The School for Husbands by Wendy Holden.
This books deals with a rather modern day dilemma. The story is based on the lives of a married couple, Sophie and Mark, who appear at first to have the perfect marriage. When their relationship starts to hit the rocks Sophie decides to take control and enrol her husband in the imaginary 'School for Husbands'. Sophie is a very strong character and at times it was Mark who I felt sympathetic towards as she overpowers him slightly. Sophie starts to become suspicious about her husband when he starts working late and then one night he doesn't return home at all. She is frustrated as she feels like too much is expected of her, she has to responsible for the house, the baby and trying to keep her own career alive. Mark isn't up to anything, he is just overwhelmed and loses his way a little bit. Mark desperately wants to save his marriage and so agrees to attend a school on how to be a good husband. The lessons are conducted in a very unusual way but does he learn enough to make things right with his wife? Or is it too little too late as an eligible millionaire has his sights set on Sophie.
I think that the concept of the book is quite unusual and at first that was what interested me. I found the idea of a school for husbands quite intriguing and amusing. The book however didn't quite meet my expectations. The book struggled to keep me interested at some points and I really had to battle to keep going with it. The irony is that as Mark is learning how to be a better husband, a handsome millionaire is chasing Sophie. I was unsure where the author wanted the readers loyalty to lie, with Sophie or with Mark. I felt as though I should have favoured Sophie but I ended up feeling sorry for Mark. I couldn't really connect with any of the characters, especially Sophie, as she was so unpredictable.
The book was a number one bestseller for Wendy Holden. Before becoming a novelist, Wendy was a journalist. She has enjoyed success with other novels such as; Simply Divine, Bad Heir Day and The Wires of Bath. This was the first Wendy Holden novel that I have ever read. I enjoyed her style of writing and found the book easy to follow. I didn't want to desperately read on and find out the ending but I did enjoy the book overall.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of drama. It is definitely not a conventional love story and it does deal with realistic issues which sometimes occur in marriages. I don't think that I would read the book again as it wasn't really my cup of tea. When I read a book I really like to connect with the characters and I couldn't properly do that with this book. I think that this is because I didn't agree with how the characters dealt with situations and some of their actions so it was difficult for me personally to understand them. I liked the way that the book gave different perspectives on the relationship between Mark and Sophie, but as I said before it left me feeling a bit confused about who was in the right. On reflection I think that Holden is trying to portray how relationships can go wrong due to both people not thinking before they act. I think that I would appreciate this book a lot more if I was married and thinking of starting a family so I will definitely keep hold of it and maybe read it again then.
This book can be bought online for about £5.99. I bought my copy from Tesco on a 3 books for £10 offer a while ago.
Thank you for reading : )
Review also on Ciao under luceey.
This is a review of the 2006 book "The school for husbands" by wendy Holden. The comic book cover looked interesting (see picture) and the back cover promises 'giggles galore' and a riotous read... so I had to read this book to find out what the school for husband entails.
A bit about the storyline
The book follow busy mum Sophie and her (too) hard working husband Mark. Deep down they are an ordinary couple striving to make a living but Sophie has deep suspicions about one of Mark's colleagues and allows friends and family to make a bigger deal of it.
Sophie's mum has aspirations for her family and wants to impress the neighbours so cohorts with Sophie's millionaire ex boyfriend to try and get them together. She engineers the opportunity for him to become godparent to baby Arthur and the book follows Mark's struggle to try and win Sophie back.
What was good about it?
I liked the detail of Mark's job and how he worked in the publishing world, the struggle to sell books and the highs and lows of working with famous authors. The detail of the rooms when Mark stays at a posh country house is stunning - you feel like you are there enjoying the plush towels and open fires with him.
What was bad?
Unfortunately, I found the book's namesake, the school for husbands a bit lame. As if profesional men would pay thousands of pounds to learn how to screw the cap on toothpaste (do any toothpaste tubes still have caps nowadays anyway?), put the toilet seat down and empty the dishwasher. Yes, I can appreciate the comedy value in these things and yes, they are the little things that cause arguments in relationships but I felt it all went a bit far, especially when the group of husband students go out in a minibus to tell random folk that they love them? eh?
