Howells, Debbie. The Life You Left Behind. Boldwood Books, 2022. ISBN 978-1804150344 360 pp. $16.99
Ben is gone. He’s been gone for awhile. Casey Cassidy, Ben’s wife, knows where he is and what happened to him, but it remains a mystery as to whether he’s ghosted, missing, in a coma, or dead–until nearly halfway through the novel.
Chapters alternate between Casey’s present and past. She is grieving this loss, alone, renting an isolated cottage in France on a tip from her dear friend Kevin and at her best friend Ell’s urging. Casey discovers a diary of an affair with an unhappily married, depressed woman, left behind by a previous tenant. She makes friends with the proprietor of a local watering hole and finds a tutoring gig. Her past reflections relive meeting Ben randomly at the airport, their whirlwind romance, his passion for climate change and his growing depression that even her love cannot pull him out of.
The angst in this book is thick and palpable as the lump that will be in reader’s throats, and the writing beautiful, poignant and raw. Howell shares deep, universal truths through Casey’s healing. Readers who enjoy a little bit of mystery and a slow story may find their own catharsis in Casey’s pain and recovery.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #TheLifeYouLeftBehind via #NetGalley.