I have to sheepishly admit that when I opted in for War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen I didn’t read the publisher’s description as thoroughly as I normally do. I actually thought this was a story about a current wife and an ex-wife. I could think about all kinds of cat-fight kinds of things that could evoke, and I guess I was in an odd mood that day, because normally I don’t like to read about those kinds of dynamics. When I picked the book up to read it, I was actually relieved to discover it was about something else entirely. There’s nothing like two women scorned to make for an interesting read. Two women get an up close and personal look at loyalty, deception, betrayal, and how life can change in an instant. How will they be changed by that? I’m paying it forward with a giveaway of the copy I received because I really want to share this novel with at least one lucky reader…so be sure to enter!
Simon Busfield has just passed away and that life event that comes to all at some point has left a huge mess for the living to clean up.
Selina Busfield and Simon Busfield have been married for twenty-eight years. They have three grown and almost grown children, Felix, Flora, and Josh. Their family lives a quiet life in a beautiful home in the suburbs of London. Selina is the kind of woman who always seems so well put together, the epitome of the perfect image of a wife and mother. She may seem a bit stand-offish or cool to some, maybe even a bit prudish, but I’ve given her the benefit of the doubt and decided that’s just because she’s very contained, a person who likes things just so. Selina’s relationship style has worked quite well for the couple, at least until Simon died.
Here are a couple of quotes that gives you glimpses into Selina’s personality:
“’You always look immaculate,’ says the woman in the [gym] changing room. ‘It puts me to shame. I feel like a complete mess in comparison.’
Oh, Lord. Clearly what I should do at this point is to disagree warmly or say something self-deprecating but the truth is she does look a mess…I don’t mean to be unkind, but obviously she has money or she wouldn’t be here in the first place, so presumably she must have chosen to wear that top…’Nonsense, you look perfectly nice.’
Which, as everyone knows, roughly translates to ‘Oh dear God.’…
“Kindness costs nothing,’ I used to drum into my three children as they were growing up. Oh, hypocrisy, thy name is Selina Busfield!”
“’Am I invisible?’ I call after him [Josh]. ‘Mute? Do I even exist?’
I’m not being entirely facetious, either. More and more, I find myself wondering if I exist outside of my children’s occasional need for me. Rather, I know I exist, as an amoeba or mold exists. But existing with purpose. That’s the thing.”
Lottie Busfield and Simon Busfield have been married for seventeen years. Lottie is, in many ways, the opposite of Selena. She’s creative, spontaneous, and quirky. Lottie and Simon live in a colorful, small London apartment with their moody teenage daughter, Sadie. Lottie doesn’t believe in constraints, so their lifestyle is chaotic, filled with emotion, and has a decidedly free-style feel to it. It’s also full of trusting openness, at least on Lottie’s part. And it’s worked beautifully, almost serendipitously, at least until Simon died.
Here’s a quote that says a lot about to me about Lottie and Simon’s relationship:
“’You’ll wind up being his carer,’ my mom charmingly pointed out when I rang to confess we’d got married on a beach in Goa [India], with just a couple of newly made friends for witnesses. That was another thing that bothered my mum.
‘Why couldn’t you get married in a church like normal people?’
I did try to explain how Simon had been engaged once to a woman who’d made such a song and dance about the bloody wedding that he’d been put off them for life. That’s partly why he was so relieved to meet me, because I’ve never been one of those big-white-meringue-dress kind of girls. While I’ve always loved owning nice things, I never wanted to own a husband, not even a nice one…We probably wouldn’t have even bothered to get married at all if we hadn’t been living in Dubai, where you really don’t want to go having a baby out of wedlock.”
You see, Selena and Lottie have had no idea that they are both married to the same man until he’s found floating in the Thames. And they can’t even do anything to get back at him for this hugest of all betrayals because he’s dead. Dammit doesn’t even begin to cover it!
Selina learned about Simon dying when the police showed up at her doorstep and asked her to come to the station to identify the body. Selina doesn’t think it could possibly be Simon since he’s on a trip in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Selina is wrong.
Lottie finds out when someone she used to know, Chris, calls to offer his condolences, which she thinks is a really sick joke since Simon’s on a trip in the Middle East. Lottie also doesn’t believe it because surely the police would have contacted her about making funeral arrangements. Then Chris says he’ll send her the funeral details – huh?!? How could there be funeral details if she, his wife, didn’t make them?
And, being the evil book reviewer that I am, this is where I’m going to stop.
Selina and Lottie may be radically different but I found myself liking both of them very much, for very different reasons. They don’t just have to process the grief of losing a husband but the anger at his betrayal and the reality of their two families of half-siblings – and their connection to a man they both loved before they knew the truth. How they work through that makes for one hell of a rollercoaster ride.
I thoroughly enjoyed War of the Wives and it was hard to put it down when the paintbrush and power tools were calling their renovation siren song. Oh, and did I mention that not only is it a very cleverly written story but it’s got a twisty ending? *insert evil reviewer snickers* I’m glad I finally get to share it with you and I’m glad one of you will win it in this pay-it-forward giveaway!
Can’t wait to read it?
War of the Wives was published on January 27, 2015, so it’s available from your favorite online bookseller below (or in the right column for iBooks).
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One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance readers copy) of War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 5/30/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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