Taking a step back, I really didn't mind this book and read it quickly. I didn't love it but it's not put me off future reading by the same author.
The line dancing theme was a road leading to only one end - funny that the ex boyfriend and Sophie's mean boss both had this in common, I won't give away the ending as it's just a loose thread being tied in the book and not really important but I was expecting it.
The book addresses the struggle between work life balance and keeping a relationship going when times are difficult. I wanted Sophie to be a bit tougher as a character and less accepting or more challenging of others' expectations of her. The idea that men can go and learn where they are going wrong was amusing but it didn't feel like it was thought through enough in those chapters of the book.
Sophie and Mark are happy enough until Mark becomes so involved with work that he rarely has any time for Sophie or their son Arthur. Sophie is left looking after Arthur and the house whilst still trying to hold down a full-time job. When Mark doesn't come home one night, Sophie and Arthur leave to go and stay with Sophie's mother, Shirley. The story is told from both Sophie and Mark's point of view and this helps the reader to feel for both of them. Neither of them are portrayed as villians. They are both likeable characters who are trying to do their best in the circumstances.
Although it is written in a light-hearted way, I thought it was very realistic how a breakdown in communication in a situation like this can make things a lot worse than they really are.
When Mark enrols in The School For Husbands there are some hilarious moments - for example when the students at the school all have to go into the local village and tell complete strangers that they love them, or when they receive lessons in how to put down a toilet seat. But through it all Mark is determined to change to save his marriage.
The only down-side of this book is Simon, a millionaire banker who Sophie dated for a few months before she met Mark. When he hears that Sophie and Mark are separating he enlists the help of Sophie's snobbish mother to try to get Sophie back. However, he has an ulterior motive and is probably one of the most despicable characters I have ever come across in a book. I think he is the only character where I have wanted to actually climb into the pages of a book just so I could punch him.
Overall, it was a light-hearted, enjoyable read with the happy ending that I was kind of expecting from the start.
When Sophie and Mark begin to have marriage problems, and Sophie begins to suspect another woman is involved, she grabs her clothes and takes their son, Arthur, to her parents' house. Mark can't believe that Sophie has done such a thing and can't understand what the hell he's done wrong. But he loves his family to death and hates the idea of being apart from his wife and never seeing his son so he enrols himself in a School for Husbands hoping to buck up some of his ways.
But as Mark tries desperately to win his wife back, interfering mother-in-laws and scheming ex-boyfriends are trying to pull Sophie further and further away from him and he has to do everything he can to stop this from happening.
The title of the book can't help but attract you to it - surely it's a place every girl and woman would want their husband to visit! With this in mind, I quickly bought the book and began reading it straight away.
I found the book to be quite slow at the beginning. About half the book was just about Sophie and Mark's marriage and the School for Husbands didn't even come into it until a lot later on. Once Mark began to attend the school, the book got a lot better. I found myself laughing quite a lot and smiling knowingly and it was much better than the first parts. I would have liked more time to have been spent on Mark being in the school and taking lessons as this was the best part of the book and the rest was just too slow and didn't give me enough laughter.
I've never read of Wendy Holden's book before, so I can't compare it to others, but I found that this book didn't read very well. Some of the way sentences were worded just didn't read properly and I noticed quite a few errors in places.
I do think it would be a good book for all those husbands and boyfriends out there to read though if they can get past the embarrassment of reading a chick lit book! There are some handy tips in there on how to please your wife and be a good husband including how it's all the little tiny things that count that guys don't even usually notice. This is what gave me the most laughs as it was totally true and I would sit there nodding my head and smiling knowingly!
Although I didn't enjoy it as much as other similar books, it was still enjoyable and I'd definitely recommend all you blokes giving it a read!
Who could possibly resist a book with this title??
The start is a little slow and depressing, as it follows the troubles of married couple Mark and Sophie, who have just christened baby Arthur.
