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The Key to My Heart

A Novel


About The Book

A Goodreads Most Anticipated Romance

A heartwarming novel about hope after loss as a young widow receives mysterious messages of love from the “must-buy author” (Jodi Picoult) of Eight Perfect Hours.

Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.


Chapter One

chapter one
I know exactly who Lucy’s going to choose. I’ve known for the last half hour actually—could smell it a bloody mile away. Even before the third round of drinks had been brought wobblily back to the table, and even before Roxanne started waffling, as she always does around two cocktails and an appetizer in, about the different ways she’d assassinate her boss if it were only legal. Because my friends always choose me the same types. Dark haired, because all three of my exes were dark haired. Tall, because almost every crush I’ve ever had since the age of fourteen has been tall and with the height and shoulder combo that promises a decent house-fire rescue should you ever need it—Adam Driver, Vince Vaughn, that massive built-like-a-brick-shithouse bloke who dressed as Lurch at Roxanne’s Halloween party in 2007. “Not facially,” I remember slurring to his blank, prosthetic face, “but your frame, sir. C’est parfait. You’re sturdy. You know. Like a ship. Like a… a Megabus.” And very much alive. That’s the clincher actually. The man they choose must be alive, and with plans to be for many, many years to come (if possible).

“See that guy, Natalie,” Lucy shouts over the music, setting a round, sticky tray down onto the table. Four cocktails on its surface wobble like drunks. “The one with the arms at the bar. Messy hair, white T-shirt…”

“Yep,” I say, and I even throw a faux glance over my shoulder for effect. “Arms, hair, clothes, yep, I see him.”

“Name’s Tom. Single. And has been for eight months.”

Beside me, Roxanne makes a noise in her throat—a “Well, there we are then I suppose,” in a single “hm,” and over a pile of guacamole, Priya adds, “Oh, I would. Well, I would if, you know, I hadn’t just signed my life away to matrimonial monogs.”

“And pregnancy,” adds Roxanne.

“Oh shit, yeah, that too,” says Priya as Lucy slides into the booth beside her and beams over at me. “You should go over there, Natalie,” she says. “He was so chatty and lovely. Nice teeth too. I said I’d send you over!”

And it’s always around this time of the night that I have to squash down the urge to do what I really want to when I find myself on nights out like these with my friends—sprint. Bolt. Stick a rocket up my arse, propel upward, burst through the ceiling. Or at least, grab Lucy by the lapels, drag her across the table, and say, “When are you going to stop this? When are you going to stop looking at me with the eyes of a slimy car salesman who’s sure they’re finally about to flog that van with half a bumper and a dead body in the trunk, and let me fester? I’m not interested in dating. I will never be interested.” And the urge is even stronger tonight. I knew it would be, the second I woke up this morning thinking only about Russ. It was the sheet music from yesterday that did it—that singular, oddly glossy page of comforting symbols and notations, left anonymously, at the piano. For me. Or for someone else. Or of course, for absolutely nobody and for no reason at all. That’s why I haven’t mentioned it. It could be nothing—probably is nothing altogether. Plus, I’m sure if I did mention it, drop a casual “So, someone left me some music at the public piano I secretly play at, and I think it might be from my husband. Yes, that’s right! Russ! The dead one,” over cocktails and tortillas, Lucy would send up an instant smoke signal to alert my parents I was finally full-blown mad. Roxanne would probably start recommending that bereavement therapist again too—the one with the bongo drums.

“Did I tell you I had an orgasm?” asks Priya over the music. “In my sleep again.” Thank God (and Priya) for the clapper-board cut of a subject change. “It must be the hormones. I was dreaming about the scaffolder.”

“Again?” I laugh.

“Yup. The one next door. Clive. And I wouldn’t mind but he isn’t even hot. He has really spiteful features actually, poor soul. I mean, it can’t be helped, can it? The features you’re dealt. Anyway, in this dream, gosh, you should’ve seen him. He was so—”

“Natalie, are you going?” barges in Lucy.

“Am I…?”

