Despite the title putting me off I bought this book from my book club (Mango) partly because it was on special offer (£1.99) and partly because the loud cover made it look like fun. When it arrived I was really surprised that there was no blurb so I still had no idea what the book was about this actually intrigued me more and so I set about reading it.
Her we meet Emilia Greenleaf (Greenleaf is actually her maiden name but she wanted to keep it), Emilia is a 32 year old lawyer (although she is currently taking a leave of absence), she is married to Jack, whom she is deeply in love and believes they were made for each other. When we meet Emilia it becomes apparent that she has recently given birth but there is no baby. We soon find out that baby Isabel was born 2 and half months ago, a healthy baby, that died just 2 days after she was born. Emilia is desperately trying to come to turns with her loss, her grief and her guilt.
Emilia is also trying to come to terms with Jack's son , William who is 5 years old. When Jack first introduced the 2 of them, Emilia just assumed that because she loved Jack so much she would also love his son, instead she finds him difficult and annoying. Every time she feels she making a breakthrough with William the situation gets turned on it's head once more. Matters are not helped by the fact Jack's ex-wife and William's mother, Carolyn is neurotic about her son and scornful towards Emilia as after all she is the woman who stole her husband away.
Emilia- The story is told by Emilia and although she is sharp and witty you can actually feel the pain she feels at the death of baby Isabel.
Jack- Emilia's husband is also a lawyer (a partner in the firm where he an Emilia met where she also worked) he is 10 years older than Emilia and slightly more serious.
William - William is Emilia's 5 year old step son, he's very brainy, lactose intollerent (or thinks he is) and has his own psychologist, he reads and doesn't watch TV.
Dr Carolyn Soule- Jack's first wife and mother of William. She is a very successful Obstetrician, she's strict to the point of obsessiveness when it comes to William's well fare and she seems to be full of scorn towards Emilia.
There are other character like Emilia's sex addicted father, her own step sisters, her mum, Simon (Emilia's gay best friend) and Mindy (her best girlfriend) who is desperate for a baby. They have there parts to play but you don't learn as much about them as you do the 4 main players.
The edition I bought (British paperback) as I said earlier on in this review is bold and striking and immediatly jumps out and grabs attention, instead of a blurb on the back cover there is praise from other successful British authors like kate Long and Arabella Weir (amongst others). The alternative cover which was used for the hardback edition and the U.S paperback is quite plain and the novel probably would've escaped my notice if it had been the only available cover here, it is just the back of womans head.
i had never heard of Ayelet Waldman before but it seems she has written quite a few novels.She has a series of books called Mommy Track Mysteries about a public defender turned stay at home mum who begins solving murders. Her books are published throughout the world, in countries as disparate as England and Thailand and her native USA. She has also had many essay's and short stories published and has been included in some anthologies. She also contributes regularly to The New York Times (she is herself a New Yorker), Elle and The Guardian. I will probably now give some of the other stuff a go. To find out more about her go to: www.ayeletwaldman.com
Her other novels include:
Bye Bye Black Sheep
The Cradle Robbers
Murder Plays House
Death Gets a Tie Out
Playdate With death
The Big Nap
I was totally absorbed in this novel from the first couple of pages, you can feel Emilia's pain and want her to overcome the grief. For a novel that some heart breaking themes it is actually also quite amusing in places, although this is mainly due to high levels of sarcasm.The book has quite a few themes running through it infidelity, Judasim, love and family all set in the back drop of New York (and particulaly Central Park). I learnt quite a lot I never knew about Central Park and food allergies.
If I have a critism of the book I will say this. Dr Carolyn Soule seems to be a bit demonised, obviously Emilia stole her husband and is now spending time with her son so she is bound to be a bit scornful but I think the author went a bit OTT with it, especially as we learn the Carolyn has moved on herself.
I like the fact that Emilia knows she was wrong for 'stealing' Jack away and the fact she doesn't really trying to justify her behavior. She wanted him and loved him, that's that.
The end is sweet without being soppy, it's not really happy ever after but it's a starting point.
May need tissues
Contains some sexual references and actions.