But after the 'mother-in-law' decides to improve her daughters life and social standing, the pace picks up and becomes a bit more lively and funny.
The escapades of godfather Simon coincide with Marks stint in Dr Martha's school for husbands are both cringeworthy and laugh-out-loud funny.
The School is perfect, and should be made in real-life! Every man should read this book to understand their wives and girlfriends and even mothers better. The things Dr Martha asks them to do, and shows them, are funny but based in fact. Toothpaste arguements, Loo seats, those three words, even ironing are all covered in a humourous to read style.
I wont spoil the ending, but I will say that lessons are learnt all round, with some surprises thrown in.
Summary - persevere through the start, it is worth the effort. The rest of the book is funny and lively, and easy to read.
Meet Mark and Sophie. They have a new baby son called Arthur, and are about to celebrate his christening. Poor Mark will never come up to the standards of Sophie's mum Shirley. She really is a yummy granny and wants the best of everything, and Mark will never be good enough for her daughter.
Poor Mark only has a publishing job, if only he had a job like Simon. Simon was Sophie's first boyfriend, who was never going to amount to much in Shirley's eyes, but he surprised her and now he was an investment banker with over a million in the bank.
As Shirley manages to get Sophie to agree to Simon being a godfather to Arthur, she begins to see how suited the pair could be.
Mark isn't doing very well during this book. He is neglecting Sophie whilst he tries to get his new job off the ground, and with a bit of help from Shirley and Simon, Sophie realises Mark isn't a very good husband after all and leaves him, taking poor Arthur along for the ride.
All sounds very normal circumstances unfortunately doesn't it? That is until Mark somehow gets himself enrolled in a school for husbands to prove to Sophie he can still be the husband she married.
Simon meanwhile needs a wife to prove to his new boss that he is a family man; even though there is nothing worse he could think of that having a baby in the house.
What will happen to Mark and Sophie's marriage and poor Arthur's upbringing with Shirley and Simon being in the mix?
I thought this book started off quite slowly and I nearly gave up on it a couple of times in the first 50 pages. The idea of Mark being a rubbish husband was easy enough to read, but some of the circumstances and plot surrounding the break up was a bit farfetched in my opinion.
Needless to say I got past the slow bit and moved onto where we really get an insight into Mark's character. He is the only one who is really portrayed deeply, with Sophie, Shirley and Simon being briefed over a bit too much.
Simon comes across as a money orientated business man who needs a trophy wife, and as Shirley wants to keep "up with the Jones'" as it were, she has tunnel vision and does what she thinks is right for her daughter.
Poor Mark doesn't stand a chance and I really started to feel sorry for him by the end of the book. I do think however that Holden should have involved the baby a bit more, as the poor mite was sometimes not even there in scenes when he really should have been included.
Overall this book is an average read at a chick lit style, but there are times in the book where you just don't believe a word the author is saying, and that for me doesn't make a great book. I need to be in the characters mind and living their world for a few hundred pages, but sadly with this I was just looking in from the window.
The concept of the book was a good idea if only it had been handled slightly different.
Price: £5.49 (Amazon)
The School for Husbands is a book written by Wendy Holden, having never read any of her books before I chose this book purely by the description on the back and having recently finished the book I am not disappointed.
Wendy Holden used to be a journalist for the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday before she became a number 1 bestselling author. Wendy is married with 2 children and despite her husband Jon providing the idea for this book title she claims he is nothing like the character Mark that sounds familiar to many married women, infact she could even be writing about my fiancé.
The School for Husbands is about the breakdown of a once happy marriage between Sophie and Mark both working hard to develop their careers to ensure a secure future for their 1 years old son Arthur.
Sophie is fed up of picking up after Arthur and her husband Mark and having no time to herself anymore, she struggles to commute into London with Arthur each day and to get to work on time, complete her job with the men-hating colleagues from hell and finish work on time to pick up Arthur. Sophie is not a bad person yet she feels as if she is the women in Arthurs nursery always look down on her as Arthur is the last one to be picked up time after time and the lonely walk home to the empty house as Mark is once again late home from work.
