Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Format: E-bookthesilentwife.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Penguin Books
Hero: Todd Gilbert
Heroine: Jodi Brett
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: June 25, 2013
Started On: December 12, 2016
Finished On: December 15, 2016

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison is one of those novels that has a deep impact on you in the way the story unfolds, and yet, when all is said and done it fails to deliver on many fronts. I picked this up on a whim, a friend of mine finished reading the book before I even began, and my interest got piqued by the bits and pieces that were shared about the book as the read progressed.

When I picked this up to read, I quite didn’t know what to expect, except for the fact that my interest was roused to a point where I just had to read it. The Silent Wife brings forth three main characters, Jodi Brett a psychotherapist, Todd Gilbert her partner of over 25 years, and Natasha Kovac, the woman who brings the house of cards tumbling down.

Jodi is well versed in the art of failed relationships, or perhaps relationships on the verge of failing. Patients who seek her help are in a major way looking for answers that surrounds broken relationships, or in certain cases, people happier with what is far from the accepted norm. There is the gay lawyer who feels remorse over hurting his wife and kid, who in fact wants to be “cured” of his gayness, and at the other end of the spectrum, the cheating suburban housewife who believes that her husband has no room to complain, and that the cheating actually add value to the marriage.

What struck me the most from the onset was how Jodi had this need for a life that was under her control in many ways. Even though she is a psychotherapist who should in fact know better, her mind is a  constructed  fortress within which she lives, the facade of perfection which in reality is what she holds onto more than anything else.

While Todd had always wanted kids, Jodi had refused over the years, and that too had driven a rift between the two which Jodi doesn’t clearly see for what it is. Todd’s actions are hardly commendable either. Having grown comfortable in the way Jodi sees to all his needs and makes a home for him, his dalliances had never been tested until Natasha becomes his newest conquest.

Natasha is a line crossed in more ways than one. And when the inevitable happens, Todd is willing to give up the life he had had with Jodi for more than 20 years in order to try his hand at a life he thinks he wants above everything else. In the end it is Jodi’s actions that keeps the story twisting and turning in directions that leaves the reader wanting to know more, her past one that was never properly shed light on, but left behind hints of abuse that could have explained in a major way where she was coming from.

In the end, after all the edge of the seat variety moments, towards the latter half of the book, the story got bogged down in so much unnecessary detail that I kept skim reading to reach the bits and pieces that I wanted to read. The end when it came, delivered what something that totally ruined an otherwise what could have been a great read.

Final Verdict: Bogged down in unnecessary detail, and yet The Silent’s Wife’s saving grace lies in the fact that it is somehow unputdownable.

Favorite Quotes

People live their lives, express themselves, and pursue fulfillment in their own ways and in their own time. They are going to make mistakes, exercise poor judgment and bad timing, take wrong turns, develop hurtful habits, and go off on tangents. If she learned anything in school she learned this, courtesy of Albert Ellis, father of the cognitive-behavioral paradigm shift in psychotherapy. Other people are not here to fulfill our needs or meet our expectations, nor will they always treat us well. Failure to accept this will generate feelings of anger and resentment. Peace of mind comes with taking people as they are and emphasizing the positive.

Love after all is indivisible. Loving one more doesn’t mean loving another less. Faith is not a construct but something you carry inside you.

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ARC Review: The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman

Format: E-bookthereplacementwife
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impulse Australia
Hero: Luke
Heroine: Luisa
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication: September 1, 2015
Started On: August 25, 2015
Finished On: August 26, 2015

I truly became his the day he sent me a line from a John Donne poem: more than kisses, letters mingle souls.

Rowena Wiseman’s The Replacement Wife, though it might come off as a humorous chic lit sort of story by its description is hardly that. I guess this is my first Contemporary Fiction novel too, and though there is a humorous tinge to the layout of the story, it delves with an issue that few authors will write so candidly about. Adultery. Straying from your partner. Why people begin to look for a way out when a long term relationship or marriage turns dull and passionless.

Luisa and Luke have been married for almost 12 years. With their son Max in tow, Luisa and Luke’s life is a typical page out of how long term relationships can go wrong, without one even realizing that its happening. Luisa receives the wake up call when she meets Jarvis, one of her long ago crushes. One thing leads to another and before long, Luisa and Jarvis have professed their love for each other.

Though Luisa doesn’t allow the physical aspect of hers and Jarvis’ relationship to proceed, emotionally, she cheats on Luke in every foreseeable manner. And then Luisa comes up with the perfect plan. Find her husband a woman he would fall in love with and then she would finally be able to move on with Jarvis, with zero guilt.

After many a hilarious antic by Luisa, when her plan finally kicks off, the consequences of her actions certainly brings forth the kind of emotions she thought she would no longer feel towards her husband. With a bittersweet ending to it, The Replacement Wife definitely is not for the judgmental, the ones who think that the perfect mates are angels sent from heaven.

