17 July 2009
Book Review: Marriage and Other Games by Veronica Henry
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Charlotte is absolutely mortified when her husband is arrested for a committing a crime that implicates her in his bad behaviour. She decides to flee to her friend's ramshackle house in the small Exmoor village of Withybrook where no-one knows whats gone on between her and Ed. She's surprised to find the villager's lives are all as peaceful and calm as she imagined either, and she soon befriend local bad-boy and celebrity Sebastian. His marriage isn't going too well, and is drinking himself into oblivion while his wife works in London. Fitch, married to Hayley is also struggling but with his wife's wild demands and juggling fatherhood too. Finally, GP Penny is free and single, and is determined to make the most of love this time around, but with who? Will Charlotte regret her move to Withybrook, or is it going to turn out to be the best move she ever made?
I first came across Veronica Henry when my mum told me to read "Love on the Rocks" by her, and I absolutely adored that book - it was well written and such an enjoyable read. I have Veronica's "Honeycote" series on my shelf to read, and I can't wait to get around to reading them. I was so excited to get a copy of Veronica's latest book, the stand-alone story "Marriage and Other Games", which is Veronica's 7th book. I was expecting an absorbing and brilliant read, and that is certainly what I got from the book! I passed the novel onto my mum as well, and she enjoyed just as much as I did, proving Veronica's novels appeal across the generations!
The story, although primarily and initially following the life of Charlotte, does branch out into several characters and I really liked this. There was always something new happening and it totallly held my interest, I didn't want to put it down at all. The book begins with the breakdown of Charlotte and Ed's marriage and quickly moves to Withybrook, where the rest of the novel takes place. Withybrook sounds so charming, and quint-essentially English, it sounds so perfect I just want to move there now! The quiet village life, everyone knowing each other's business and the millionaire artist - who wouldn't want to live there?!
The character development is beautifully done during the novel - we see Charlotte turn from a very angry and isolated individual to one who fully embraces village life and Withybrook's inhabitants too.I really liked Charlotte from the beginning, she's the wronged wife and you can sympathise with her turmoil as she's forced to leave behind everything that makes her Charlotte. Henry writes with realism about the struggle to settle into an established community, and writes village life so well, you can immerse yourself in it and imagine you're in Withybrook with them.
As well as Charlotte, all the other characters are brilliant and fit into the story perfectly. I loved the eccentric Sebastian, a misunderstood artist and you can't help but warm to him because he seems so lonely. Fitch was another character I really liked, I felt so sorry for him and wanted everything to turn out nicely for him. There's a huge shock towards the end of the book for Fitch and I totally didn't see it coming at all! For some reason, I couldn't warm to Penny at all even though her story was again a bit sad. Overall though, they are so well written and believable as people, I could really care about them as the story progressed and that for me is key to enjoying a book!
I loved this book. It started out totally differently from where it ended up but I liked that - it felt like I went on a journey with the characters and I was disappointed that it came to an end. It's the sort of book you can absorb yourself in, and even though its fairly lengthy, I finished it quickly because I couldn't stop reading as I wanted to know it was all going to end for the Withybrook residents! Charlotte is the perfect heroine of the book, women will like her and care about her story, and the other characters flit in and out creating a superb novel. It's fully deserving of its 5 stars from me, and fans, both new and old, of Veronica Henry will love it. Summer reading at its best, just brilliant!
Thank you to the publishers for sending us a copy to review!