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Review: The Life You’ve Imagined

September 21, 2010

After the death of a close friend, Anna takes a leave of absence from her high powered job in Chicago and returns to the small town she grew up in to refresh herself.  When she gets there, she discovers that her best friend from high school, Cami, is home with some problems of her own.  She also finds that her mother has some issues to deal with.  Then there’s Amy, who Anna was friendly with in the past – she’s trying to pull off her dream wedding.  None of the women are living the life they imagined, and they find themselves wondering if the life they have is enough.

The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle is told through the alternating viewpoints of the four main female characters – Anna, Cami, Amy and Maeve (Anna’s mother).   At first, I had a little bit of trouble keeping track of the different characters, but it didn’t take me long to figure it all out and get absorbed in the story.   I thought each character was great in her own way.

  • Anna is a warrior who’d overcome the absence of her father and become a lawyer in a high powered firm.  After the death of a close friend, though, she wonders if the job was really bringing her fulfillment.
  • Cami is Anna’s best friend from high school.  A problem in her life causes her to return home to live with her belligerent and abusive father.  She discovers a secret that could change her future.
  • Maeve is Anna’s mother.  Fiercely loyal, she can’t let go of the dream that the husband who abandoned her years ago will return to sweep her off her feet.
  • Amy is a friend of  Anna’s who’s getting ready to marry into one of the most powerful families in town.  She’s overcome a problem from her past, but the shadow of it looms over everything she does.

I liked each of the characters and could relate to them for different reasons.  I did find them (especially Amy) frustrating at times, but I think that’s because they all felt so real to me.  I loved the way the characters were able to pick up their friendships where they left off several years before and were so willing to help each other out – for me, that’s what great women’s friendships are all about.  I liked The Life You’ve Imagined a lot and think anyone who enjoys women’s literature will too.

Challenges: The Debutant Ball Reading Challenge

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
29 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 5:22 am

    I love women’s literature. I have been wanting to read this book since I saw it on the Debutant’s blog. Glad to know it’s good.

  2. diane permalink
    September 21, 2010 6:58 am

    This sounds like a great book Kathy – great review.

  3. September 21, 2010 7:13 am

    I’m glad you liked it even if you did find them frustrating!

  4. September 21, 2010 7:45 am

    I think it is totally realistic to imagine being turned upside down with the unexpected death of a close friend. It makes you reevaluate everything. 9/11 made me do that with my job and my family, and I ended up quitting my job. There are so many books out there that explore all this internal stuff, and I do get tired of them, but if they are well-done, it really hits home.

  5. September 21, 2010 7:49 am

    I liked this novel as well. I think it’s a perfect book club selection. Nice review.

  6. September 21, 2010 8:31 am

    I don’t read a lot of women’s literature, but this sounds like something that I would like. I usually like alternating points of view.

  7. September 21, 2010 8:32 am

    I enjoyed this one as well. I thought the characters were very real — flaws and all. I really like Ms. Riggle’s books.

  8. September 21, 2010 8:56 am

    I really like women’s fiction that is told from several alternating points of view, so this one sounds really interesting to me. Lately I have been reading a lot of these types of books. Glad to hear that you liked it. Great review!

  9. September 21, 2010 9:34 am

    I just picked up a copy of Real Life & Liars from my local used bookstore, and am excited to read that one as well as this one! Thanks for the review.

  10. September 21, 2010 9:39 am

    Sounds like a good book, and I like that the reason you got frustrated with them sometimes was that they just were so real. I do like a book that can capture that

  11. September 21, 2010 9:55 am

    I’ve come to think too that if a character is irritating, it means the author is doing a good job or portraying him or her. Still, it’s hard to like “spending time” with such a character!

  12. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 21, 2010 10:29 am

    I like books about friendships. I have another one from this author on my wish list and I’ll have to note this one too!

  13. September 21, 2010 11:19 am

    I read this last week and also enjoyed it. Great review.

  14. September 21, 2010 12:02 pm

    Glad you enjoyed this one!

  15. September 21, 2010 12:57 pm

    I love it when an author keeps the characters real. Sounds like this one is worth checking out.

  16. September 21, 2010 3:16 pm

    I really want to read this…I do so love your reviews…they are short and sweet and make me instantly know if I want to read the book or not…did you ever finish Stiltsville? You must not have liked it…

  17. September 21, 2010 3:26 pm

    This is the type of book I would usually save for an airplane, some time when I want some escapism. But I wonder if it would be escapist enough, especially this year as I reevaluate what kind of life I’m imagining for the next few years…

  18. September 21, 2010 5:17 pm

    Terrific review, Kathy! It sounds like a book I’d also enjoy! 🙂

  19. September 21, 2010 5:30 pm

    A little frustration is nice. Like you said, it shows that you were invested. I have started in on this one, and so far I am enjoying getting to know all the characters.

  20. September 21, 2010 6:31 pm

    This has been on my list. I’m glad it’s so good.

  21. September 21, 2010 7:42 pm

    I’m really excited about this author because she’s from Michigan!!! I will finally get an opportunity to meet her in November..can not wait! I liked this one too Kathy. 😀

  22. September 21, 2010 8:51 pm

    This sounds like a great book, and you did a great review on it!

  23. September 21, 2010 11:45 pm

    hi, visited during BBAW, dropping by to say I’ve included you in a shoutout of creatively named blogs

  24. givingreadingachance permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:11 am

    I am sure I would like this one too! I like this kind of books, awesome review.

  25. September 22, 2010 11:42 am

    This one looks very good. I love books that celebrate women’s friendships. They are often unique.

  26. September 22, 2010 1:17 pm

    I don’t read a lot of women’s fiction. The story sounds wonderful, and I really don’t know why I tend to avoid female friendship novels. Maybe I should give this one a shot.

  27. September 22, 2010 7:11 pm

    I think I would really enjoy this one. I will have to add it to my wishlist. If I’m able to keep track of who’s who, I’ll be happy. I hate when I have a hard time distinguishing the characters.

  28. September 22, 2010 9:23 pm

    I heard of this one a few days back, and thought it sounded really good. Don’t we all wonder whether we are living the life we wanted?

  29. September 23, 2010 7:47 pm

    Sounds like a decent read. Lord knows my life isn’t quite what I’ve imagined!

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