It’s an absolute pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Other Woman by Amanda Brookfield, and sharing my review: published on 13th October by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback, and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
Do you know, I could have sworn that I’d read one of Amanda Brookfield’s books before – but I can’t find a review, so I might be mistaken. But I do know that a few years ago – when I decided I would never get round to reading all those books on my shelves when I always read on kindle – there were a number of Amanda’s books among those I donated to Wetherby library. I’ve always been convinced I’d enjoy her writing – and I’m delighted to report that I was absolutely right…
‘No one gets to the heart of human relationships quite so perceptively as Brookfield.’ The Mirror
On a normal day, in a normal house, on a normal street, wife and mother Fran has had enough. She packs a case, leaves a note for her bullying husband Pete, and one for her beloved twenty-year-old son Harry, and heads to the airport – and freedom.
In another house, on another street, Helena is desperately baiting her husband Jack into a fight. These days it feels like the only way to get Jack to take notice of her. Passionate, volatile, increasingly fragile, Helena is fast running out of hope.
What Helena and Fran don’t know, is that soon their lives are going to come crashing together in ways neither expect nor understand. And if Fran and Helena are going to change their own futures, then first they will have to change each other’s.
Amanda Brookfield is back with a triumphant, crackling story about love, marriage, lies and fate, and how our destinies can be changed by the smallest decisions. Perfect for fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Jane Fallon and Jane Green.
I really love it when a book draws me in from the very first page – this time, I was entirely engaged by Fran’s clear voice as she flees her toxic marriage for a new life in Madrid with her lover Jack. She tells us she’s not a risk taker, but life with her husband Pete, on that knife edge where she does all she can not to attract his anger, has become increasingly unendurable.
You sweat with her as she wrestles her suitcase to the station, then through the airport – and await the arrival of the man who’s promised her a new life. And then, you follow her home again – back to her prison of a marriage, where her husband becomes increasingly coercive and unpredictable, awaiting that trigger that could make things many times worse.
She’s sympathetic and relatable, entirely real, a woman you get to know well and like very much – but there’s always that edge to her story that makes you fear the inevitability and impact of what will follow. Things do come to a head – the scene thoroughly shocking and exceptionally well handled – followed by a decision that almost had me on my feet, cheering.
And then the point of view changes – I’ll admit I did find it a bit of a wrench at first – and instead we get to know Helena, Jack’s wife, and follow her over an overlapping timeframe. She’s more difficult to like – her relationship with alcohol, her flashes of anger, her irrational behaviour, and her desperation to hang on to the husband who most certainly rarely makes her happy. First person again, but with rather less appeal for the reader – although her story is compelling, and your empathy steadily grows as her story builds.
The third part of the book brings the stories of Fran and Helena together – Fran’s first person viewpoint again – and we look at the “afterwards” for both women, and what the future holds for them both. This is a story layered with secrets and lies, shocks and surprises – and I really loved both the way it was constructed and the writing itself. There’s a strong focus on the support of friends – Helena has Hugh, Fran has Mel – and family, but those relationships also have their own complications.
Emotionally, the whole book is absolutely spot on – when the characters hurt, you hurt too – and it very much puts you through the wringer at times. But there are moments of joy, and ultimately it’s hopeful and uplifting – but my goodness, it’s quite a journey getting to that point.
I’m a big fan of relationship-based drama, and this is one of the best I’ve read in a while. A definite recommendation from me.
About the author
Amanda Brookfield is the bestselling author of many novels including Good Girls, Relative Love and Before I Knew You, and a memoir, For the Love of a Dog starring her Golden Doodle Mabel. She lives in London.