Going. Are you going over there, to the bar?”

“To Tom,” adds Roxanne.

“Oh. Right. Um…”

They stare at me, my friends. Six eyes, round and hopeful. And I throw them a smile. A bone to three hungry dogs. A big, bright, wholly convincing, “what a great idea” smile. “Well, I suppose I could just go over and order another drink…”

Yes,” says Lucy.

“Say hi, suss him out…”


And in one go, I stand and down my cocktail, my friends looking up at me proudly, like I just got called up onstage to accept a Brit Award. International Breakthrough Act. Best British Single.

“Bloody hell, he’s looking over.” Priya giggles as I slide out of the booth, stumble a little. The downed margarita is already tasering my brain cells.

“Oh my god, look at him. He actually is,” cheeps Lucy, and I flash them yet another smile that drops off my face and hits the floor the second I turn my back to them.

I don’t want to go over there. I really don’t want to go over to that sticky, busy bar and talk to some tall bloke called bloody Tom who probably opens dating app comms at two a.m. with “hi babe, got any kinks lol.” I can think of nothing worse. Well, I can actually. Lots of things. Some I’m on first-name terms with these days. But the thing is, the alternative is worse—so much worse. Because if I don’t go over to this earmarked guy with the hair and the arms and the steady pulse, they’ll give me that look again. That look they give me sometimes, my friends, like I’m a new gazebo that just keeps slowly and sadly sagging at a garden party and leaking rain all over the cheese scones. That “Oh, Natalie. What are we going to do with you?” look. The one that is wordless but so obviously “We all loved Russ, we really did, but it’s been over two years. He’s gone. And we’re worried about you. We’re all very worried.” And that look—that look is something I hate far more than listening to single pervs waffle at me at the sticky, busy bars of tacky Mexican restaurants. And so, tonight, I choose the lesser of two evils. I choose Tom.

I make my way through too-close-together tables, through flustered waitstaff, and gaggles of diners, perfume-skinned and garlic-breathed, my head swirling a bit now. That’ll be the three margaritas, definitely, without a doubt. But it’s also too hot, and far too jubilant, if you ask me, for somewhere that charges fifteen quid for a bowl of guacamole served in the ceramic stomach cavity of a smiling cartoon avocado. Ugh. I shouldn’t have come tonight. I should have canceled instead—made up some disgusting sounding stomach flu. (Or licked a few shoe soles and purposely contracted one.)

“Sorry.” A waiter steps aside, makes way for me, and I nod a thank-you and pass him, and the huge platter that balances on his open palm. A single, mutilated, eaten chicken carcass sits on it. I feel you, knackered, little pecked-at carcass. I feel exactly the same.

“Why is it you bother going out with them if you dislike it so much?” my sister Jodie asked a few weeks ago, and I’d brushed it off, said, “Oh, don’t listen to me, Jode, I do enjoy it sometimes.” But the true answer to that question is the same as why I’m approaching this stranger at the bar. The alternative is worse. The alternative is those looks of pity I avoid like cracks in the pavement and crisps made of anything that isn’t a potato. The alternative is sitting at home with the cat, drinking frozen cocktails to numb the repetitive doom of “I am alone” that churns over and over in my tummy. It’s wasting entire evenings watching re-runs of TV shows I’ve already seen so I don’t have to concentrate, and wondering whether the cat would miss me if I suddenly just vaporized from beneath his chubby, furry body.

A gap parts in the crowd at the bar, and I slide in, right next to Tom with the hair and the arms and T-shirt, and like an actor on cue, he looks at me and smiles.

“Hi,” he says, stooping a little as the music volume increases. Lucy’s right, although annoyingly, she mostly always is. He is good-looking, this poor targeted man chosen to heal my squashed, run-over crab apple of a heart. And the teeth—Colgate-ad levels of nice. Lucky him. “Natalie, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Cool.” He extends a large hand, and I take it. Strong, smooth, not dirty, not sweaty like a bag of damp turnips. That’s something at least. “I’m Tom.”


He dips his head in a nod.

