A memory: golden-tipped sand dunes, early June heat waves blurring the Northumberland coastline. Michael racing towards the shore, Emily on his shoulders, their laughter ringing out against the crash of the rolling waves. A family together.
Two years later, and the landscape of Kate’s marriage has changed irrevocably. When Michael came home one evening and dealt the fateful blow to their marriage, neither could have imagined the heart-wrenching journey stretching before them.
Her happy home with Michael and their two beautiful girls has been washed away like footprints in the sand.
The Torn Up Marriage by Caroline Roberts opens with a very sinister and thought provoking first line 'The front door opened and the fist around her heart tightened'. Well that had certainly aroused my interest and I can say this interest held for the majority of what proved to be a surprisingly good, strong read. Kate is 33 and apparently happily married to 34 year old Michael. They have two sweet, beautiful young daughters Emily and Charlotte who throughout the novel tug at your heartstrings and provide one or two moments of much needed light comic relief. When we first meet Kate she is suspicious and angry and when her husband arrives home she puts all thoughts of the consequences aside and confronts Michael. Unbelievably he readily admits to having an affair with a work colleague - Sophie. An affair which has been going on right underneath Kate's nose for several months. The gentle equilibrium of the family is shattered and the fallout out from what can only be described as one of the most cruel, devastating, heartbreaking events a woman can experience is dealt with in solid detail throughout the course of the novel.
Caroline Roberts was not afraid to shy away from the harsh realities of a relationship and a family life disintegrating right before the readers eyes. She has an excellent way of describing the myriad of emotions Kate goes through upon finding out her soul mate was not in this marriage for the long haul or as they say until death do us part. Kate is well aware no marriage can ever be perfect 100% of the time and she herself is not without fault. Raising two young children and keeping a family home running is not the easiest of tasks in life and yes there may have been arguments in recent months but does this give anyone the excuse to stray from the marital home and find a bit on the side no matter how much you think you are in love with that new found person? One aspect I really loved was that we heard from Michael's point of view. Too often stories that involve affairs are one sided and all we read about is the woman's complaints and how she then does her best to find a new man. Here we see how Michael even admits to himself he had fallen head over heels for Sophie and he just couldn't stop himself no matter how much he hurt and tore his family apart. 'When had their marriage changed so much that it had to end, that he'd had to destroy it?' Normally I am very judgemental and always side with the woman but in this case I began to have a small ounce of compassion for Michael as he is split in two over what has unfolded. Not that I would condone what he has done but this novel shows there are two sides to every story but ultimately secrets and lies will eventually out for the good or for the bad.
Kate at first attempts to stay strong for her children when Michael leaves but soon we see her fall apart. The pressure of maintaining a strong composed front for the children and keeping up with daily chores soon becomes overwhelming and cracks begin to show. I felt it was bit too clichéd for Kate to turn to the bottle. Couldn't we have had a woman who can go through the mourning period for her marriage without the use of alcohol? Fortunately, we are given the chance to really get inside Kate's head as she tries to process everything and come to the realisation that it wasn’t all her fault and that she can do this solo. Her whole world just has to realign and adjust itself to a life without Michael. Kate goes all the relevant stages – disbelief, upset, heartache and anger. There is no messing around here the reader is presented with the bitter harsh realities of a breakdown of a marriage. How everyday life and the children are deeply affected and why in so many cases the woman is left to pick up the pieces. There are several other storylines surrounding Michael’s infidelity, one which was not needed at all just another cliché. But Michael's family proved interesting and worthwhile and were invaluable to the overall outcome.
I'll admit I was hesitant about reading this book, I thought it was going to be too similar to books I had read recently by Hilary Boyd and Sarah Foot. Both of which dealt with marriage and the fallouts from certain events. I had struggled through these two books and feared the same would happen with The Torn Up Marriage. But I knew in this case from the very first line that this book was different. It was written in an easy to read style but still packed a punch and posed endless questions. This is a book which makes you think about love and marriage. How betrayal and mistrust can deeply affect family dynamics and relationships. As I mentioned in the beginning I felt the book was strong for the majority of the book but I was let down by the last quarter. The ending for me was disappointing and will leave many people divided. But I suppose it only provides another point for discussion and debate. Caroline Roberts has written a simple but at times quite deep, emotional and fascinating book into the innermost working of a marriage and its fallout. It made me change my opinion several times over of characters and had me imagining what would I do if placed in that situation. A steady, interesting first read from this author who knows how to write about love. Let's see what she chooses to tackle next. I for one will be willingly to read and find out.
I'd like to thank Emma for her honest review of this eBook which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.