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The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh
Contemporary fiction

The Love of My Life

by Rosie Walsh

Excellent choice

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Quick take

If the person you thought was the love of your life turned out to be a stranger to you, what would you do?

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unreliable

    Unreliable narrator

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MarriageIssues

    Marriage issues


Emma was quite certain she’d never fall in love again. But then she met an obituary writer, Leo, and within months, they were engaged. Seven years later came Ruby, their daughter, and then John Keats, their rescue dog. Now Emma, a marine biologist, has her perfect little ecosystem. They are happy, crammed into the tiny house her grandmother left her.

Leo was adopted as a baby, and this noisy, joyous little family is the first place he has ever felt he belongs. In fact, everything would be just perfect if Emma was who she said she was. If Emma was even her real name . . .

Because of Emma’s preeminence in her field, Leo is asked to write his own wife’s obituary while she is still alive. That’s when he finds that the woman he thinks he knows doesn’t really exist. As Leo starts to unravel the truth about the stranger in his bed, Emma’s old life breaks out of the carefully cultivated shell she created, threatening to wash away everything she has worked so hard to build.

When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was.

But first, she must tell him about the love of her other life.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicide.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Love of My Life.
The Love of My Life


We walked north, separated from the main sweep of the beach by kelp beds and rippling tidepools. The sea was a field of white crests and the few clouds in the sky moved fast, throwing spiral shadows across the sand.

It felt good for the two of us to be here, in this liminal place where the land shelved into the sea. This realm wasn’t ours. It belonged to the sea stars and limpets, the anemones and hermit crabs. Nobody noticed our togetherness; nobody cared.

It rained for a while and we sat in a shack hidden in the dunes, eating sandwiches. There were middens of dried sheep droppings in the corners and the rain drummed on the roof like gunfire. It was the perfect sanctuary. A place just for us.

We talked easily, as weather systems tore back and forth across the beach below. In my heart, hope grew.

We spotted the crab skeleton at the far end of the beach, soon after your picnic lunch. Medium-sized, dead, alone on the strandline amind deposits of driftwood and dried spiral wrack. There were razorshell fragments stuck to its abdomen, a bleached twist of trawler net hooked around a lifeless antenna, and peculiar, signal-red spots on its body and claws.

Tired now, I sat down to examine it properly. Four distinct spines crossed its carapace. Its claws were covered in bristles.

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Why I love it

When you pass, who would you want to tell the story of your life? Maybe a friend, or perhaps a sibling, maybe your spouse. But what if the life they knew was all an elaborate lie? What if they had no idea about the real you? You might be in a bit of a pickle then. They might get some ideas.

Leo is an obituary writer. He writes about the deceased, often unfortunate or ill-fated, but he has struck into some luck, having fallen into a whirlwind romance with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Emma. Or so he thinks. Until he is charged with writing her obituary—after all, she is a renowned biologist. Then the threads making up the woman he thinks he knows—and loved, loves?—begin to unravel. It becomes quickly apparent that perhaps Leo has married a stranger . . . and it is time to figure out what comes next.

Despite its explosive premise, The Love of My Life is a novel possessed of great tenderness and warmth. Pathos of the highest order. It captures ever so convincingly the lengths one might go to hide the traumas of the past and the wounds of the present. Looking directly at the ways we lie to ourselves and those we hold most dear, it nonetheless finds room for hope. Readers excited for a moving and beautifully crafted narrative should run to it! A new favorite read awaits.

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Member ratings (5,074)

  • Krista R.

    Clarkesville, GA

    I loved this book. I can’t even imagine going through Emma did and can’t say how I would handle things if I did. But I definitely don’t blame her for a thing! And I truly fell in love with Ruby ❤️

  • Vanessa A.

    Centreville, VA

    This was way more thrilling to me than any of Sager’s or Jewell’s books. It’s not a murder mystery or a who done it. But the way Walsh wrote, made you constantly wanting more & to find out the truth!!

  • Annie P.

    Louisville, KY

    A genre mashup! Literary mystery. It starts slow but once it picks up- I could not stop reading! I even looked down on page 168 and thought “oh I’m in it now”! Lots of drama, love, and tense moments.

  • Erin H.

    Ypsilanti, MI

    It takes a while to get into, definitely a slow burn. It takes about 100 pages to get invested but then I couldn’t put it down. You start to guess some of it but the big twist you don’t see coming.

  • Heather E.

    Albion , NY

    I couldn’t trust anything I thought I knew, when it all came out, I found myself both heartbroken for all involved, and uplifted by all of the love and possibility. So much to unpack here, great read!

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