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"The days I had previously filled with the duties of chief cook and bottle-washer now lay strangely empty and stretched out before me like a blank canvas. I kept looking at it, but couldn't think of anything to paint..."
After thirteen years of being Robert's wife, Helen Robbins can't take it anymore. Preparing and sitting through dinners with his boring colleagues, wearing dismal clothes and doing dismal chores, not seeing her own sister because Robert didn't get on with her, and having a women's radio talk station as her only company, Helen drinks all the wine, ruins the dinner and insults Robert about his bad driving in front of his work friends. To prove to her that he is a good driver, Robert agrees to take a driving test only to end up in a fatal accident which leaves Helen without a husband.
Not knowing where to begin in the world all by herself, Helen's sister and old friends return into her life and show her how she is much better off in a world without Robert.
~ My opinion ~
I accidentally bought the fourth book in this series without realising that it was actually part of a series. This meant that I had to go out and buy the first three books as I couldn't read the fourth one without reading the others first.
Robert, Helen's husband, is only in the book very briefly at the beginning before he has his accident so you don't really see enough of him to actually feel anything for him. From what you do see of him though, he isn't exactly being the nicest man in the world so his death doesn't really effect you at all and you can understand Helen's relief rather than grief when he dies. Although she is upset, Helen obviously feels as if she is finally free and can begin to live life how she wants to.
All of the characters in the book are very easy to warm to. Helen, the main character, is a very likeable person and you immediately feel for her because of her husband's death and the fact that she now has to make it by herself when she's never previously been alone before. Her sister, Julia, is a very caring character who is immediately there for her despite them having shared differences in the past and not having seen each other for thirteen years. Leoni, Helen's best friend, is a very quirky and funny character who always seems to have a problem in her life whether it's her irritating husband or her demanding children. Sara, Julia's young assistant, also becomes a good friend and shows Helen how to have some fun again.
Although the book was a very enjoyable read, I did find that it was lacking in a few places. I was expecting Helen to go out and start living the single life again but that didn't really happen. There wasn't much fun and excitement in the story and Helen just seemed to plod along with her life not really doing very much. This meant that there wasn't much depth to the actual storyline and the entire book didn't seem to do very much at all.
Saying that though, the book had a lovely ending and I couldn't wait to start on the second book in the series. After now having read more of the books (I'm currently on the third), I realise that you really need to read all of the House Wife books to actually enjoy and appreciate them to the full extent. The story simply continues from where it left on in the first book and I found it much better when I continued reading the other books as it created more of a story and better understanding of Helen's life.
As a stand-alone book, I don't think this would be such a good read, but if you read the whole series, then it turns into a very enjoyable group of books.
I'm still trying to work my way through my back log of books from when I was an active member of several swapping sites, as my bedroom is just littered with books, its ridiculous! I was sorting out the piles the other day and saw this book and I suddenly decided just to start reading it as I'd heard a lot of good things about it. I was also pleased about the fact there are 2 other sequels to this one out so if I enjoyed it, there'd be more books to get from the library!
Housewife Down tells the tale of bored housewife Helen Robbins, whose marriage to husband Robert is pretty darn miserable. Helen is bossed around by her husband, and she really hates him, so when one day the police call around to say he's died, Helen suddenly feels completely free, and feels guilty for saying so. Helen starts to enjoy her life, led by sister Julia, and decides to start enjoying all of the things Robert has stopped her from doing. How is life going to change for our newly single andhousewife Helen?
I hadn't actually heard much about this author, but there was a sticker on the front of the book stating that Alison Penton Harper was a Finalist in Richard and Judy's "How to get Published" contest a few years ago. This must have been before I got into Richard and Judy's bookclubs so I don't know much about it but I figured this must be good if she was a finalist! This is Penton Harper's debut novel, and is the first in a series of "Housewife" books which I am eventually aiming to read when I find the time to do so!
From the brief reviews I read of this book on Amazon before actually reading it myself, it seemed that this was definitely a comedy book, full of laughs and so I was hopeful for a really good read. The premise sounded very interesting, a housewife being freed from her domineering husband after his shock death, but I was interested to see how the author would be able to put a comedy spin on the situation. The book starts just before Robert's death and gives us a quick peek into Helen and Robert's dire life, and what a pleb Robert is, presumably so we sympathise with Helen and hate her husband, and it did indeed work that way! Helen's thoughts in this first bit were very funny, and you could see why she felt so guilty once her husband had died!!
The rest of the book then follows Helen as she comes to terms with her new found freedom, and how she has to adjust her life without worrying about what Robert thinks. Penton Harper then introduces another character to liven up the proceedings, who is Helen's sister Julia, and her kooky PA occasionally as well. I really, really loved this character and thought she was an absolutel godsend in this story because of how well she was written, and how much I enjoyed reading about her and how she treated her sister! The relationship between the pair develops as the book goes on was a nice gradual development for the readers, keeping me interested, and of course gave me more readers to hate Robert!
Penton Harper has a great writing style which I found so easy to get into, and made for easy reading throughout the rest of the book. The book itself is written in the first person from Helen's perspective and this was definitely the best way for this story to be written. I really got into the character of Helen, I felt so sorry for her in her marriage and then I really felt happy for her when she finally started to get her life back. The comedy writing seems to come easily to the author, and the jokes flowed really well in the book. I found myself laughing out loud quite frequently which was great, as not many books actually make me laugh out loud!
I feel that this is a great debut novel from Penton Harper, and a really great read overall for anyone who is a fan of very funny chick lit! The story idea is really interesting, but the way the author has made it very funny is excellently done. The comedy in the book is very funny, and it made the book very enjoyable for me. I look forward to reading more books in the series, and I think Penton Harper is definitely going to continue to be a very successful author if her other books are as good as this one!
ISBN: 978-0330441209. Published by Pan Books in September 2005. The paperback version contains 320 pages, and is availabe on Amazon for £5.49 (RRP £6.99).
Other books in the series are :
Housewife Up (2006)
Housewife On Top (2007)
Housewife in Love (2009)
Thank you for reading.