Worn out Wife Seeks New Life – Carmen Reid

I instantly empathised with Tess. I felt as though she had been let down big time at work and I couldn’t see an easy way out of it for her. If I were Tess, I would feel inordinately unhappy (understatement of the week) with work!

I admired the way that Tess managed to wangle a summer-long sabbatical from work after her disappointment, framing it in such a way as to make it sound favourable to her organisation. I genuinely felt that it would be beneficial to her personal life, at any rate, joining her teacher Husband in a nice long break.

River, on the other side of the Atlantic is also having work issues; the film industry is not a easy one, as she is finding out. As a struggling screenwriter, can she make a success of bringing a Shakespeare project over to England for inspiration? I felt sorry for River, as it felt to me that her problems with work were not through want of trying or lack of effort; the film industry is just notoriously difficult to succeed in.

Both women have proposed ‘left of field’ ideas and have been pleasantly surprised to have them accepted. I did find myself wondering whether or not the two women’s paths would cross at all, in that they worked in such different fields.

I felt for Tess, in that her Husband seemed very much entrenched in his set way of life, completely closed to new ideas! She may have her work cut out, persuading him to go travelling for the whole summer! I felt really sad at Tess’s comparison of her marriage, to watching a video of someone laboriously trying to create a spark, from rubbing 2 sticks together! I did however have a bit of a ‘snort out loud’ moment, when Tess replaces the words of the famous Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem read out at their wedding, asking ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’, with ‘How do you annoy me? Let me count the ways.’ A play on a classic quote that must surely resound with many married couples!

I truly empathised with Tess – the way the author describes her sadness and regret at not having spent more time with her children during summers past, when they were still at school. This topic was described in such a real way, I could not but help but wonder if these were the author’s own thoughts. What I do know for certain, was that this very much resounded with me as a version of my own truth.

The author’s last depictions of Bella were simultaneously heart wrenching and beautifully written, such was the raw emotion. One couldn’t help but be moved by this superlative yet sympathetic writing. Again I detected the inspiration of personal experience of the author, such was the raw, but realistic tone of the very clever writing.

At first Tess’s family seemed the perfect family, but as the story developed, it seemed to be becoming a myriad of secrets. In fact it was easier to think about who didn’t have a secret. All of this did nothing for me, but add to the enticing air of mystery surrounding the book.

Serendipity conspires to leave Dave recovering from a fall at home in the summer house, while Tess and Ruby ostensibly house swap. This leads the story open to a wealth of fun on both sides of the Atlantic, and perhaps the revelation of a few home truths as I couldn’t help but feel that the individual members of Tess’s family, Tess included, needed to open up to each other. I’m not accusing them of lying, but as much of not being honest with themselves, let alone each other. Just how the two women get on, ostensibly living each other’s lives – I am going to leave for you to discover.

As a whole, this book was a wonderful story about friends and family and those bonds that hold us together, but there was a vital, yet barely detectable dark streak running unnoticed throughout most of the story, that could have ended in two ways. This was a story of self discovery and of knowing and understanding the importance of your role in life and the production that is your family; about knowing yourself and being prepared to talk; about being open to making things better.

The first few chapters of this book laid a cracking (in the metaphoric sense, rather than the literal) foundation for a really fantastic read, especially for the summer, tapering into an occasionally harrowing tome, with the potential for tragedy, but I do not want to reveal any more detail, for fear of spoiling what will be an unbeatable literary experience, for you.

When you invariably chose this as your next read, simply use this link to buy your own copy: https://amzn.to/34hthhb


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