I almost feel as if I’ve ‘grown up’ as a reader with Lisa Jewell. When I wanted chick-lit (I’m not keen on the label but you’ll know what I mean by it), she gave me Ralph’s Party, Vince and Joy, One Hit Wonder, and more, all terrific stories with real-life characters. Then I noticed a shift towards weightier issues such as donor babies and obsessional behaviour; in other words, books to make you think, and for me that’s the hallmark of a good story. You don’t close the book, or shut down the Kindle, and instantly forget about it. You take something from it that relates to your own life, think about the characters, why they behaved as they did, and wonder what is in store for them in their life beyond the last page. The Third Wife is one such book.
This is the story of three families, irrevocably linked by the common denominator: Adrian, the central character. Adrian’s three marriages have ended in divorce from wives one and two, while the third, Maya, died in mysterious circumstances. Did Maya take her own life? Did somebody else have a hand in her death? What exactly happened on the night she died? This is the main premise of the book, while Adrian’s ex-wives and children provide a rich seam of sub-plots by telling the story from their own viewpoint.
When Adrian divorced wife number two, Caroline, and married Maya he imagined she would fit into the narrative he’d constructed and life would continue much as before. Smug? Yes, probably, but although I could have shaken him several times, I couldn’t help liking him, which is testament to the author’s skills as on the face of it, he isn’t exactly somebody you’d admire. It is only after his third wife’s death that Adrian comes to realise that what he has left behind him is not one big, jolly family, but a mess of unhappy people.
Lisa Jewell’s keen observations of human behaviour and her astuteness in the way she presents her characters really come to the fore in this book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and the story delivers its promise, right to the very end. Do read it if you can.
Our next visit to the book group will be on 27th January, when HMB author Rachael Thomas will be reviewing The Oddest Little Chocolate Shop by Beth Good. Mmmm, chocolate….
And as this is our last post of 2014, may I thank everyone who has read our bloggy offerings during the year, and left so many lovely comments. The Write Romantics wish you and your nearest and dearest a very happy new year.