1 December 2009

Book Review: The Good Divorce Guide by Cristina Odone

Rosie Martin thought everything was fine with her marriage to Jonathan, until she discovers a text on his phone that makes it clear he's having an affair. Rosie is shocked to find out Jonathan loves her, and he soon leaves their marital home to set up with Linda. They decide that they have to divorce, but want to remain friendly for the sake of the children.

As the divorce progresses, both Rosie and Jonathan realise they have to work harder at making their divorce a good one than they thought. When Rosie meets not one but two men that are interested in her, she's unsure what to do and if she should wait to find another man, or just try it out for size. Will Roie and Jonathan be able to have the good divorce they want, and accept each other's new partners once and for all?

I first came across Cristina Odone when I read her debut novel The Dilemmas of Harriet Carew last year, and to be honest it wasn't the best read of the year for me, I found it hard to sympathise with and didn't enjoy the read at all. Still, I was willing to give her another go, and so got a copy of her new book The Good Divorce Guide. It was a Sainsburys Book Club read last month, and it did sound like a good book so I hoped it would be an improvement on her debut. Odone also writes for newspapers too so has experience of writing, which makes it even stranger that I didn't like her writing style and couldn't get into her books at all.

I did find this one much easier to get into than Odone's debut but it didn't take much to be honest. I found immediately that the characters were much more likeable which was great, because unlikeable characters was the problem in The Good Divorce Guide. I really liked Rosie, you could see that she loved Jonathan very much and that she was going to end being dumped and heart-broken. I found it easy to sympathise with her and throughout the book I was egging her on hoping that she would find someone to make her happy. Its not long until new men start coming into Rosie's life but for me that's where the problems with the book started.

There were a few men characters coming in and out of the book, and if I'm honest, they all seemed a bit too similar and I didn't care much for either of them. One was a horrible doctor who seemed to be very petty and it wasn't clear for a lot of the time why he was always in such a bad mood. The other just seemed a bit bland to me and I wasn't at all sure why Rosie was attracted to him. There was a bit of a surprising scene with the next door neighbour that I felt was totally out of place and unnecessary in the book. It seemed Odone just put it there to shock her readers, but I thought it was a poor choice.

The writing style is the book is very easy to read, and I enjoyed Odone's narrative. Her character this time around are far better, with Rosie being a realistic and likeable character for the most part, and Jonathan being written in the horrible way that he's supposed to be.  I found the whole premise of Rosie being so desperate for a "good divorce" a bit too sickly sweet, especially when Jonathan and his bit-on-the-side were just rubbing it in Rosie's face. However, there is just something with this book that didn't quite sit right with me. Perhaps it was the unnecessarily positive spin on the end of a relationship that I wasn't in the mood for but I just wasn't fussed about finishing it and everything ending right.

I did actually think the ending was actually done quite well, even if it is a little predictable by the time you get halfway into the book itself. Odone has definitely improved on her debut novel with this effort, but there are still much better and more enjoyable books out there in the genre. I don't know - perhaps I am not Odone's target readership but while it's a good read, it is nothing amazingly special and certainly won't stick in my head for too long. It's written well enough, the characters are a definitely improvement on her first book and the story moves at a good pace, so pick it up if you have the time, but don't go to a great effort to do so. Average chick lit.

Rating: 3/5

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