8 September 2009

Book Review: Other People's Husbands by Judy Astley

Sara Blythe-Hamilton has been married to her much older husband Conrad for many years now, and the pair have settled into a happy life together. Their daughters are now grown up, one a mother herself, and Sara is loving being an art teacher again. But Conrad starts to worry Sara when he begins to start talking about the end of his life and stopping his beloved painting. Sara doesn't know what to make of it, so when hunky Ben starts to show an interest in her at the art school, Sara allows herself to reciprocate the attraction, and feels rather guilty about it too. What is Conrad really planning, and is Sara going to give into her desires for Ben?

Somehow I haven't yet read a Judy Astley book, despite the fact that she has written 14 previous books! If I am honest, perhaps the covers of the older books have put me off because they aren't something that I would usually pick up in a shop, and perhaps the publishers have picked up on this as they have redesigned the cover for the paperback release of Other People's Husbands. It does look a lot more modern and fresh, so I'm pleased they have chosen to do this. Anyway, back to the book...

The book follows the main character of Sara for the majority of the book, although it does deviate to follow her husband and daughters for small portions of the book at times too. The narration is in the third person which I think suits this particular book and I found Judy's writing very easy and pleasant to read. There's no really bad language or sex in the book so it's not a book that will offend in anyway, and I would definitely class it more as Women's Fiction than chick-lit.

The characters themselves were all very good and well written, and each took a different view of the story which offered a good change of direction for the book occasionally. However, my main problem with this book is the main character. Sara is in her forties, and Conrad is in his sixties so I found it very hard to relate to these two characters. The novel mainly follows Sara and the fact I couldn't relate to her became more of an issue as I read on. I liked her enough to want to find out what was going to happen at the end but I wasn't riveted.

I also found that the book moved at a fairly slow pace and sometimes not much happened from page to page. Astley went into the head of Sara quite a bit, trying to analyse her thoughts and make sense of her feelings for both Conrad and Ben, but it left me a bit cold because it just seemed to amble on for pages without seeming to get anywhere. It was more emphasised by the better scenes in the book which were very readable and interesting, but it just made the slower parts seem even more lethargic.

This was one of those books that although it wasn't a thrilling page-turner, it was a pleasant enough read  but it probably is aimed at an older readership than me. I did enjoy the story but it was very slow paced compared to other books I have written, and by the end I didn't think enough had happened, and what had happened did so in the last few pages, and then abruptly ended! Speaking of the ending, I enjoyed that part and there was a scene which made me gasp, but I wish it had been like throughout the book! A well written and intriguing story, although it's a book that would probably appeal more to a maturer reader than me!

Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review.

Rating: 3/5



  1. I love the cover, shame the book didn't seem to live up to it!

  2. I read Other People's Husbands last year when it was first published and loved it. I particularly liked it because the heroine was older and very real. And Conrad was a great character who seemed ageless, despite being worried by (in his own mind) his imminent death. Most of Judy's heroines are older – but they nearly always have teenage children to give a younger point of view. I've read all of Judy Astley's novels and enjoy her social commentary – she's always on the button. But you're right, they're not Chick Lit, they're much better than most of that genre. I guess they're aimed at a different market.

  3. I was tempted to read this one too because I really, really, really like the cover, but I figured it wasn't really my cup of tea since the characters are apparently old, like 50+ kind of old, and I just couldn't relate to that. The cover's still gorgeous though!

  4. I understand that some books aren't for some people, but if we had to relate to everyone all of the time we would miss out on so many good books. I occasionally read books that are YA and they are usually with a teenage protag and yet I can still thoroughly enjoy the story, even with the age difference. I don't usually see the age as a barrier but more the experiences of the characters involved, so age doesn't really bother me. It's a shame so much emphasis is put on age as I'm sure there are many fantastic reads out there that people are missing if this is the criteria they are using for not reading a book.

    I will be interested in how I view this book as I also have it for review. Will let you know! :)

  5. I don't deny it was a good story, it was just that I felt it plodded along a bit too slowly for me, and not being able to relate to the characters didn't help. I've read lots of books with older main characters and loved them, so perhaps it was just a combination of factors that stopped me giving it higher than 3.... anyway 3 to me is still good, it was fine but just not for me!

  6. To Bookalicious.. Just to say that the characters aren't at all 'old'. Sara is barely in her 40s but happens to be married to someone much older. If you think 40 is 'old' then you have a very limited friend-demograph.
    Their daughter figures very prominently too and is only 22. Part of the idea of the book was to explore how emotional experiences when you're supposedly mature don't differ much from when you are younger. If you don't believe me.. just wait, age a little, and see.
    I like to have a wide age range in my books because I don't think the world revolves round the 20-somethings, lovely as they are. Readers, after all, come in all ages too, thank goodness! xxx