Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Crowded Marriage by Catherine Alliott

I'm really happy Sourcebooks is publishing British authors for the US.  I was in need of a book that would entertain and not be depressing, and I found it here.  Most people would think a novel that revolves around a woman who thinks her husband is cheating would be a bit depressing, but seriously--this was so full of funny scenes, self-deprecating humor, and that feeling that everything would be ok that it wasn't depressing at all.  It was a well-rounded chick-lit novel ( and I hate saying chick-lit, but there ya go).  

Imogene is married with a 9 year old son (Rufus), living in London with her husband and trying really hard to get back into her passion of painting.  Her next door neighbor Kate lives the good life--surgeon husband, loads of money, brilliant kids, and a full social calendar.  However, Imogene and Kate are good friends and enjoy sharing time together over a glass of wine, gossiping in the kitchen and having great discussions about everything under the sun.

But--Imogene's husband, Alex informs her that they just can't afford to live in London anymore, and they've been offered a small cottage rent free in the countryside.  Slight catch--this cottage is on the grounds of Eleanor's estate--and Eleanor is a gorgeous, rich woman that Alex has known since childhood, and had an affair with Alex while he was married to his first wife.  Uh oh.

Enter Imogene's anxiety, certainty Alex is cheating on her, and being thrown into the country and expected to help feed the chickens and cows that live near her cottage.  She's pretty much hopelessly lost and this provides a lot of funny moments as the townie meets the country.  

But--Imogene's painting takes on a new, fresh life, and she soon finds that living in the country isn't so bad.  If only she could trust Alex.

This is a big part of the novel, but there's so much going on that while it is important, it's kinda hard to dwell on it.  After all, Alex isn't a bad character--he's rather like-able and you can understand Imogene's struggle to trust or not to trust her husband.  Toss in misunderstandings, lack of confidence, and just not listening to people, and there's a comedy of errors all through this novel.  There's also an underlying lesson in this story:  listen to your inner voice; and don't ignore things just because they are unpleasant.  

I certainly liked this novel, and was pleased to discover I have another of her novels sitting on my bookshelf:   A Rural Affair.  You can bet I'll be tucking into that book soon.  

So:  cheating husband?  Maybe.  Frustrated housewife, thrust into the countryside, and afraid of cows?  Yep.  Lots of twists and turns in this novel, but all combine to make a fan out of me.  

Rating:  7/10; Just the kind of read I needed, entertaining characters with plenty of flaws, and lots of chickens.  And Rufus is just a darling little boy.

Available in paperback and as an e-book.

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