24 March 2011

Book Review: An Ideal Wife by Gemma Townley

Jessica Wild-Wainwright is happy at last. She seems settled, married to her gorgeous husband Max who seems to love her more than ever and has a great job in Advertising that she actually enjoys and is good at. However, Jessica is still hiding a secret from Max about her money and her ex-friend Hugh, and she's determined to make sure Max never finds out about it, so sets about becoming the Ideal Wife. She sets herself targets to complete from learning to cook to volunteering at the homeless shelter once a week, but as with Jess, nothing is ever easy. Not to mention the odd trunk that Ivanka is wanting her to urgently hide, and the annoying audit at work which seems to come at the worst time for Jessica and Max. Will she be able to become the Ideal Wife or are her secrets going to get in the way of her secret mission?!
This is Gemma Townley's third novel in her Jessica Wild series, and having loved the first two novels, I was really excited to read this one. I love that the covers all match, all follow suit with their blank faced characters and bold use of colour, and certainly look good together on a shelf. This one is styled in blue, and at just over 250 pages, isn't a long book at all, but that didn't bother me too much as I find long books can drag on and bore me a bit.  It has been a while since the release of the last book, but I was sure it wouldn't matter too much and that I would be able to slip back in with these characters fairly easily as I seem to with other series' that I read in the genre.

Sadly, it wasn't to be as good as the previous books, and by the time I turned the last page, I was quite glad it was finished to be honest. It started well, rejoining Max and Jess in their marriage with everything happy,  besides the secret blackmail Jess is hiding of course. I find both of the characters very likeable and easy to read about, they are well written and because the book is written in the first person from Jessica's point of view, we get to know her the best and her thoughts on any given scenario occuring at the time. This, however, created a problem because I found that the scenario's were utterly ridiculous, Jessica became unlikeable because of her over-dramatisation and therefore I completely began to lose interest in the book.

There was a bit of a silly sub-plot to do with Max and Jessica, and his nurse Emily when he ends up in hospital (after another ridiculous incident of course). This frustrated me no end as it just seemed to go nowhere for so long and seemed to be there just to serve as another thing to get Jessica riled up and even more paranoid and consequently even more annoying. Also, the story with Ivana the Russian stripper, her trunk and the Russian mafia was just ludicrous and I almost skipped those scenes altogether because it was just so stupid and out of place in the whole book. This just annoyed me no end because it really was too silly to be taken seriously and just brought down the whole tone of the book, it left me quite annoyed and I had to leave the book for a bit while I had a break.

The writing itself is okay, but it certainly didn't feel as good as I remember from the previous books - whether this is because I was annoyed by the characters and story I don't know, but something just didn't flow for me. Helen, Jessica's best friend is a great character as usual and I wish there was more of her in the book, as well as her PA Caroline and her gay best friend Giles. Yet unfortunately these good characters seem to be pushed aside in favour of the more ridiculous ones such as the auditor Eric. As I mentioned, it did start so well with these good characters but quickly descended into a chaos that I struggled to follow, and the end scene, which ran for about 70 LONG pages could have been half that and made far better. It just seemed to drag on and on to the point where I really didn't care anymore about the resolution.

If you have loved the books in this series previous to this book, I have to say I am loathed to recommend this book to you because it by no means does justice to its fantastic predecessors. Jessica Wild-Wainwright has gone from being a sassy singleton to a neurotic, crazy and paranoid character that seems to thrive on ridiculous plot twists and turns, and consequently has adopted an extremely annoying narrative that isn't fun to read throughout the book. I was really disappointed by this and could have easily thrown the towel in at certain points but kept going because I just had to see how it would all end. I hope with her next book Townley goes back to a formula that actually works such as in her previous works because for me, despite a few glimmers of hope, this book fell very flat and was a big disappointment. What a shame if this is the end to what has been a really enjoyable book series.

Rating: 2/5

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you did the review before I bought this, I haven't actually read any of these books but had decided to start with this one not sure why though. I'm glad you changed my mind. Thanks chole!