STARRED REVIEW
December 2022

The Key to My Heart

By Lia Louis
The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis is a poignant romance with astute observations about life after the loss.
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A sweet and touching portrayal of friendship, heartbreak and healing, The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis is a poignant romance with astute observations about life after loss.

It’s been two years since her husband, Russ, died, and 32-year-old Natalie Fincher is still grieving. She’s lost her passion for the dreamy cottage she lives in, and she’s lost the chance to be part of the musical she wrote. She finds comfort talking to her friend Shauna, a motherly figure who owns a coffee shop at London’s St. Pancras railway station where Natalie has been playing the public piano. Although she is not interested in dating, Natalie placates her best friends, who are desperate to reignite her love life, by approaching handsome, good-natured Tom during a night out and asking him to pretend they’re starting a fling. Tom quickly becomes a friend, and when someone starts leaving Natalie sheet music in the piano bench, he attempts to help her find her anonymous music angel. 

Louis (Eight Perfect Hours) portrays life transitions with tender credibility. She immerses readers in Natalie’s past with well-placed memories of her life with Russ, which are triggered in the present by constant bittersweet reminders, such as their cottage that she still lives in. Natalie is a likable protagonist, trying to balance her grief and self-doubt with the expectations of her friends and family. Some of the repartee between Natalie and her best friends, especially about her sex life, can feel overly sophomorish and superficial, especially given the depth of Natalie’s first-person narration. But it also highlights her friends’ uncertainty and discomfort with addressing Natalie’s loss—and their own eventual growth. 

The Key to My Heart is an enticing and moving portrayal of the heart’s power to heal after the loss of a loved one. 

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