“So, er, your friend said you’re here because your mate got married?”

“Yep,” I say, as someone squeezes past, jamming my ribs into the side of the wooden bar. “Yep, that’s—that’s right. Priya. She got married a couple of months ago, then buggered off on the longest honeymoon on earth. It was a Christmas wedding. All the bells and whistles.”

“Interesting.” Tom gives a twitch of a smile. “Any snow?”

“Faux snow. Loads of it.”

“Blimey.” He blows out a breath between his lips. “I was expecting a no, but—faux snow. They meant business then, these friends.”

“Yeah,” I say. “They definitely did. Even made a honeymoon baby.”


A woman behind the bar leans across the counter, tips her chin at me. Two giant acrylic pineapples for earrings swing like pendulums at the side of her head. “Margarita, please,” I order loudly, and she nods, as another ridiculous out-of-place dance song strikes up to actual diners’ cheers—weirdly out of place for a restaurant with a crayon station and a sunbathing spatchcocked chicken embellishment on the window. “I don’t understand this place,” I’d said to Lucy when we arrived, and she’d replied, “Well, why do restaurants even need to be understood, Natalie?”

I turn to Tom with the teeth. “So, who are you here with?”

“Couple of mates,” he says, swirling the drink in his glass. His eyes are blue, and his dark lashes are curly in the way they only are for people who don’t care for them. Teeth. Lashes. Lucky him times two. “One of them, Si, he’s back from traveling. Got divorced and went all Eat Pray Love on us. Hadn’t seen him in—maybe two years, until tonight?”

“Oh. That’s nice.”

Sort of,” he says with a wince.

“Sort of?”

“Yeah, well, he’s come back a bit Russell Brand. You know? Full of wisdom. Grown a beard. Rocked up wearing a carpet.”

I laugh. Well, at least he’s funny. The last time I found myself at a bar like this, the guy produced a piece of paper from his wallet that listed a treatment plan for his ingrowing toenail. “Ah, well, it happens to us all, I’m afraid, Tom. I lost my mate Lucy for a while—to wisdom and carpets.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yep. She went traveling for six months. Came back obsessed with essential oils and enemas. Kept meditating. Hollowed out an alarming amount of roasted sweet potatoes.”

Tom laughs, and it’s a laugh I know Priya would say made her vagina explode, if she were sitting here instead of me. It’s deep, warm, a slight rasp. He smells nice too. Fresh, like showers, warm, lemony aftershave.

“Six ninety-nine.” The bartender with the earrings places a drink down on the bar, on top of a tiny, black napkin. She holds out a card reader, unsmiling.


“Ah, shit, let me—” Tom dives a hand into his back pocket, and I scan my debit card on the luminous screen before he can grab the bill.

“It’s fine,” I say, taking a huge mouthful, then another, and he looks at me like he’s witnessing someone go to town on a whole Peking duck with their bare hands beside him. “I’ve got it.”

“O-kay, but I was actually going to—”

“Look. Tom.” I duck now, as if to level with this poor soul lumbered with me. “I’m sorry—and thanks. But I don’t want you to buy me a drink. Honestly. It’s very sweet. But no.”

Tom the Target stares at me.

“But I’d really appreciate it if you could just—you know, carry on doing this? Talk to me for ten minutes, laugh a bit, and then I don’t know, you can say you got bored or something—”

Tom laughs then, a surprised flick of a raised eyebrow, and pulls his phone out of his back pocket, holding it in front of me, like a sommelier presenting a bottle of wine. “My uh—my phone was ringing.” He grimaces. “I wasn’t… buying you a drink.”

“Ah. Well. Right. I see.” Fuck.

“But look, I’ll happily talk to you for a bit.” He ruffles a hand through his dark hair, shrugs. “Laugh a bit. I can be your… I don’t know. What would you call it? Puppet? Pawn? Stand-in?”

