Friday, 30 August 2013

Guest Book Review: Catherine Alliott - My Husband Next Door

Reviewed by Janine Cobain

When Ella married the handsome, celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair at just nineteen she was madly in love. Now, those blissful years of marriage have turned into the very definition of an unconventional set-up. Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella's ramshackle farmhouse.

With an ex-husband living under her nose and a home crowded by hostile teenaged children, gender-confused chickens - not to mention her hyper critical mother whose own marriage slips spectacularly off the rails - Ella finds comfort in the company of the very charming gardener, Ludo.

Then out of the blue Sebastian decides to move on, catching Ella horribly unawares. How much longer can she hide from what really destroyed her marriage . . . and the secret she continues to keep?

This book was a little slow to start and if I hadn’t promised to review it I may have given up.  The tale felt familiar, almost a mish-mash of other stories; failed marriages, parents rediscovering their youth and libido, opinionated teenagers you could cheerfully slap and yet it was beautifully written.  Ella’s internal monologue was insightful and illuminating;  her personality and that of her friends and family were coloured in as the pages unfolded.
The protagonist irritated me as often as she invoked my pity and yet I failed to feel any genuine sympathy for her or her situation.  However maybe she vexed me because I identified her weaknesses with my own – the complexity in her relationships with others was testament to the experience and talent of the author.

I was waiting for something to happen that didn’t materialise, turning each page hoping for a something, anything to grip me and towards the very end it did – secrets unfolded, happy endings ensued. Although I’m glad I persevered with it even just for paragraphs such as this;

“Oh, to run away.  To no longer be somebody’s mother, somebody’s sister, or somebody’s daughter with dividend and complicated loyalties.  Not to mention somebody’s wife...”

I like a book to grip me, to leave me pondering about characters when I have stepped out of the pages and this did not do that, although I don’t feel reading it was a waste of time; I enjoyed it for what it was; a rambling tale of everyday where nothing startling is happening but life.

I'd like to thank Janine for reviewing this for me and Penguin Books for sending us this book to review.  Amazon links: Trade Paperback or Kindle

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