I applaud Rowena Wiseman for putting this story out there. It must not have been easy to write, because even though this book is highly readable, the material in it is one that pricks and pokes at you, makes you think along lines that you would never want to, unless you are someone who is willing to push the boundaries, all the time. Looking at some of the reviews already up on Goodreads, some readers admit that this book actually made them uncomfortable. So no surprises that this book has received low ratings from them.

Like I said, this book is not for everyone. Luisa and Luke’s relationship or the lack of one, when it comes to light, is sort of heartbreaking. Theirs is a passionless existence. The mundaneness of life had broken their relationship well and good. Luisa’s emotional and sexual needs remain unseen to. Luke remains adamant that he is a good husband, just that Luisa wants it all – things that he has no inclination now to give.

I couldn’t bring myself to hate Luisa for what she did. I understood her. I felt for her. I actually felt bad for her because a passionless relationship is hard for someone who wants more. Who yearns for that spark in their lives. For Luke, it is just the opposite. He is content with what he has with Luisa and Max. This is a question I’ve asked on occasion. If you have never truly tasted the volatility and beauty of passion, how do you judge someone who has, for wanting that?

Luisa believes that Jarvis is that man for her. The man who would sweep her off her feet, fulfill her physical and emotional needs. It was painful to see her ask from Luke, to see her try and provoke him into feeling something. Anything. And when Luisa’s plan works and gives that jolt to Luke, their marriage becomes infused with the energy that had been missing from it for so long, and that is when Luisa comes to the realization that she had lost it all.

Perhaps in the end, Luisa got what she deserved. While Luke got the better end of the deal if you ask me, I liked the story for its ability to make me think. Think hard. About life choices, about how much work it is to actually keep any relationship, let alone a marriage alive, especially after kids enter the picture.

Luke wasn’t a bad husband per se. But the fact that he couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to reach out to his wife, to realize just how bad things were in their relationship, that signals just how dead he was inside as well. I don’t think many would appreciate the candid honesty of Rowena’s voice in this novel. I loved it. It was definitely refreshing to see the side of ‘relationships’ that most authors would definitely not want to write about.

No one likes reading about adultery, unless it comes with a ton of forbidden fruit material with it. But I believe Rowena Wiseman’s take on the issue is insightful, to say the least. If you are squeamish about stories that deal with cheating, this is definitely not for you. But if you’d like to read something that would make you think and view the world just a tad more realistically, give The Replacement Wife a try. It just might teach you a thing or two.

Final Verdict: Honest & at times brutal in its depiction, digs deep into why we stray when we stray.

Favorite Quotes

I sat on the single chair and watched him, wondering how we had drifted so far from each other. He was like a business partner living in my house. He liked us to make all of the decisions about Max together; it was parenting by committee. I couldn’t buy a new winter quilt for Max without getting Luke’s sign-off on the warmth rating and choice of material first. He liked input into the choice of washing detergent, the ply of the toilet paper, the home-cooked meals for the week. We talked about all of these things, but we no longer talked about ourselves: about our hopes, our dreams, our passions, our fears. We had nothing left between us as people. We were just decision-makers.

I thought about Ben, who’d had an affair on Trish two years ago, and how much I’d despised him, how I’d thought Ben was such a low-life bastard. But now I felt like maybe I understood Ben’s perspective. I realised that people don’t make decisions to have an affair lightly; it happens with a lot of angst and soul-searching. Perhaps I should have applauded Ben’s bravery, his sense of adventure and inability to settle for an unsatisfying long-term relationship. So many people settle for misery; you hear of those couples that break up after thirty years of an unhappy marriage, after the kids move out of home. Those are the people who deserve our damnation, not the ones who are brave enough to make a great escape before their breasts go as flat as roadkill.

He said he’d wait for me; I could take my time. He said he knew that we were born to be together, that it would happen when the time was right, and if it wasn’t right yet he would wait.
Sometimes he didn’t say much at all, he simply sent me a link to a song, a quote from a book he was reading, an image of a work he was sketching. I truly became his the day he sent me a line from a John Donne poem: more than kisses, letters mingle souls.

I was an editor, in love with words, and his words had been the most precious I had ever read. They had transcended reality, dug a hole in my head, and planted seeds of what my life could be like with someone who could write such words. But could that someone ever have lived those words fully with me? Probably not.
I ran my fingers over those scattered pieces of gold tinsel on the ground. They had dropped off, become detached, lost their shine, gotten splattered by mud. Those fallen pieces of tinsel were me. I rescued two strands and put them in my handbag.

Last week I saw a new sculpture of Jarvis’s in the Venice Biennale on It was a red tinsel zombie, smaller than usual. In front of the zombie were large silver letters, Emily Floyd-style, saying More than kisses, letters mingle souls. My heart tumbled in dirty laundry. Perhaps I had meant something to him after all? Maybe he did remember everything, too? Maybe this was his way of reaching out to me? But then I saw a small 3D word to the side of the work, a reference. I zoomed in to see what it said. Instead of John Donne, it was the word Done. It was his last goodbye to me. And silver scissors snipped me free from the golden tinsel I’d been hanging onto for years.

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