“Sorry,” I say, and I can’t figure out whether it’s shame or alcohol turning my cheeks to hot, sizzling lamb chops. “I’m sorry—for jumping in there like that. I’m just—”

“Ah.” Tom waves me away and says, “Seriously, no worries, forget about it,” and I don’t finish my sentence. I drink instead. Mostly because I don’t really know how to finish it. I’m just—what? What am I? Jaded at thirty-two? A mess? Not in the game anymore for meeting people? New people. Old. For falling in like, or in lust, let alone actual love, again? And sad enough to be preoccupied by a piece of mystery sheet music left at a train station piano, like those people who hunt aliens when they find a bit of flattened wheat in a field off the A12? I don’t know. That’s the thing. Since Russ died, I don’t know anything. How I feel, who I am, what’s fun anymore, what I want. My life is nothing but a tangle of unfinished sentences. I am a tangle of unfinished sentences.

“And would you mind?” I say instead. “Being my… shall we say, stand-in? Just for a minute.”

Tom smirks, gives another shrug, and lifts the short whiskey glass to his lips. “Works for me.” He swallows. “Plus, Si’s pulled some weird, stare-y stranger, and Phan—he’s on the phone to his wife outside. She doesn’t trust him an iota.”

“Should she?”

“Fuck, no. I don’t.” He swigs back another mouthful and grins at me. “So, I’m all yours. Come on. What’s my first job? As Natalie’s stand-in.”

I laugh—and thank God. Thank God Tom the Target seems normal and laid-back and very much without that look in his eyes where he thinks I’m nothing but a tough nut to crack. I’m used to that look. That “ha-ha, she says she’s not interested, but a few drinks, a few silly little compliments, and she’ll soon change her mind and be putty, mate” look.

“Just stand there really,” I answer, “and as I said, just laugh a bit, chat a bit…”

“Easy enough.”

“… nod here and there.”

“All right. And you’ll…”

“Oh, I’ll pretend I’m having a nice time. As payment.”

“Make that a really nice time,” Tom adds. “You never know who’s watching.”

“Deal. And I’ll give off the air that I’m really glad we met, if you like? That every hour feels like a minute because it’s just so easy to talk to you—”


“So much chemistry—”


“And I’ll pretend I really, really, really beyond-belief fan—” I freeze then, lips parted, like a haunted portrait. The fourth margarita has already done its thing—pushed me that teensy bit too far. My guard and my filter a little pile of rubble at our feet. I don’t fancy him. Because I don’t fancy anyone anymore, apparently, but saying “I’ll have to pretend to fancy you” to a cool and kind stranger at a bar is not exactly something that would be endorsed by the Good Samaritan, is it?

Tom arches a dark eyebrow. “That you…?”


“Nothing,” he says, amused, with a smile that’s almost a burst of laughter, and this time, it’s Tom who ducks. “If I’m going to be nothing but a puppet—sorry, a stand-in—I reckon it’s only fair you finish that sentence.”

I grimace behind my glass. “Ugh. Fine. I—I was going to say… fancy you,” I admit, shamefully, then I rush out with barely a space between each word, “but what I mean is, I don’t fancy anyone these days. Seriously, I don’t. And you could be—you could be like, Adam Driver, or Vince Vaughn, or—” I stop myself when I find the words “that Lurch guy with the shoulders at Roxanne’s party” gathering in my throat. “I just… it’s just something I don’t really do. Not anymore. That ship—sailed. Bombed. Shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea. Covered in… moss.”

For a moment Tom looks at me, then a smile breaks out on his handsome face. “Well, that’s—that’s good.” Then he leans in and says, “Because I don’t really fancy you either.”


“Bit mossy myself, actually…”


Tom laughs, throwing a glance over his shoulder. “OK, so—what’s the first subject? Your friends are looking over, by the way.”

“Of course they are,” I say, and I feel a weird bloom of affection toward Tom the Target for being a good sport, for aiding and abetting me, for being on my side. “And I dunno. How about… ramble about your job? For say, ten minutes. That should do it.”

“OK, that’s easy. Photographer.”


