed them, they can't be in vain.
I really liked the writing style too - as I said, I don't think it's a thriller and it didn't have a very fast pace, but it kept me glued to the book that I had to finish it as fast as I could to know what would happen next. It went nice and steady until the end.