18 January 2012

Book Review: The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson

"Kate Forrest is invisible… Ned, the husband she adores, doesn’t seem to know she’s alive, and her two charming children have grown into stroppy adolescents. Her boss is suddenly shunting her towards career Siberia, and her demanding mother is never off the phone. With her fortieth birthday fast approaching, all Kate wants to do is run away from the lot of them. And so she does. On impulse, Kate walks out of her job, her family and her life, and gets on a plane to Italy. With no ties and no responsibilities, she soon finds herself deliriously caught up in La Dolce Vita – and the arms of a man barely half her age. But when the unthinkable threatens her family, Kate is brutally forced to choose between her past and the future."

Rating: 5/5

The thing I love about Tess Stimson's books is the controversial stories she always manages to cover - you never quite know what you're going to get when you begin one of Tess' books and how it's all going to end up for the characters involved too. Therefore, when I received a copy of Tess' new book The Wife Who Ran Away, I was really excited as it sounded like a good concept for a book, and I was curious about whether I'd hate the main character for actually running away, and doing what is socially very unacceptable to most people. I quite like the cover, I really like the blue highlights against a more sepia toned background, and think it's quite pretty. So why did I love this book so much?

The book begins with Kate, a self-confessed workaholic who literally works to pay the bills and provide for her family. She made the choice with husband Ned for him to be the stay-at-home parent and take care of their 2 children while she progressed in her career and made a good salary to look after the family. However, when their marriage starts to fall apart, and her career is on shaky ground, Kate has had enough and runs off to her friend's house in Italy, at first only intending an overnight stay. But it quickly snowballs and before she knows it, it looks like Kate's run out on her life, her marriage and her children, leaving them wondering where Kate has gone to. As I was reading, I was almost egging Kate on to respond to her feelings of guilt and return back home, and as she made decisions not to go, I was cringing and wondering how as a mother she could leave her children in the lurch like that.

Kate is a controversial character, but I think it is this fact that makes the book such compulsive reading. As a woman and a mum, I couldn't quite believe Kate actually did run away, not only that but she didn't tell anyone she was leaving or where was going, something I found quite shocking. I'm sure all mum's out there have feelings of wanting to escape and run away from the day to day drudgery that can be our lives, but I'm sure most of us would never act on it, yet Kate chooses to do this. The book portrays Kate's marriage as falling apart, and I found that I couldn't have much sympathy for her husband because of his attitude, and I felt as a house-husband he was actually a bit crap and needed a kick up the bum! However, there are issues here that we don't initially know about and as the book progresses, these become clear to the reader and things start to make a bit more sense. Kate's actions in Italy are still quite shocking as well, and I was surprised at the things she got up to myself, but it just serves to create Kate as a person, rather than just a mother and wife although I didn't agree with what she was doing.

As well as the main story of Kate's running away, there is the minor sub-plot of their son Guy and the terrible time he is having at school at the hands of bullies. This is quite a shocking story-line, and some of the things that occur did make me gasp, and it might be a bit hard to read for some. However, it's clear that Stimson has done her research and the story does take some surprising twists and turns along the way, almost eclipsing the main storylines in part, and I found myself really engrossed in this story. I found all the characters in the book were well written, from the young daughter to the adults all in awkward situations themselves. Each of them really does bring something to the book, and I enjoyed how Stimson chose to write it in alternating narratives, so we hear not only from Kate but also from her husband and son's points of view as well. It's a gripping book that will have you glued until the last page, and wondering exactly where life is going to go for Kate and her family now. I loved it!

You can buy The Wife Who Ran Away in both paperback and as an eBook now.

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