Mark recently made redundant has found a job but he is not earning as much as he previously was, he wants to grow in his new role and be able to offer Sophie and Arthur a secure future but to do this he will need to put in the time, with limited staff to help and a PA that is useless he finds he is spending more time at the office than at home with his wife and son that he clearly adores.
As neither of them talk about their feelings it is soon clear that they are being pushed apart along with the help of Sophies mother who has made it crystal clear that she has never approved of her daughters choice of husband material and is gloating in the fact that Mark is now proving her right and when an old flame of Sophies is back on the scene Shirley puts a devious plan into action to ensure a better life for her daughter.
I do like reading what is referred to as Chick-lit and this book certainly would appeal to anyone that has a similar interest.
As I read the first few pages I started to feel disappointed that the book had been misleading and that I would not enjoy this as much as I had originally anticipated, however as I got further into the book I found myself empathising with Sophie as I felt that she was infact acting out my life, the similarities were uncanny as I can imagine they could be for the majority of other women out there.
Does your husband leave the lid off the toothpaste? Leave damp towels on the bedroom floor or on the end of the bed? Does he think that the dishwasher miraculously loads and unloads itself each day?
These are just some of the scenarios that Sophie finds niggling away at her every day and Mark appears to be oblivious to all these problems that are driving them apart, I was surprised when reading this book that Sophie did not really tell him how fed up she was, I regularly rant and rave at my partner and still there seems to be no improvement but I keep on hoping that one day he will avoid my nagging and just get on with it!
Wendy Holden writes this book in a style and manner that anyone would be able to relate to whether you be male or female it helps you to see each side of the story, Mark is oblivious but he had different priorities he wants to make Sophie secure and Sophie just wants what she used to have with Mark the love and attention that he so often displayed to her. There is a twist to this story but I dont want to give away too much, it really is not all about a wife moaning about her husband and vice versa and it is a very lighthearted take on the small problems that can develop into major problems in a relationship and lead to divorce.
The School for Husbands is entertaining and funny and when you get to the chapters where Mark is attending the school the things that get taught really make you laugh, Mark thinks he is going in there to learn how to charm his wife, when infact he is there just to learn the basics, the small things in life such as how to put the lid back on the toothpaste and how to put the toilet seat down.
The book is unbiased and tells the story from a male point of view as well as the female point of view and my only disappointment was when reading the final few pages when the story came to such an abrupt end.
Sophie - One of the main characters in the book she is in her late thirties and has recently returned to work after looking after her 1 year old son Arthur, she wants to focus on developing her career after her lengthy break.
Mark Sophies husband he is desperate to hold down his new job after being made redundant recently, he is determined to get a stable position to make his family secure once more.
Shirley Sophies pushy mother who has never been keen on her daughters choice of husband material and would much rather her daughter marry a wealthy financial advisor such as her childhood sweetheart Simon who has recently appeared back on the scene. Shirley is so keen to be an upper class citizen and will do anything to promote her status with other members of the village.
James Sophies father, keen to keep out of the many plans his wife has for his daughters life he is happy to dig his head into the library records and continue researching into his family history until he finally discovers a very wealthy secret that will change his families life completely.
Cess Sophies best friend she is so completely different to Sophie but as Arthurs god mother she does appear in the book every now and then.
Simon Sophies wealthy school heartthrob he needs a wife to develop his career and quick and when Sophie asks Simon to be Arthurs godfather he hatches a plan to move his career further .
This is a hilarious new novel from bestselling author Wendy Holden. Sophie's marriage was perfect, but now it's all gone wrong. Mark works late; she's left with the baby, domestic drudgery, her own career to keep on the go and the growing feeling that Mark is having an affair. When he fails to come home one night it's the last straw. Sophie wants a divorce. But Mark doesn't. He hasn't been unfaithful, just thoughtless. Desperate not to lose his family, he signs up to the 'School for Husbands'; which transforms hopeless spouses into perfect marriage partners. But will its intensive and unusual tuition be enough to get him back with Sophie? Especially now an eligible millionaire is after her!