Interesting.” Tom groans, pulls his mouth into a grimace. “Jesus, Natalie, go easy on me—”

“I mean it!” I laugh. “It is interesting. Seriously.”

“Oh, shit, you were being sincere.”


Tom laughs, moves in closer, a warm, taut, shirted arm touching mine, and I know the girls will be watching from afar, feeling victorious, nudging one other, hopeful that this is it, and the thought makes me want to dive over the bar and drown myself in a keg, to be found months later, like an oversize tequila worm. “Shall I start with photography equipment? Or shall I go for tricky and cool celebrity encounters or—”

“Oh, definitely cool celebs.”

“I’ve got an Adam Driver story actually.”

Do you?”

Tom grins. “They chose wisely with me, your mates, eh?”

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Key to My Heart includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lia Louis. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


A heartwarming novel about hope after loss as a young widow receives mysterious messages of love from the “must-buy author” (Jodi Picoult) of Eight Perfect Hours.

Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness . . . in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.

Topics & Questions for Discussion (12-15 Discussion Questions)

1. Describe the characters of Natalie and Tom. Which of their qualities make them a good match for each other? Were you rooting for them as a couple, or for Natalie and Joe? Why?

2. In chapter five, Natalie explains that she enjoys spending time at Russ’ gravesite, saying, “I don’t think people understand me when I say I like to go there” (p. 44). As you get to know Natalie better over the course of the novel, do you come to understand why she likes to spend time there? What insight does that give you into her character?

3. When Natalie tells Joe her fears, she mentions how so many quotes about grief are about moving on and starting a new life, but “I just want to say: I liked my old one actually. Because I was really happy there, so what do you say to that?” (p. 196). How do you think you would respond to Natalie?

4. When Tom and Natalie go tile shopping, Natalie is stopped short by the feeling of “possibility” happening in her life again. Why is possibility important to Natalie at this point in the story?

5. Tom asks Natalie to explain to him what she’s scared of, and Natalie replies, “Everything. Of never feeling like myself again. Or feeling too much like myself again. Scared of moving. Of not. Of talking about him. Of not talking about him” (p. 162). Have you ever felt like Natalie? Do you relate to her feeling scared of both changing and not changing?

6. If someone were to leave you pieces of music, what songs would they be and why?

7. Shauna advises Natalie to be up front with what she wants from other people, as nobody can read minds. What do you think of Shauna’s advice? Where in Natalie’s life does she need to be more direct with what she wants from her relationships, and where does she need to listen more to what other people are telling her?

8. Do you think Natalie’s reaction to Joe’s revelation was fair? Would you have reacted similarly? Why or why not?

9. Do you think Roxane’s assessment of Natalie thinking of her friends as her enemies has any truth to it? How might Natalie start repairing some of her friendships?

10. What qualities of Natalie’s will make her a good teacher and music therapist?

11. If you were Natalie, do you think you would sell the cottage? Do you think Natalie could have moved forward in her life without selling the home she shared with Russ?

Enhance Your Book Club (3-5 Enhance Your Book Club Suggestions)

1. Pay homage to Russ and go to a garage or yard sale as a group, and pick out some pieces that you think have some history. Share your finds with your book club and why you found them special.

2. As a group, share the songs you chose for question 6, then put them on a playlist and have a listening party. Consider paying homage to Tom and Natalie’s first encounter by serving chips and guacamole.

3. Read one of Lia Louis’s other novels, including DEAR EMMIE BLUE and EIGHT PERFECT HOURS. Compare the themes and characters in the two novels. What does Lia seem to be interested in exploring in her stories?

A Conversation with Lia Louis (10 – 12 Questions)

Q: Why did you decide you wanted your main character to be a widow? What did you want to explore by having Natalie be grieving for Russ?

A: I wanted to explore what happens when the everyday, comfortable routine of your life is taken away and how you move forward when it’s something you would have never chosen for yourself. What do you do with all the plans you had? What do you do with the anger, the feeling of injustice, the fear? This was something I was really thinking in 2020 and 2021, when a lot of us were put into “lockdown” because of the pandemic and lost so many of the things (and some of us, sadly, people) that made up our everyday world. There was a lot of loss during that time, and there was nothing we could do about it. It’s easy to forget who you are when faced with loss, I think, and it’s the little things that prevail during those times. And in Natalie’s case, it was music.

