A Borrowed Life Kelly Anne King eARC

(ad, gifted) A Borrowed Life – Kelly Anne King eARC: Review & Recommend | LATEST RELEASES

Thanks to the publishers, and NetGalley, for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Title: A Borrowed Life
Author: Kelly Anne King
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: 22nd September 2020
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

If you know anything about my reading habits, you know I’m not a fan of romance, so you’re probably wondering what led me to pick this book! I will admit I didn’t realise A Borrowed Life was a romance when I picked it up: NetGalley has it listed as General Fiction/Women’s Fiction, and the synopsis mentioned a romance, but only briefly. I had also already kind of fallen in love with the cover, and I had it downloaded, so I decided to give it a go.

This is a pretty uplifting story of a woman oppressed by her religious husband coming into her own and rediscovering her freedom and joy for life. When her husband dies unexpectedly, Elizabeth realises this is her chance to do things for herself, and starts to follow her passions. The general message of this book is empowering, especially for women who might feel a bit stuck in a rut, having let hobbies fall by the wayside. As a 21 year old agnostic university student, I’m not sure I’m quite the target audience for this book, but I still had sympathy for Liz. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who feels a bit trapped by their lives; perhaps your job has taken over your life, or perhaps you’ve been neglecting yourself in favour of looking after your family. Doing the things you love and want to do are still important, no matter what stage of life you’re at, and maybe this will inspire you to cut out some negativity in your life (you don’t need to waste time on the nosey neighbour!), and pursue the things that you want to do.

An interesting aspect of this book was the way the memory of Thomas almost haunted Liz: she imagines his reactions to her new life, and she speaks back to him. As an exploration of grief, it was interesting, but underdeveloped. It was also the only real exploration of grief this book really has, which I found a bit unrealistic as it opens with Thomas’ death. While Liz was not happy in her marriage I found it surprising that she didn’t mourn him more, and I would have liked to see more of her wrestling with grief, whilst being conflicted by her feelings of relief at her freedom. I think this would’ve helped Liz’s character development as well, if there was more of a chance to see her inner conflict.

The other thing I found enjoyable about this book was the writing style. It’s very simple, very quick to read, and honestly, I’m not sure I’d have bothered to finish this book if it wasn’t such a quick read. General message aside, the plot was predictable, and not at all gripping to me. Now, I’m hardly one to complain about a book with no plot — a lot of the books I read are character driven — but I felt the characters were also lacking. Every “twist” in this book I saw coming, and it seemed very formulaic. Husband dies, widow has epiphany about her life, cue the friend to step in and show her the light, oh look! A romantic interest! And a good dollop of angst! Formulaic story lines and abundance of overused tropes are some of the main reasons I usually steer clear of romance.

A Borrowed Life review

As I said, I felt the characters were severely lacking. Now, this book is set in America, and I’m from England so granted, the religious aspect of it may feel more realistic to Americans, but to me it just seemed… ridiculous. Compared to my experience of knowing people in the Christian community in England, these characters were just caricatures of all the negative stereotypes around religion. At every turn, they used their faith as an excuse to control, manipulate, gaslight, and poke their bloody noses in. And that was all there was to those characters as well. No three dimensions here!

The other set of characters, Liz’s theatre friends, were more bearable, but were basically just there to be the polar opposites of the church group. Bubbly, open-minded, friendly, charismatic… Apparently there’s only two personality types in this book’s world! The only characters that did have some level of nuance were Abigail, Liz’s daughter, who struggles to come to terms with her mother’s new life, trying to retain everything her father imposed on her, and the romantic interest, Lance. Lance’s hot-and-cold attitude was grating, though he was one of the few characters who actually showed some development. As characters, both Abigail and Lance were pretty unbearable, but as you learn more about them you do understand a bit more of why they behave the way they do, and they are both able to learn and grow, which is what sets them aside from every other character aside from Liz.

All in all, this definitely wasn’t my favourite read of 2020, and I think I’ll be steering clear from romances in future!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A Borrowed Life is published on September 22nd.

This review also published on NetGalley and GoodReads.

4 thoughts on “(ad, gifted) A Borrowed Life – Kelly Anne King eARC: Review & Recommend | LATEST RELEASES

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