My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

009.JPG

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry was another of my holiday reads and it feels as though I read it forever ago.

It took me just under three days to read.  Any spare moment I had I was reading it – as soon as we sat on the sun loungers, as soon as we got back to the room I was on our terrace reading it. I even wanted to get back to our room early after a couple of drinks in the evening to read it. I don’t think I have been that hooked on a book since The Girl on the Train.

Young lawyer Lily marries wannabe artist Ed after a whirlwind romance. Both unsure of themselves and each other, Lily is highly focused on her career while Ed struggles to get his paintings recognised.

Lily’s first big case involves a man accused of murdering his girlfriend. The man in question, Joe Thomas, unearths Lily’s darkest desires, she feels things she’s never felt for Ed. The pair sleep together and Lily soon becomes pregnant although we never know who the father is. Throughout the rest of Lily’s life Joe plays a very important character.

011.JPG

Running alongside Ed and Lily’s story is Carla’s and her mother’s. Struggling for money as a single mother, Carla’s mother has an affair with what turns out to be Lily’s boss who provides them with the money they need. The pair live down the hall from Ed and Lily and the newlyweds end up babysitting Carla. Carla, an Italian, feels completely different at school compared to everyone else and is ostracised. Ed takes a shine to Carla and decides to paint her. The painting allows Ed to hit the big time and the image becomes iconic.

Fast forward 10-15 years and Carla has studied law in Italy and is now back in the UK to finish her final year. She seeks Ed and Lily out and manipulates the pair into giving her money for what she’s owed for the painting.

The spark is reignited with Ed and Carla and they begin an affair. Lily soon finds out and wants revenge. But the sweetest revenge for her is out of her hands as Carla soon finds that life with Ed is not what she thought it would be. Now married to each other and with a child, Ed turns to alcohol as a way to cope with his failing art career (he is never able to emulate the success her had with his ‘Italian Girl’ painting).

In a fit of rage when Ed thinks Carla is now having an affair Carla stabs Ed and flees as she thinks she’s killed him. And here is where Joe enters again. Lily gave Joe a key to the house to check up on the pair and Joe seeing Ed with a knife in his chest takes the knife out which is the nail in the coffin for Ed.

Carla is then accused of murder, as no one knows about Joe entering the house and asks Lily to be her lawyer. Lily accepts but Carla is convicted of murder.

010.JPG

There were an awful lot of back stories involved which did add to the overall tension. The only downside for me was the rather creepy story of Lily and her half-brother, Daniel’s relationship. The latter fancying the former and kills himself when he realises Lily is seeing someone else. The event happens when they were teenagers and is the reason Lily is attracted to Joe because he reminds her of Daniel.

It’s definitely a book you have to read quickly due to all the constant change in direction of the narrative. It’s a novel I kept thinking about for weeks afterwards.

Advertisements

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

getattachmentthumbnail

 

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld isn’t necessarily the first book you think of when you try to decide what books to take on holiday but I wanted a book that I could sink my teeth into and to be slightly more high-brow than your average holiday book.

 

To begin with American Wife isn’t initially as political as you think it will be. Told in flashbacks from the main protagonist, Alice Blackwell’s, perspective it charts her life and rise to be the current president’s wife.

 

Coming from a middle class family in Wisconsin, only child Alice has a good upbringing and relatively happy childhood living with her mother, bank manager father and her eccentric grandmother. She recounts one trip where her grandmother takes her to Chicago as teen and encourages her go on a date. Leaving the date early Alice heads back and finds her grandmother kissing her lady, doctor friend. This is the moment for Alice when she awakens and realises she is no longer a child.

 

A catalogue of catastrophes happens when she decides to drive herself to a party in a rage as she has fallen out with her best friend Dina. She sees a car in front her but cannot reach the brakes quick enough and crashes into the car which holds her childhood sweetheart Andrew. This event and Andrew’s death shapes her whole life and is still as vivid in her mind recounting it at sixty as the day it happened.

