"A very clever book..... about female sexual desire....with a secret ending, had me flipping frantically back through the book trying, like the characters, to understand the past"
I was quite surprised by the cover on this book, as it really doesn't have much relation to the story held within its' pages. Sophisticated silk nightdress against white sheets doesn't really give much of a clue as to the story, although I expected from the illustration a story with more sophistication than I got. Never judge a book by its' cover, they say, and in this instance, are right.
I have never read Nicci Gerrard before and had no pre-conception about what to expect. This is the story of people from a fairly middle class background, set in the modern day and certainly not what the cover of the book suggests. Irene is the wife of Adrian, a never quite made it actor, who is waiting for his big break. She comes over in the book as the grafter, the one that earns the money, looks after the kids and supports her husbands' career, against the criticism of family and friends. I got the definite feeling that the reader is supposed to feel sympathy for Irene, the poor doormat woman, though have known many women that play the martyr and wasn't that sympathetic with her situation until very late on in the book. Be patient. There are reasons for the way in which she behaves, as I suppose in real life, woman may not always play the martyr without reason. The book actually surprised me on this point so is worth sticking to, and to a certain degree opened my mind a little as to what goes on behind closed doors in a relationship that, on the surface, looks familiar and very sad.
It's a story of betrayal perhaps when Adrian falls for her friend, Frankie, though what I liked in the story was that there were always two sides to it, although the reader doesn't really have much sympathy with the errant husband or his mistress. The story really isn't about them. It's about logical reason and the step forward to a future that makes some kind of sense. Adrian comes over as a bit of a wally, but even here, explanation makes him believable and real.
I think the book would be a good one for people that have been in relationships and are coming out of the other side, because it deals with the subject is a very logical way, without being patronising to the reader. It's not a book that I would read again, although I would be tempted to read more from this writer because I feel that the writing style was fluent and enjoyable.
Characterizations were akin to people that I know and could feel familiar with, and their reactions in given situations pretty accurate, though what hit me the most is that voyage from security to insecurity and the emotions that come with it, and here, the writer dealt with it in such a way as to be credible without drowning the whole story in "drama".
The children within the book were quite demanding, and I believe true to life, and how the transfer of affection from their mother to Frankie took place felt pretty real. It's the story of hope, of the light at the end of the tunnel, without revelation, and a pretty good read that leaves the reader thinking, which is something I expect from a good book.
With the children being taken on a long trip to Australia, what Irene finds is the route to her future, and finding what she believes to be her "solace", or acceptance. This was a good part of the book, and where the story came together very well indeed, in that acceptance of herself, or even recognition of who Irene was instead of who other people saw her as was expressed in very good descriptive way.
You wondered at times what tempted her husband to stray, but are brought through the story in such a manner that you understand that failing of a relationship is not always as simple or clear cut as it first seems, and that there are always reasons why situations like this creep up on people. It's a good yarn and one that I would class as good chic lit, and a relatively easy read.
A trip to stay with her brother in France becomes a turning point for Irene, though the discovery of self is a slow path, an enjoyable one, though one that holds revelations and a chance for Irene to go through emotions put on the back boiler for years, as she faces her ghosts head on, and learns to go forward.
Will Irene welcome her errant husband back ? Will she ever forgive her friend ? Will she find a way to accept her ghosts? Well here, you will have to read the book to find out, because the web that it weaves is a relatively complex one that merits the price tag of 5.99 GBP, although personally I would settle for a second hand copy from Amazon, at a penny plus postage. At this price, you don't have a lot to lose, but the understanding you gain of seeing relationships from two sides may be beneficial, at the same time as reading a decent book, with a story to tell.
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (31 Mar 2005)
Irene has a husband, Adrian, three small children and - though she doesn't know it - a marriage that is going wrong. When she discovers that Adrian is having an affair, the family is blown apart. Solace is a story of contrasts. While Adrian finds new love and excitement, Irene spirals into exhaustion, self-destruction and a kind of madness. With their marriage in shreds and Adrian whisking their daughters on a trip of a lifetime ti Australia with his new lover, Irene finally reaches rock bottom. She decides to leave the unbearable silence of her home for a trip by herself to visit her brother Jem in France. And as Irene soon realises, being along can mean discovering freedom, elation and even in the darkest of times, finding your solace.