Newest Review: ... wife, Eve, the story is then told in the first person with alternating chapters written from Libby and Jack's point of view, beginning wi... more
The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
Member Name: hlb2009
The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
Advantages: Very well written
Disadvantages: not the best ending
I have been looking for a book to read which takes me into another world and gives me a form of escapism. I enjoy reading books which really take me in and I find hard to put down. This book did just that, however, I haven't finished it with a feeling that it was one of the best books I've ever read but it was perfectly fine.
I have read all of Koomson's books now so I think that reflects that she does appeal to me. All of her books I enjoy reading although none of them have ranked in my favourite reads. Her books include:
My best friend's girl.
Marshmallows for breakfast
The Cupid Effect
Ice Cream Girls
And a couple of others. What Koomson tends to do is what many authors either shy away from or get very wrong- she talks about subject areas which can be very sensitive and difficult to approach so things such as infertility, death, domestic violence etc. She always is very good at doing this and it is refreshing to see an author that manages to make it seem like it is relevant to the novel instead of being patronising or her trying to bring awareness to a subject without it being relevant.
The Woman He Loved Before
This book tells of Libby and her husband Jack. Right at the start of this book we are introduced to Libby as she is being cut out of a car crash. Immediately the thoughts that are going through her head and her fears alert us to the fact that her relationship with Jack are not quite perfect and that perhaps there is a big secret which is going to be revealed. Jack is Libby's first husband but Libby is Jack's second wife. His first wife, Eve, died in an accident which resulted in a police enquiry due to the circumstances being seen as suspicious. It is clear that Libby feels uncomfortable about the fact that Jack has loved someone else before so much that he wanted to marry her and the two of them barely ever bring Eve up in conversation.
A police woman who takes Libby's statement about the car crash raises suspicions in Libby's mind- why was Eve's death seen as more than an accident?
Suddenly Libby is obsessed with Eve and Jack's relationship. So obsessed is Libby that she finds herself re-evaluating her entire relationship with Jack. She recalls how they met, how she felt about him, how their relationship developed and how they are now relating to each other since the crash.
One day the obsession with Eve grows further when Libby finds a bag full of diaries hidden in the cellar. Diaries belonging to Eve and there is a letter too asking whoever finds them if they can just burn them and not read them... Libby ignores this advice and decides she needs some answers as to what has made Jack behave how he has and thinks that the diaries will help. Sadly the diaries actually are quite dangerous, they lead to paranoia, suspicion and sadness as Eve's life is suddenly revealed to Libby.
What I liked about the book is that right from the beginning you are drawn in. Page one immediately grabs your attention and you think that something sounds odd and not quite right so you are urged to carry on reading and that is the way it is throughout the whole book. There are many twists and turns and it does make you find it hard to put the book down.
It is written by Libby but then there are huge sections told by Eve as we read her diaries and then the odd couple of pages from Jack's point of view. Having the story unfold in this way makes you really able to relate to the characters as you are hearing the various situations being told by more than one person. I did begin to think that I knew how the characters would react to situations and what they were feeling which I think is the sign of a very well written book and a clever author.
The book told about the entire relationship of Libby and Jack and also of Eve and Jack and so as a result you really did get to know this man. The way it was written was very smooth despite it going back to Libby and Jack's past and also Eve and Jack's past, there was never any confusion as to who was telling the story now and whether we were in the present or not.
Some other characters were very interesting and made you want to know more about them such as Jack's parents and Eve's friend Dawn so they added great areas of interest.
The difficult subject areas within this book involved paranoia, losing a loved one and prostitution. The way that these subject areas were brought up and included in this novel were excellently done. Not once did I think that they were inappropriate or insensitively described. Koomson had an amazing way of bringing these subjects into the novel that made you absorbed by them and being able to have compassion and understanding for the characters involved in these areas. Sometimes I know people may find some/all of these difficult circumstances hard to read about so it may not be for you but Koomson is good at not being overly graphic yet still being able to get her point across very well.
The end of the book I found was a little rushed and I think I have said this before about Koomson's books. I think I still have a few questions unanswered and the odd loose end hasn't been tied up so I think it could have done with having a tighter ending which is a shame.
After finishing this book I asked myself the usual question; is it a life changer? I love books that leave you thinking about them and feeling the need to shout about them from the roof tops... this book isn't like that although I did enjoy it. It did grip my attention and it was extremely well written I am sure many, many people will enjoy this just like I did. I, however, think the ending was a bit rushed ans there was nothing in this book that left me completely amazed so for that reason I am giving it 4 stars.
It is an easy read insofar as there are no complicated words, long paragraphs of descriptions or complex story matters but at the same time it does tackle some difficult subject areas. I think it makes a good holiday read but is not a tacky chick lit type book. It will catch your attention and keep you reading so I think it will appeal to people looking for some action and interesting ideas.
In terms of Koomson I think this ranks up there as one of her best, probably her second best with the number one book- in my opinion- being Ice Cream Girls.
Summary: 4 stars