I normally don’t read such sappy love stories, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll concede. I originally saw the movie version of P.S. I Love You (starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank) back in 2008 and in a fit of romantic inspiration, I went out and bought the book. It’s not your run-of-the-mill lovefest, however. Cecelia Ahern makes sure of that (as does Nicholas Sparks and pretty much every romantic novelist of all time…)
Holly and Gerry are a happily married couple. They’ve been together since high school and their lives are completely intertwined. They have coupled-up friends and do coupled-up activities. The only thing that Holly lives for (she never was a career person) is to be Gerry’s wife. Then–of course–the unthinkable happens. (You didn’t imagine they’d live happily ever after did you? Pshht). When Gerry begins to suffer from ever-persistent migraines, he goes to the doctor and gets the absolute worst case scenario diagnosis. Brain cancer. Tumors. Malignant. Inoperable. Terminal. Only a few months left to live.
Obviously, the couple is devastated by the news and Holly stays with Gerry through every second of his remaining months. After his death, Holly struggles to find meaning in her life–a reason to live, if you will. That is, until two months later when her mom informs her she has a package.
It’s from Gerry.
The package contains a letter for every month of the year–each containing a new instruction for Holly to help her move on with her life and survive being alone. We follow Holly along through this year of love, loss, sadness, and growth. And I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
P.S. I Love You turned out to be, if not a love story, than maybe a personal growth story. It detailed all the mad adventures of Holly and her wacky friends and family as they struggled to not only deal with the loss of their friend, but also be a support system for a new/young widow. I liked it, because in the end, although Gerry’s death was a terrible tragedy, it also freed Holly to become her own person for the first time in her life. It took her until she was single and 30 to find herself, but find herself she did.
Ahern presented coping with a family member’s death and the grief process in a very realistic way. Some days Holly was a mess, laying around the house hardly sleeping or eating–certainly not showering for a week at a stretch. Then having a few good days intermingled in with the bad. Going from laughing to crying and then back again. Sloooooooowly being able to accept what has happened to you and your loved one, and learning to allow yourself to be happy without them. Being able to remember the fun times rather than the death. It’s a very messy process, for sure.
I’ll admit, I did get misty-eyed at a few passages, but overall it’s not nearly the tear-jerker it’s advertised to be. I think the movie adaptation was much more sad than the novel. Holly’s friends/family really helped keep the tone light for the most part. Although, damn…a headache is a bit more worrisome now than before…
This is definitely a good “chick lit” novel. It’s a fast read and you’ll be anxious to find out what Gerry’s next letter says. Those of you ladies whom enjoy reading about a woman experiencing a personal loss, triumphing over it as best she can, and learning that life goes on after love (cue Cher here)–this one’s for you.
4 of 5 stars