1 May 2009

Book Review: Husbands and Lies by Susy McPhee

Fran is happily married to Max and the pair have a young daughter called Lottie. However, things in Fran's life aren't going too well.

Her best friend Alison has cancer and she asks Fran to do her an unusual favour - find her husband a new woman for after she has gone. Fran isn't too keen but decides to help out her friend. One evening on a dating website, Fran comes across a shocking profile, one who looks scarily like her husband Max.

Fran sets about finding out the truth about "Footloose" but at what cost? Is Fran about to find out things she wished she'd left alone, and is she really willing to throw away her marriage?

Rating: 5/5

This book really drew me in, and its not often that a book does that to me. Yes, I want to read them and enjoy them, but this one had something about it that made me want to pick it up and devour it quickly. The cover wasn't anything special, looking quite feminine with its pinks and purples but the storyline sounded very interesting to me. Initially I drew comparisons with another novel along the same lines by Lucy Dawson called "His Other Lover", but luckily for me this book turned out to be far better written and more enjoyable than Dawson's efforts. I started the book as soon as I got it home, and read it in just 2 days which shows how much I really did enjoy it.

One thing for me that kept me reading were the characters. The book was written in the first person from the perspective of lead character Fran, a woman who seemed very real and likeable. For me, a likeable lead female is crucial in women's fiction because they have to carry the story through and keep the reader interested, and McPhee's Fran has definitely done this for me. Fran comes across as a normal woman struggling with her husband's deceit, and I felt for her throughout the book. McPhee writes her emotion incredibly well, putting on paper how we would all feel were this to happen to us, and it made for quite powerful reading in parts. Fran's narrative was easy to read, making it clear what was happening, her inner turmoil and just a generally good and enjoyable first person narrative.

Other characters in the book include Fran's husband Max, who we strangely don't see much of and this only encourages suspicion on the reader's part, which is cleverly done by McPhee. He's somewhat mysterious, as is Alison's husband Adam and this works well in the story. Alison is clearly the tragic character of the group, suffering terminal cancer and coming to terms with that. But the close friendship between Alison and Fran, and acceptance of their circumstances was incredibly touching and very poignant. The harsh reality of cancer has been made very clear lately with the death of Wendy Richards, and Jade Goody dying from cancer, and perhaps this is why this particular storyline struck such a nerve with me. Still, McPhee has done this story with dignity and a real grace, and the relationship between Alison and Fran is wonderfully written.

At just over 300 pages long, I felt the story had a good pace to it and kept me wanting to read on throughout. It didn't slow down at all, there were twists and turns along the way which threw me in a new direction and this is what I really enjoyed about this book. I was gripped right up until the end, and when I'd finished, I really felt like I'd been on an emotional rollercoaster. McPhee covers a lot of ground in this book, from cancer to infidelity and friendship, yet the novel is just a fantastic and enjoyable read that I am sure you'll struggle to put down. It's definitely "grown-up" fiction, and I thoroughly loved this book. The author's second novel The Runaway Wife is due out in September and I'll be looking to read that too, although this will be a hard act to follow. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. just read this and i finished it in a day! Absolutley brilliant, one of the best books ive ever read, full of twists and turns to keep you reading and completely 'un-putdownable' :-)