27 June 2011

Book Review: The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen

Sally Islip has been having an affair with Clive, a friend of the family for over 5 years now, and is well and truly in love with him. So when Clive suddenly decides that their affair has to end, and that he is now going to be the perfect husband to long-suffering wife Susan. Sally isn't unhappy, and quickly her life begins to unravel as she struggles to adjust to life without Clive. So Sally decides to start keeping an eye on Clive and his family... walking past their family home to popping in the cafe where she knows his son Liam works. Then she starts following Susan and her daughter Emily on Facebook, all because she's a family friend of course, nothing sinister. But when Clive starts to turn on Sally, threatening her and telling her to back off and leave his family alone, Sally decides that she has to up her action and doesn't take heed to what Clive is saying, she's convinced revenge is the only way to get over Clive. Will the mistress get her revenge, or will it all end in tears?

This is author Tamar Cohen's debut novel and I'll be honest and say it isn't one that particularly interested me. However, I was sent a copy to review and decided to give it a go. The turquoise cover with the red roses is quite striking and is actually quite fantastic, and it would certainly intrigue me to pick up the book off a shelf. According to a few comments on Amazon, it's been billed as a modern day Fatal Attraction set in the 'Facebook era', something I can't really corroborate having never seen that film, but I did like the premise of it, and wondered how the author would go about constructing a story based on the revenge of a mistress without making her hated by the reader.
Funnily enough, Cohen doesn't really choose to make Sally a sympathetic character, and for the most part I absolutely hated her. She is a very selfish woman, very self-obsessed but equally as obsessed with Clive and his lifestyle, to the point of it being completely unhealthy. However, Cohen doesn't choose to shy away from Sally's obsession and it is this which drives the book and hooks you in, because you just have to see what this crazed woman is going to do next! Her narrative very much suits her character - rambling and confused and I think Cohen did a brave thing with how she chose to present Sally because she really isn't at all likeable. It isn't even the fact she had an affair with a married man that makes her mad, its the after actions that really marred her for me!

Clive, although he is a huge part of the book, oddly rarely appears at all. Occasionally, Sally will flashback to the times they were together and he appears then but in the present day he isn't around yet you still despise him because of how he treats women. Oddly, his wife Susan was far more prolific in the book, but the scenes between her and Sally often made for such uncomfortable reading because you just sense the awkwardness between them and for this all credit has to go to Cohen's writing - she creates this tension and bad feeling with such ease and it honestly makes you cringe as you read along, almost wanting to put it down and make it stop! Sally's children are in the book, but aren't written as very likeable children, although understandly so when you see the effect their mother is having on them. The same goes for Sally's husband Daniel, another meek character who sits in the background rather than facing up to his problems. Overall the cast of the book is very varied, but makes for a great story.

It's written in the form of a journal, intended to be read by Clive and therefore makes for interesting reading. There are no chapters whatsoever to break the book up, it is one long 350 page rant at Clive, and is pretty hard going at times. I kept waiting for a natural break so that I could put it down but struggled to do so, instead having to pick a moment I thought would be good to rest and be able to pick it up at next time. I can see a lot of people will not like the writing style of this, especially those who don't like first person narrative but the constant referrals to Clive and addressing someone who isn't there is peculiar but it didn't take too long for me to adjust to it and by the end I quite liked it!

As I said at the beginning, this wasn't a book I would have picked up to read myself but now I am so glad that I gave it a chance because it was a really different read and one I very much enjoyed. There is something about reading about someone's revenge on someone that has wronged them which makes it very compulsive and addictive to read - you have to keep turning the pages to see which awful thing is going to happen next, and how the wronged person is going to justify it to themselves this time around! Reading Sally fall apart in front of your eyes is strange, but the book is well written, enjoyable and makes the most of its narrative to set the scene and atmosphere easily. I would definitely recommend this book, highly enjoyable!

Rating: 4/5

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


  1. I'm looking forward to this book!

  2. It's out now Kat :)

  3. Glad you gave the book a chance. I really enjoyed it and also hated the main character.