Monday, 9 September 2013

Guest Book Review: Carole Radziwill - The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating

Reviewed by Janine Cobain

Claire's husband is a philandering 'sexologist' who believes love and sex can't co-exist. But it breaks her heart when he dies and leaves her a young widow.

As she braces herself for her new life alone, Claire can't help but wonder if her late-lamented was right all along. After getting through the pain of his passing, she's returning to the battlefield of bad dates. So when she's asked to write the biography of lothario movie star Jack Huxley, she's surprised when he doesn't live up to his sleazy reputation. Not only is he more than meets the eye, but he's got his eye on her. Claire's determined to banish her husband's ghosts and prove him wrong. But having found her first Mr Right, does she deserve a second?

A unique, extraordinarily perceptive and darkly comic novel about widows, sex and love - in that order.

Amazon links: Paperback or Kindle 

Chapter 1 - The upshot of the story is this : A man falls dead, the widow gets laid, love is drag, the end” a succinct and accurate synopsis, you could stop there and be confident you had an understanding of this novel.  But don’t!

The proverb tells us not to judge a book by its cover and yet this is exactly what I did with this one.  The tag line ‘If you had already found your Mr Right, how hard would it be to find a second?' rippled my smugness at having found such a Mister, if the unthinkable happened - what then? 

When Claire’s husband sexologist and award winning writer Charles Byrne is crushed by a falling statue her life begins to unravel.  She is a wife without a husband, half of a pair and is unsure of how to behave.  As the story unfolds the idea of Charles being ‘Mr Right’ becomes questionable; a man who believed love and sex cannot co-exist bestowed his love on his wife but carried out most of his sexual activity outside the marriage.  

Having been such a dominant influence over her, Claire is unsure how to exist without him and seeks guidance from divination and psychotherapy.  Young, beautiful and wealthy she becomes threat to married female friends and they attempt to pair her off with a string of unsuitable men to prevent their husbands taking more than a passing interest in the new virginity widowhood has bestowed on her.   

I expected this novel to be a painful account of a woman’s grief, a tortured tale of lost love and black days, of tears and endless nights.  It was not.  I was almost disappointed at first but the lack of emotion was refreshing.  She had just lost her husband; of course she was grieving we didn’t need this to be traced out in tears.  Claire’s character emerged from the shadow of her deceased husband and she blossomed on the page and made up the rules up as she went along : RULE #9 Always judge a book by its cover.  

Carole Radziwill’s writing style is unusual.  She says as much by what she leaves out as she does with the words she writes.  Her script is punchy, descriptive and takes you straight to the point.  The novel often has the feel of a magazine article rather than a long story which keeps it fresh and upbeat.  

Peppered with strong characters and handsome men this is perfect to whisk you away from the onset of autumn.

I'd like to thank Margot at Quercus for sending us a copy of The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating to review. 

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