Book Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Title: The Life Intended
Author: Kristin Harmel
Published: 12 March 2015
Publisher: Quercus

Twitter: @kristinharmel


After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Westhoven never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her pre-wedding jitters on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something about his death and is there a chance his nighttime visits could be more than just wishful thinking?

Kate Westhoven’s first husband, Patrick, passed away 12 years ago and she has grieved for him since that time. On the surface, she now has a good life. She is newly engaged to a loving partner, has a good career and a nice home. Things should be perfect. However Kate has a feeling that she doesn’t quite fit into her current life.

Kate begins to have vivid dreams about her first husband and through those dreams she experiences the life that she was intended to live if Patrick had lived. They would have started a family and grown old together, experiencing all the ups and downs that life would have thrown at them. When he suddenly died, she lost the life that she was supposed to lead. The dreams leave her very unsettled and the realisation that she would rather remain in that dream world leaves her questioning her current life. Is what she has with her new fiancé enough or should she be looking for more. Are the dreams just dreams or is Patrick trying to guide her to the life that she was intended to lead?

This is a truly captivating novel from the very first page. I read it in about 3 sittings as I simply could not put it down.

The characterisation is realistic and very well-done. Kate is a very loving and caring character, left slightly bewildered after the loss of her much-loved first husband. She is drifting through this new phase in her life without giving much through to the direction it is heading in. Throughout the story we see her coming to terms with her past and finally taking a hold of her life, ensuring that it is heading in the right direction for her.  Kate is a very honest and believable character and I felt a lot of empathy for her situation. The supporting characters are all believable and sympathetic characters and I felt as though I understood all of the characters’ motivations despite not learning much about them as individuals.

The plot is carefully written and sensitively deals with love, loss, grief, friendship, abandonment, disability and fostering. I believe that Harmel must have carried out a lot of research into music therapy, particularly with the deaf, in order to create such a believeable story. The story shows us that everything that happens to us throughout our lives, however big or small, changes us and can alter the direction of our lives, even if in the smallest way. It also teaches us that there is not just one route for happiness.

I absolutely loved this book. It was a real tearjerker which is not usually my thing, however it is a truly wonderful story. I found myself absolutely engrossed in the story and I simply could not put it down.

In fact, I am pleased to say that I’m listing The Life Unintended as my first 5* review.

Rating: 5 out of 5

About the Author

Kristin Harmel is the author of three previous novels published by Headline. She is an experienced journalist and a TV presenter for the national US show The Daily Buzz. She divides her time between Paris, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando.

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