12 July 2013
Book Review: Someone Else's Wedding by Tamar Cohen
Mrs Fran Friedman, mourning her empty nest, her lost baby, the galloping years, and a disastrous haircut.
Mr Saul Friedman, runner of marathons, avoider of conflicts and increasingly distant husband
The two Misses Friedman, Pip and Katy, one pining over the man she can't have, the other trying to shake off the man she no longer wants
At the marriage of their son James Irving, forbidden object of inappropriate and troubling desire
For thirty-six hours of secrets and lies, painted-on-smiles and potential ruin. And drinks, plenty of drinks.
There's nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past. As Fran negotiates her way from Saturday morning to Sunday evening she is forced to confront things she's long thought buried, sending shockwaves through her family, and to make decisions about the future that will have far-reaching consequences for them all."
You can buy Someone Else's Wedding as a hardback or an eBook now.
I've been lucky enough to read both of Tamar Cohen's previous novels, The War of the Wives and The Mistresses Revenge, and I was completely engrossed by both of them. I have to say both have a pretty controversial topic, where you end up a bit shocked by what you're reading but at the same time, you just can't put it down because you have to know how things are going to be tied up nicely for the end! Cohen's writing is fantastic to read, and I was thrilled to receive a copy of her latest book Someone Else's Wedding, complete with a pretty shocking book cover that actually I really liked, and eagerly got stuck into the story.
Fran Friedman is getting used to life on her own. Her two daughters have grown up and left home, leaving her home alone with her husband Saul, and she doesn't know what to do with herself. She's still mourning the loss of her stillborn baby just a few years ago, and struggles to cope with the insensitivity of others to the issue. When she and her family are invited to the wedding of Jamie, a family friend, Fran wonders if she can hide everything she's thinking behind a smile. Those around her keep throwing looks at her and Jamie, wondering what could be going on between the older woman and young groom, but Fran is determined to keep her secrets well and truly hidden. At the end of the wedding day, will Fran have made some life-changing decisions of her own?
I have to first of all mention the narrative of the book, which is each chapter is an hour of the wedding weekend, a bit like episodes of 24 which was my first thought when I started reading lol, although with less guns and no Jack Bauer of course! The book only takes place over a few days, but this doesn't slow it down at all, in fact, moving in real time really draws you and you know that things are going to happen quite quickly and dramatically to keep the tension, and I was left wondering how long it would be until Fran gave herself away or something else happened to shock us readers. We follow Fran for the entire book, reading all about her, her thoughts, feelings and her watching the action of the wedding around her, so she is the one we get to know best. She isn't a perfect character by any means, she's clearly hiding something (we don't find out what for a huge chunk of the book), and you cannot help but feel immensely sorry for her over the death of her baby, Molly, and how it affects her in everything she does. Her pregnancy is documented in flashbacks in the book, and were very emotional to read for me, I found some of the scenes quite hard actually.
There are quite a few other characters in the book to keep track of, but the main ones are Fran's daughters, her husband Saul, and the bridge and groom from the wedding. We only get Fran's point of view about these people, so it is a little biased but it's fun to try and form your own opinion of them from things that happen as the book progresses. Jamie was the only one I struggled to like, there was just something a bit funny about him that I couldn't warm to, but when things were revealed (and oh my goodness, I did NOT ever see that one coming!!), it sort of made sense a bit more, I loved that Cohen was able to play about with these characters so well. The wedding itself is the perfect setting - lots of people, lots of things going on, and Fran and Saul's marriage really being put to the test and under scrutiny too. It shows how outward happiness can be a facade, and you feel sorry for Fran as you can see she is still suffering throughout the book.
I loved Cohen's writing, and found her pacing of the book, and the way she spaced it over just a weekend was a really unique way to write, and it was easy to dip in and out of the book as well. You are left wondering and guessing as to what the twists are going to be, but I was truly surprised when things came out in this book, and I really love it when an author can surprise me, especially when I'm right near the end of the book and am sure I've worked it all out! It's an emotional book, very tied up with Fran and her feelings, so be prepared to get quite invested in that, but it is worth the read. I honestly did enjoy this book so very much, Cohen is a fantastic storyteller, and while the cast of characters aren't especially likeable people, you will want to read all about them, and keep turning the pages until you reach the last one. A super story that makes me eager for Tamar Cohen's next book!