Friday, 10 August 2012

The War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen

review by Maryom

When Simon Busfield dies in strange circumstances his wife Selina not only has grief and shock to cope with but the sudden appearance of another wife, Lottie, and a daughter! She soon discovers that for 17 years, while she thought he was away on business, Simon was living with his other family. While the two women struggle to come to terms with the startling turn of events, the police begin to query why Simon was in London when both wives believed him abroad and where he's siphoned off huge amounts of money to.

Told alternately from the point of view of Selina and Lottie, the writing captures their differing characters and reactions to his death and the revelations about his life that seem to just keep coming. They are very different women - Selina's a well-preserved 51 year old housewife, living in a huge house, frequenting an expensive gym, one of those ladies who 'lunch'; Lottie is completely different - younger, artistic, a much freer spirit. Sometimes I felt one deserved my sympathy, sometimes the other.
It's cleverly plotted with five sections  - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance - relating to the emotions experienced on hearing of the death of someone close (I'm not sure if the author intended this to be a reference to a Simpsons' episode in which Homer learns of his imminent death and reacts in these ways - perhaps I'm making connections that aren't intended to be there)

I was pleased that the story didn't descend into soap-style bickering and fights  - two wives at a funeral has a lot of potential for screaming and cat-calling - but at the same time I'd expected a somehow more dramatic ending.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Doubleday
Genre - adult fiction,  

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