28 October 2016

Book Review: The Missing Wife by Sheila O'Flanagan

"Have you ever wanted to disappear?

When Imogen Naughton vanishes, everyone who knows her is shocked. She has a perfect marriage. Her handsome husband treats her like a princess. She's always said how lucky she is. So why has she left? And how will she survive without Vince?

What goes on behind closed doors is often a surprise, and Imogen surprises herself by taking the leap she knows she must. But as she begins her journey to find the woman she once was, Imogen's past is right behind her...

Will it catch up with her? And will she be ready to face it if it does?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I love Sheila O'Flanagan's novels, and was super excited when her new book The Missing Wife was released this summer. I have to confess I wasn't initially drawn by the cover, it seemed a little bit generic for me, but now I've read the novel, it makes sense! However, despite my initial dislike for the cover, I knew the story inside would be brilliant, because Sheila never disappoints me, and she certainly didn't with this book, it was brilliant and completely absorbing from the beginning!

Imogen seemingly has it all. She's married to a successful man, with a happy marriage, a good job, nice lifestyle and good friends around her. So when she doesn't come home from a business trip, her husband Vince is sure there must be an explanation. But when Imogen doesn't return, it seems she really has vanished and her family are shocked and puzzled, it's totally out of character for to behave like this. Imogen has fled to southern France, to where she grew up, someone she is sure she won't be found. She is determined to start afresh and create a new life for herself. But when it seems Vince might be on her trail, will Imogen be able to keep herself hidden?

There was something really intriguing about this book from the very beginning. There was no initial explanation as to why Imogen decided to walk away from her entire life, not telling a soul where she had gone or why, and this carries on for a good portion of the book. When it is revealed, we do indeed begin to understand much more about Imogen and why she felt this was the only choice she had, and I enjoyed the pace with which this unfolded. I had myself imagining all sorts of things, so it was nice when the big reveal eventually came and I was pleased that one of my guesses was right! I also enjoyed how the narrative was split between Imogen and Vince, albeit in the third person. Therefore we get to see Imogen's side, but also how that affects Vince and everyone she has left behind, we do get a nice rounded look at everything.

As with all stories, things seem to fall into Imogen's lap much more so than I believe would happen in real life, but I love the escapism of books like this and how things usually work out nicely for the characters, especially the ones that deserve a bit of a break like Imogen! Pretty much the rest of the book is set in France, and the little village that Imogen ends up in sounds beautiful, you can see why she was so happy to settle down there. The locals, too, were kind and friendly, and very welcoming too, definitely a nice start for Imogen in her new home. I loved how she got stuck in to local life, happy to work hard and mingle too when it was needed.

I enjoyed the suspense feeling to the book when we feel like Vince might be getting close to locating his estranged wife - I was desperately hoping that he wouldn't be able to because we do see his true colours, and I found myself whizzing through to see how it was going to end for Imogen. I was certainly on tenterhooks for those final few chapters, it was utterly compulsive and I loved it! I felt this was quite different to other books I have read from Sheila in the past, but I found it refreshing and I really did enjoy it. The writing was wonderful, and I really enjoyed the descriptions of Imogen's new hometown, and her childhood home too. It all really came alive in mind as I read, and I felt like I was transported to the warm French village with Imogen and her new friends! An exciting and enjoyable read, I can definitely recommend it!

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