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My favourite book this month is a re-read. I loved this book SO much I dusted it off and got lost in the story again. I first read it last year, lent it to someone, then couldn't resist another read. Definitely the best book I've read this month, so here we go...
Before you read my review, I warn you, if you pick this book up, you won't want to put it down until you finish it, so clear your slate.
She is out of his life, but is she out of his heart?
I read in the back of the book (I'm someone who has to read Prefaces and Acknowledgements etc) that the author wanted to explore the position of the second wife, with all the variables in the relationship. Dorothea Koomson grabs you by the throat on the first page, and keeps hold of you all the way through, and shakes you at times.
Koomson is master of dribbling in the backstory in the most salient of places. The re-read helped me to make more sense of the inter-twined storylines. At times the POV is not easily decipherable as the author doesn't use names at the top. I admit I got a little annoyed when I had to really concentrate on what was happening to get the POV.
The main character, Libby, has a cosy life as a beautician, with a gorgeous husband Jack and a big home by the sea in Brighton, England. (The author paints the setting with gentle brushstrokes, which I love. Settings should be characters IMHO). But over time Libby is becoming more unsure if Jack has ever really loved her and if he is over the death of Eve, his first wife.
When fate intervenes in their relationship in the form of a car crash, Libby has to convalesce. Jack has a secret which Libby slowly remembers during her convalescence, so she decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve, the woman Jack had loved before, and obviously hasn't let go.
The ugly interview with the police after her injuries makes Libby question everything about her husband. There is a clever scene where Detective Sergeant Morgan is interviewing Libby after the accident where Jack describes his inquisitor: 'She is not ugly to look at, she is simply ugly to be around. They say beauty is only skin deep; ugliness, when it comes to this woman, begins at the core, slimes its way through every artery and vein, fills every organ then spills out to show the world who she really is.'
Libby brushes aside all questions regarding Jack's intention to kill her, despite that near the beginning of the book she says: 'He wasn't my type when I first met him. But look at us now; him with one dead wife and another on the way.'
Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve, (which will probably shock you as it did me! Not something you read about everyday!) and is soon unearthing more and more devastating family secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved--dead. Has she married a murderer?
Tense and alarming, yet moving, The Woman He Loved Before explores if the love you want is always the love you need or deserve.
I'm thrilled that Dorothy Koomson has written several novels. I've just embarked on a mission to read them all. I find it hard to categorise her -- women's fiction, contemporary fiction, thriller, chick lit? A bit of everything which fits together perfectly.
A word from the author: Writing my seventh novel has reminded me AGAIN why I love being an author. It pushes me, it stretches me, it challenges me. The Woman He Loved Before did all of that and more. I found myself in the pits of despair sometimes with the subjects I was writing about, and also questioning everything I’ve ever thought about beauty and looks. I probably wasn’t a whole lot of fun to live with while I was living the lives of Libby, Jack and Eve but as always I’m very proud of the results and hope that anyone who picks it up enjoys what they read.
Note from Denise:
Sometimes I contact the author when I've loved a book a lot. I tweeted @DorothyKoomson and was thrilled when she replied. Okay, it may have been her PR person, but at least she acknowledged the tweet.
@DeniseCCovey Really pleased you enjoyed it enough to re-read it. Will look out for the review. xAnd her website is great. She offers a free e-book. Always good. Visit her here.
— DOROTHY KOOMSON (@DorothyKoomson) September 23, 2013
Now I can't leave without announcing WEP's great October blogfest, HAUNTING! I hope you'll find your scary place and join in! There is a $10 Amazon Gift Card for Denise's favourite entry! Sign up at Write...Edit...Publish or in my right-hand sidebar. Thanks, scary ones...