Q: How did you choose what songs would be meaningful to Natalie? Are any of them songs that have meaning for you?

A: Mostly, especially toward the end, they were songs that matched up to things that occurred in the book. It was more about the titles and how they could be little hints (without I hope, being obvious) when it came to music left by Tom. I think music can say so much, even better than words can, whether it’s a melody, a minor chord, a mood . . . all of those things can paint an emotion so perfectly. Also, nothing can solidify a memory in time more than a song. They might not always be perfectly, movie-style appropriate (this is why I used “Nervous Alibi” as an example!) but if a song plays at an important moment in your life, for instance, it sort of attaches itself to that moment. I think we can all recall a song that conjures a memory, and the nostalgia is so strong, it can blindside you. In a good way (and also bad!) I had a great time choosing them.

Q: There are so many fantastic secondary characters in THE KEY TO MY HEART—who was your favorite to write and why?

A: Ooh, I can’t choose! I loved writing Shauna, and if I was totally pressed and forced to choose one (ha-ha) I’d go with lovely, lovely Shauna. Equally, though, I loved writing Priya and Jodie! They came to life so easily as I wrote them, and as a writer, those characters are always the joy to write.

Q: What was it like writing a love triangle of sorts? Did you always know Natalie would end up with Tom?

A: Not always! When I first wrote the synopsis, Tom was going to be nothing more than a friend, and them not being attracted to each other, a (true) joke between them. But when I got to the end, it felt weird having her end up with someone else. It jarred. My agent then read it and without me saying a word, she also said “Ah, I was thinking she’d end up with Tom!” and I thought, “that settles it then. Tom it is.” Sometimes, no matter how much you plan, a book just pushes to go a certain way, and you have to obey it. Natalie and Tom belonged together and those characters sort of forced me to make it so! They knew what they wanted . . .

Q: Have you followed your character’s advice to be brave by thinking about how the ninety-eight-year-old version of you would forge ahead? What about this piece of wisdom did you like as a means of conquering fears?

A: Yes! My brother and I often say, “will this matter to us on our death beds?” which I think is sort of similar, because no, that small work complaint won’t matter so don’t sweat it, and yes, missing this important date for my best friend or my kids will matter to me, so I’m going to make sure I do it. I often check in with Old Lady Lia, too, when I’m anxious or worried about not making the right decision. She’s like my inner wise self, and she always seems to know the answer. (And mostly that answer is, fuck it and go for it, so she’s a bit of a badass and perhaps a little reckless too, ha-ha.)

Q: THE KEY TO MY HEART feels like a classic rom-com; are there any rom-coms—books, film, or TV—that inspired you when you wrote it?

A: What a compliment! I am obsessed with classic rom-coms. When Harry Met Sally, Notting Hill, Jerry McGuire, ugh, I could (and do!) watch them over and over, so I think I’m always inspired by these kinds of movies. I was definitely thinking of the cottage in The Holiday when I wrote Natalie’s house though!

Q: On a related note, if you were to cast a film adaptation of THE KEY TO MY HEART, who would star in it?

A: I feel like Andrew Scott or Tom Riley would make AMAZING Tom Maddens. Even someone like Matthew Goode would be great! In general though, I feel like I won’t rest until Nicola Coughlan and Sebastian Stan are given rom-com leads. They are just perfect rom-com actors in my opinion.

Q: Natalie’s friendships are very important to her, but she also struggles to be open and honest with her friends. When did you decide you wanted to have Roxanne call her out on her lack of trust in these friendships? What interested you in exploring the complicated bonds between Natalie and her friends?

