4* Review: Sinister, captivating, with a wicked ending, this book is darkly funny. If I Can't Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.
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 . . .
I started and finished If I Can't Have You in a day; I was absorbed and addicted from the first page to the very last.
Author Charlotte Levin presents us with a sinister tale of obsession, a slow unravelling of sanity, a story of love, lust, and hate. It takes the form of a letter, written by our protagonist, Constance, in which she tells her story of how she met, fell in love, and lost her soul mate, the Healthcliffe to her Catherine.
"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
It's easy to lay blame at Constance's door, as she is partially at fault. But then so is every other character in this book. Parents that have devastated their children. Philandering men, that lead women on. Obsessive women, that assume more than there is. Boys who think friendly interest is an invitation for sex. Girls who treat them like boyfriends, though they remain firmly in the friend zone.
It seems everyone in this novel has their flaws, and weave through the pages with careless abandon, unknowingly causing hurt and destruction to all those around them.
Constance is complicated, deeply bruised, and reading her tale is equally heart breaking as it is captivating, a plane crash in novel form, with few survivors. I feel a deep empathy for the vulnerable Constance, and an anger for those that have harmed her, both in her childhood and in her present form. But there were still parts where I physically withered, longing to reach into the pages and shake Constance by the shoulders, perhaps even administer a sharp slap of sense to her cheek.
But by the end, and despite what happens, she retains a soft spot in my heart, and I don't blame her entirely for her actions (even if some (many) of them are bat shit crazy.)
Author Levin is a talented writer with a keen insight into human nature, and the fine line that is love and hate, our salvation and our destruction. Sinister, captivating, with a wicked ending, this book is darkly funny. Highly recommended!
You can get your copy from Amazon.
About the Author
Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. Charlotte lives in Manchester and If I Can't Have You is her first novel.