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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The First Wife by Emily Barr

My second attempt at Book of the Week (Bookcase 12) was The First Wife by Emily Barr. This is a tale of a naive young girl who has been isolated from the world by living with her grandparents (even though she went to school presumably with other people, whose input to her life seems to have been zero).

This girl Lilly turns out to be something of an Ugly Duckling who becomes a Swan because not only is she very talented, but she is also beautiful - attributes which must have been overlooked all the time she was at school when she barely passed an exam and never even kissed a boy. She gets a cleaning job and soon attracts the attention of the local celebrity, a former soap actor now working as a lawyer. The adventure begins as Lilly gradually blossoms only to find that her new life isn't quite as perfect as she thought it was.

There is a secondary story of a man in New Zealand who finds out his wife is having an affair and leaves her, eventually moving to Barcelona. Inevitably the two stories eventually join up, but the Lilly story is the main thread of the book

The plot is fairly simple, but the book is 400 pages long, so it's quite drawn out and takes a long time to develop. The ending feels rushed as well, so I'd say the balance of the book is wrong. All the characters too are just so "nice", friendly and helpful. Even though one of the characters turns out to be a villain after all, that character even is presented in the book just like all the others until the latter pages. Emily Barr must really like people because she finds it hard to write a bad thing about them.

I suppose this book is a sort of fairly light suspense/mystery novel if I had to pigeon hole it (which I do as it's been presented as Book of the Week!). It's probably more aimed at women than men, the cover is certainly not something than men would be attracted to, I suspect. So once again I am different to the average reader of this book and respond in a different way to most of the target audience. That though is the whole point of this exercise, I am stepping out of my comfort zone. I award The First Wife 5/10, it's well written and easy enough to read but I'd prefer a more complex plot and slightly more plausible characters who aren't all so incredibly likeable!

Next up it's back to Bookcase 15 for the final Teenage book, Breaking Butterflies by "M Anjelais", who himself is a teenager I believe.

If so it's quite an achievement to be a published author at that age so I look forward to reading the book, it must be something special.

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