A: It was weirdly one of those scenes that just happened, but it made perfect sense. Friendships morph and evolve all the time as we morph and evolve, and that can be really scary, because as humans, we’re afraid of change. But it’s natural. Normal. Although sometimes we feel we have to force it to stay the same. I think this scene is that. Natalie has to accept she isn’t who she used to be before she lost her husband, and therefore, neither are her friendships, and her friends have to accept that too. It doesn’t mean they can’t be friends anymore or have to shut each other out (or force themselves back “in”). But it means perhaps they need to move with the natural evolution. I think this scene is also a big shout-out from them both to be vulnerable. Talk. Listen. Be honest. Support. And ask for help too.

Q: Are you musical? Did you do any research to bring the musical elements to life?

A: I love music. My dad was in bands growing up, and it was a big part of my childhood. I also had the pleasure of talking to some musicians, which was fascinating and so inspiring. I owe them a lot. A musical brain is a fascinating and beautiful thing to get a window into.

Q: There are both big and small romantic gestures throughout Natalie and Tom’s relationship. Which did you find the swooniest and sweetest to write?

A: I love the tube station scene, where Tom chases Natalie (to call her a dickhead, ha-ha, but it’s still romantic to me!) And oh my god, the ending! The ending when Natalie finds out all the photos of people watching her play. I loved every moment of writing that part.

Q: Can you share anything about your next novel?

A: I can! And if I can say this, my next book is my favorite thing I have ever written. It’s about a woman who wakes up one day to find all her email drafts sent (including one to the only man she’s ever loved) and I am having the most fun time writing it!

About The Author

Photograph by Patrick Harboun

Lia Louis lives in the United Kingdom with her partner and three young children. Before raising a family, she worked as a freelance copywriter and proofreader. She was the 2015 winner of Elle magazine’s annual writing competition and has been a contributor for Bloomsbury’s Writers and Artists blog for aspiring writers. She is the author of Somewhere Close to HappyDear Emmie Blue, Eight Perfect Hours, and The Key to My Heart.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (December 6, 2022)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668001264

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Raves and Reviews

"THE KEY TO MY HEART is a simply beautiful book. A Lia Louis novel always leaves me feeling warm and uplifted, and this is her best one yet."

– Beth O'Leary, internationally bestselling author of THE NO-SHOW

"THE KEY TO MY HEART is a warm, relatable journey through the bogs of grief to living life again."

– Abby Jimenez, New York Times bestselling author of PART OF YOUR WORLD

“The SWEETEST, most romantic book. It was a PURE DELIGHT to read.”

– Marian Keyes, internationally bestselling author of AGAIN, RACHEL

"This is a STUNNER of a book. Such a beautiful story that filled my heart up to the brim. Loved, loved, loved THE KEY TO MY HEART."

– Jessica Ryn, author of THE IMPERFECT ART OF CARING 

"Incredibly tender and heartwarming. Down-to-earth characters who made me laugh out loud, and Natalie has my heart."

– Anstey Harris, author of WHEN I FIRST HELD YOU


"Gloriously romantic and very funny, this delightful book is not to be missed."

– Louise O’Neill, author of THE SURFACE BREAKS

"I loved THE KEY TO MY HEART: moving, wise, and funny. Lia Louis is rom com note perfect."

– Gillian McAllister, internationally bestselling author of THAT NIGHT

"Heartwarming, hope-filled and hilarious, THE KEY TO MY HEART is wonderful. I loved this tender story about opening your heart and letting love into your life. Reading a Lia Louis book is like hanging out with your very best friend and drinking a whipped cream hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, pure joy."

– Lindsey Kelk, internationally bestselling author of THE CHRISTMAS WISH

"THE KEY TO MY HEART is a poignant, life-affirming novel that sparkles throughout with Lia Louis' trademark humor and charm. A moving exploration of love, loss and learning to let go, Natalie's story will warm your heart and leave a smile on your face long after you turn the final page."

– Holly Miller, Author of THE SIGHT OF YOU

"A charming, laugh-out-loud funny novel about navigating loss and learning how to move forward. THE KEY TO MY HEART is a warm hug in book form."

– Shauna Robinson, author of MUST LOVE BOOKS

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