8 September 2010

Book Review: The Affair by Santa Montefiore

Children's book author Angelica is quite happy with her lot. She has a successful career, 2 beautiful children and a French husband who works hard for his family in the world of banking. They have a very comfortable existence, and although the excitement in her marriage has petered out a little, Angelica still feels lucky with her life. However, when she meets South African wine maker Jack, she doesn't expect to develop strong feelings for him, so much so that she is willing to risk her safe and stable family life just for a few moments of passion with Jack. But after they embark on their affair, something shocking happens that shocks Angelica to her very core and question everything she has done. Can Angelica put her marriage back together and save her family before it's too late?

This book was sent to me by the publishers for review, and I am actually very glad that it was because the cover and title would not at all inspire me to pick it up in a bookshop or a library, but I really would have missed out on a superb book. After a little bit of online research about the author Santa Montefiore who I confess to not having heard of before this book turned up on my doormat, I found she's actually written quite a few books in the romance genre, and her previous novel to The Affair, The Italian Matchmaker, was shortlisted for the RNA's Romance Novel of the Year award, so I had high hopes for The Affair despite the wishy-washy cover and non-descript title. Luckily for me, it wasn't a let down at all, in fact I loved it!

The books starts off introducing us to Angelica, and I knew I was going to like her straight away. We first see her with 2 children while getting ready to go out with her friends, and Montefiore has written her as a believable and realistic mother than a lot of people will be able to relate to. However, Angelica lives in a very privilege world so that's pretty much where my comparisons with Angelica ended, but even so she was still a fabulous character and I was curious to see if her actions with Jack would change my mind about her. I immediately disliked her husband because of the way he treated Angelica, and perhaps this was intentional on the author's part to make us feel much more sympathetic towards Angelica.

The book takes a little while to move into the main part of the story, but I enjoyed this because it really set up the background of it really well and made us understand Angelica's reasons for what happens, and how it wasn't such an easy decision for her to make to have an affair. As the book progresses and things move on, I became much more involved in the story, I couldn't wait to see if it was all going to turn sour for the lovers, or if they'd manage to keep their liaison a secret from their family and friends. It was fun too to see the change in the relationship between Angelica and her husband as events changed, and even though I knew Angelica was in the wrong, I didn't dislike her for what she was doing, because she seemed like a character who really deserved someone to love and cherish her.

Another great part of the book for me was Angelica's relationships with her friends. There was a small group of amount 4 women who were mentioned regularly throughout the group, and this added a real something to the book. Angelica's friendships with them all were fantastic to read about as it gave a break from the main love story, but it also showed how powerful and important friendships are. The friends were quite often light relief because they really do live in another world, but I think this was really needed and a great addition to the book as a whole.

For a while, the book moves over to South Africa, and I envy the author for the amazing research she must have done to write this part of the book! Montefiore's writing is so vivid that you can easily imagine all the things that Angelica experiences throughout the book, especially the sunsets that Angelica and Jack see together. We also get to envisage the vineyards that Jack's family run, as well as the cities and towns Angelica visits on her book tour, so it really is a journey through the country which is lovely to read about. The action in the UK is set in London, a rather affluent part of course, and that suits the book down to the ground.I have to mention the outfits that Angelica wears throughout the book as well. Brand names are bandied about quite easily and while that isn't usually something I like in a book, it fitted well here because of Angelica's lifestyle, and it was fun to image all the lovely outfits she was wearing along the way too!

Montefiore has a knack of writing so emotively and vividly you really do get absorbed by the words on the page and you just won't want to put this book down once you've started it. I loved every single second and was gutted when it ended because I knew I wouldn't be visiting Angelica and Jack again. There are several extremely shocking twists and turns along the way in this book, and while they seemed so out of place when you initially read them, it really does ground the story and bring you back to earth with a thud. Despite it's title, The Affair is a beautiful story of forbidden love and was a delight to read from start to finish. I will most certainly be hunting out more of Santa Montefiore's work to read now I've finished this superb novel, and I look forward to uncovering more gems like this book.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Is this book out in the shops now?

  2. The paperback is out on Sept 16th, but the hardback is out now.

  3. I love Santa's work and was not disappointed by her latest ! Find out more about Santa and her work on the Santa Montefiore Appreciation Group on facebook in which Santa is an active member. If you enjoyed The Affair try Meet Me Under The Ombu Tree, it's a beautiful read :))

  4. I'm not sure whether it's the 'done thing' to write in response to a review, but I was so thrilled to read such a positive one that i feel compelled to thank you! I'm interested in your thoughts on the title, as it's called The Perfect Happiness in the US, which might be a better title - I totally agree with your thoughts on the cover - sadly I have no say, but wishy washy is an understatement. Anyway, thank you for writing such nice things about the book and I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it. I loved writing it and am now editing the next, due out August 2011. Best wishes to you and your team at Chiclitblog and my hearfelt thanks!! Santa Montefiore

    1. I am really frustrated though because I can't remember who had the birth mark so don't know who Kate's lover was!

  5. I just wanted a book on my bedside for when bored, but as soon as I started reading I couldn't put it down! I fell inlove with it, sitting in my pjs with a cup of coffee and the book for the WHOlE day! I live in Cape Town and it was SO cool to read about my own surroundings in such a beautiful book. It was more close to reality. SA is not just about crime. I'm still inlove with the Mother city. The book is a definite must!

  6. Jonathan Philemon28 June 2011 at 12:33

    I actually saw a manuscript a few years ago and it's almost identical.... in fact jus a few names and places changed...

  7. It's a good novel to read, but I am disturbed about the deeper picture of displaying infidelity in such a positive light when there is so much to loose. I do believe falling in love is a beautiful thing but sleeping with another person behind the back of your caring/loving partner is cruel, even in fiction.

  8. I was looking forward to reading this book as I live very close to the vineyards in Franschhoek.
    But by page 104 I had had enough of the up market brand naming and started wondering if there were royalties for mentioning Stella Mc Cartney, Rupert Sanderson, Vanessa Bruno etc.
    We had already read that were well to do families from Kensington, London.
    This was terribly annoying and distracted from the storyline.

  9. I found it hard work - because of the typical fake women, with their botox etc. - sorry,this woman has to write for real people and not the life she lives.