I read this lovely book – A Model Wife by Maggie Christensen, published in September/November 2018, and available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon in the UK and US – a few weeks ago, and my apologies for taking so long to write my review. Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of the author’s writing: you’ll find reviews here on Being Anne of both The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise, and Maggie was my guest here in November 2017 (you’ll find the interview here). My thanks to the author for my reading e-copy.
Former top model Celia Ramsay is determined to extricate herself from her bullying husband – a former football hero. Despite his despicable behaviour towards their daughters, Celia agrees to join her husband on the media campaign for his memoir in return for an advance on the divorce settlement. But what she hasn’t bargained for is the spate of sexual harassment allegations against her husband and the media fallout which threatens to affect her entire family, not to mention her own sanity.
Real estate developer Johnno Henderson has always been a commitment-phobe, preferring to have a string of young models on his arm. But, as he nears fifty, he’s beginning to long for something more permanent. On the brink of the biggest deal of his career, a chance meeting with a former top model stirs up feelings Johnno never thought he was capable of, if only his playboy reputation would stop following him around.
Can this unlikely couple make a future together?
I was really looking forward to reading this one – with both the previous books I’ve read by the author I’ve been so very impressed by her storytelling and her ability to create characters who were so real and with whom I could identify. If you’ve read Isobel’s Promise too – although you really don’t have to, this book is 100% a stand-alone – you’ll already know Celia: she was a secondary character in that book, with an engaging back story, and I really liked the way this book brings her into the forefront, and takes her story forward.
Her husband is a thug and a bully, making Celia’s life, as she attempts to make a life of her own, a misery: thank goodness for Johnno, and the possibility of a happier future for them both. Both Celia and Johnno are wonderfully drawn – they’ve both lived full and varied lives, bring the kind of baggage to their growing relationship that you could only expect, and I found the whole story, with its many twists and turns, both realistic and tremendously engaging. I very much liked the other threads to the story too – through Celia’s family there’s a focus on the same sex marriage debate and its impact, and I equally enjoyed (although maybe that’s not quite the right word) the way the #MeToo issue featured strongly.
I really love the way Maggie Christensen draws you into her stories, introduces you to her characters, then allows the story to unfold around you as the characters – who, by now, are now real people – live their lives, interact with their families and others, feel sadness and joy, make mistakes and win their small victories. The sense of place is quite superb too. Although I’ve never visited Sydney (or the Sunshine Coast), I just loved the detailed and vivid descriptions: they don’t take you away from the story, but increase the feeling of living in it. And the emotional authenticity of the story really made me feel for its characters – this was the real life story of people who captured my heart.
I’ve mentioned before the obvious appeal of the author’s books to the older reader: her characters wrestle with those everyday issues and choices that we’re all familiar with. But there’s nothing about this story that would make it any less appealing to a younger reader, especially if you enjoy the best of story-telling and believe in the possibility of fresh starts and second chances. I really enjoyed this one – another wonderful book from an author who’s now one of my firm favourites.
About the author
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.
From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!
She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound. A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.