 

Completely out of character and lost she visits Andrew’s house and finds his brother, Pete, there who she embarks on a sexual relationship with. He is completely vile and she finds herself pregnant and when her grandmother guesses, she takes Alice to her doctor friend to have an abortion, an event again which threatens to ruin her future husbands’ political stance.

getattachmentthumbnail

She goes to university and becomes a teacher and later a librarian. Dina drags Alice along to a party as the rather dashing Charlie Blackwell will be there. Dina sets her sights on him but it’s Alice that Charlie has eyes for. Initially Charlie’s feelings aren’t reciprocated but soon the pair become inseparable much to Dina’s disgust (the friends don’t speak for nearly forty years and are only reunited in the strangest of circumstances when her grandmother’s friend threatens to expose Alice’s abortion to the nation and Alice visits Dina and Pete who are together and asks for their silence).

 

They get engaged after weeks together and Alice finds herself a part of the prestigious Blackwell family, Charlie’s dad was Governor of the state and they are rolling in money. Charlie is completely boyish and is always telling crude jokes with his brothers and drinking. While it’s funny in his twenties by his early forties, and jobless, Alice tires of his behaviour.

 

She leaves him and goes to her mother’s house with daughter in tow. After some rather choice words Charlie becomes bereft at the thought of losing Alice and gets sober and even finds god. This is the catalyst he needs. As he has friends in high places and he soon has the following to become Governor and then president for two terms.

getattachmentthumbnail

Alice oozes class and wisdom, she is the type of woman people aspire to be. She remains cool and calm through Charlie’s drinking years and impartial and hardworking through his presidency. She didn’t want him to become Governor and she certainly didn’t want him to be president, she as a staunch Democrat and he a Republican, but she stands by him and supports him all she can. The differences between her life then and now is astounding as she explains she cannot even walk into a house unless it’s been inspected or down a street for fear of bombs or threats.

 

Apart from a fleeting comment she makes about wanting to withdraw the troops from the Middle East which angers Charlie she can do no wrong in his eyes and he knows she is way out of his league. What Sittenfeld has done is create the epitome of what a First Lady should be (she was apparently modelled on Laura Bush).

 

This is a wonderful book which will most definitely stand the test of time.

After You by Jojo Moyes

003.JPG

After You by Jojo Moyes

Riding high from the excitement of watching Me Before You (I quite liked that book, find my review here) I learnt that Jojo Moyes has done a sequel. Why hadn’t I heard about this previously I thought, well you might well ask. In my opinion it wasn’t as well documented as it could have been and with all good reason.

Like most people I’m a little skeptical of sequels whether it be a book or film. But I thought I would give this one a go.

Really After You didn’t need to be written. It should have been called After Thought. Me Before You had wrapped everything up nicely, albeit in a rather sad way and I can’t help thinking, regardless of what Moyes said about readers wanting to know what happened to Lou Clark, that it’s all just money making.
004.JPG
Lou has returned from Paris and finds herself back to square one, working in an airport bar and living all alone – although she has bought her own place with Will’s money which he left her. One night she goes on the balcony and slips breaking her hip and a multitude of other bones.

She goes to meetings to talk about her grief and learns that one of the boy’s uncles, Richard, was the paramedic who helped her on the night of her fall.

In the meantime she’s visited by an eccentric and rebellious teenage girl who claims to be Will’s daughter from a relationship at university. When it turns out to be true Lou is shocked but tries to help Lily build a relationship with Will’s parents. There’s also subplots of Lily stealing, becoming homeless and sexual interactions.

One of the final scenes involves Lou struggling with whether she wants to be with Richard. She ends up riding in his ambulance and getting caught in the middle of a gun fight between rival gangs – Richard inevitably gets shot. It really was one of the most ridiculous things ever.

Throughout the novel is the running story of Lo being offered a job as a nanny in New York through a recommendation. She does end up backing out of the job but in the final scene she’s waving Richard goodbye at the airport as she jets off to New York with the hope of a long term relationship developing.

I have to be in the mood to read a Jojo Moyes book, it’s what I describe as ‘cheesy dramatic’. A dramatic scene never has you on the edge of your seat as a. The characters are normally wetties and b. The writing sadly isn’t the best. There were times even in the first book where I wanted to shake Lou this time I wanted to beat her round the head with a stick.

Rant over -phew.