Book reviews

The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis

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The Key to my Heart is what I would refer to as a ‘cry book’. There was something so wonderful about the characterisation, the settings and everything about the book that it really hit me where it matters most.

Can you ever really find the one after ‘the one’?

Some people spend their whole lives trying to find the one. But Natalie had found him – and married him. And then Russ died.

Two years ago, her whole world was shattered. Still now, she feels like she’s trying to piece her broken heart back together, one day at a time.

But then she finds a sheet of music – one that only Russ would know – in the piano stool in King’s Cross station where she’s secretly been playing for the last few months.

For the first time, Natalie realises that maybe life does still hold a little magic. And with every note she plays, she feels as if she’s unlocking another fragment of her heart…

But will she ever truly find love again after she’d already found forever?

We’re first introduced to Natalie and her friends Lucy, Roxanne and Priya as they’re sitting in a nightclub. Priya is very newly married and pregnant while Lucy and Roxanne seem to be determined to fix an uninterested Natalie up with someone in the bar, as well as pushing her to see someone she still has mixed feelings about – an ex-friend, Edie.

Natalie is good-natured but it’s easy to sense that she’s not happy about the proceedings, going along with their plans reluctantly. And this is how she meets Tom.

Able to escape from her friends’ not-so-subtle set-up, Natalie goes home to her quiet run-down countryside home and it’s there we finally get the truth, she’s mourning for her husband. Her friends can’t seem to understand that grief is a slow process for some. Russ, her husband, was young, taken suddenly and that isn’t something that you can just bounce back from. Her friends have good intentions, but right now they’re misguided, Natalie’s not ready.

I love the way that this story introduces us to all the characters who will slowly come to mean a lot. Natalie is struggling, but she is strong, a factor that some can see and others overlook. She has a supportive older sister, Jodie, a great secondary mother figure in Shauna and the man she met briefly in a bar ends up being a really good friend.

And then of course we have the mystery of who keeps on leaving music in the piano stool at the station where she goes to play? Songs that she used to play for her husband, songs that had meaning including a song that made me smile and suddenly go and search through my CD collection…Staring at the Sun by Rooster.

So, what makes this book so readable I picked it up at the start of a bank holiday weekend and finished it before I went to bed that night?

The story isn’t predictable. Are there moments when you just know something is going to happen that’s going to have you crying? Absolutely. Could I predict what was going to happen at the end? Not at all. There were a few points where I was sure I could call it, where I wanted something to occur, but it didn’t play out that way at all.

Every single character in this book – from the friends who thought they knew best, to the notebook guy, Joe, whom Natalie spotted several times in her regular cafe – had a role to play in her story. They were her friends, her support network, her cheerleaders and her confidantes.

It took me a long time to feel anything but frustration towards Roxanne and Lucy. They believed they had the best of intentions toward their friend, but it also felt as though they really didn’t understand where she was coming from. Both when it came to her feelings for her husband and not being ready to move on, and also for Edie – I kept on waiting for something awful to slip out of the woodwork where that relationship was concerned. 

I loved the moments where serendipity had a role to play – it feels as though it was a character in its own right and is a recurring theme in Louis’ books (if the last one I read is anything to go by). However, none of it is over-used or feels in any way contrived.

This book made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me glad that I picked up Eight Perfect Hours and read that so I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Lia Louis’ books tug at the heartstrings and make you feel a lot.


  • Likeable characters
  • Well-paced story
  • Natural and uncontrived relationship development


  • Friends that made me want to slap them
3-5 star rating
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