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
Not as good as I expected.
The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
Member Name: jeffjen
The Woman He Loved Before - Dorothy Koomson
Advantages: Final third of book is quite intriguing.
Disadvantages: Took a long time to get into. Story didn't always flow well.
Libby has a good life and a lovely home with Jack, her gorgeous husband. However, as time passes she starts to become more and more unsure if Jack has ever really loved her and if he is actually over the tragic death of his first wife, Eve.
When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect first wife, Eve. However, in doing so, she unearths some devastating secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack married...
After a prologue which appears to be some kind of note written by Jack's dead first wife, Eve, the story is then told in the first person with alternating chapters written from Libby and Jack's point of view, beginning with Libby. Later in the story there are also diary entries written by Eve.
The first niggle I had, was that this switching between the character's narration and the present to the past and vice versa, caused the story to become too disjointed and it didn't flow very well. It was obvious from the start there was a big secret but it was all a bit too vague and drawn out in my opinion. Indeed I really struggled to get into this book and was ready to give up on it on a number of occasions as it simply wasn't gripping me.
I felt far too long was spent on certain aspects and I kept picking it up and putting it down several times. The only reason I stuck with it was that I did still have a slight curiosity as to what the big secret was which was looming all the time in the background and the fact that I could recall having previously enjoyed a Koomson novel.
Indeed by the time I was really beginning to wonder why I had stuck with this book, I was more than halfway through and still not enjoying it as I was finding it all rather slow and tedious. Then suddenly, just as I was seriously considering abandoning it altogether, it began to pick up. It was just a pity I was two thirds of the way through it before it began to hold my interest.
From then on in, I became interested in the story and the secrets which began to unfold, wondering what the consequences were going to be for Libby. She was quite a feisty character at first which I enjoyed but this seemed to disappear fairly quickly which made her character not totally believable to me. When she is involved in a car accident which leaves her lucky to be alive and housebound due to her injuries, she finds that not only did Eve die in suspicious circumstances, but the police are also suspicious that the recent car accident may be Jack trying to be rid of wife number two and I just found myself wondering why she wasn't demanding answers, as this would have seemed more befitting of the person I thought she was.
The same goes for Jack, he was just not always believable and I did think the author could have spent a little more time developing his character too, as it was obvious he had some sort of secret or dark side which I felt could have been exploited more to make it all a little more menacing. He did not feature as much as I hoped he would and more inclusion of his character I feel would have heightened my enjoyment overall.
I felt the story flowed much better once it got to the inclusion of Eve's diary entries and the slow build up finally evolved into an intriguing final third of the book, although at times I felt that Eve's diaries, which told her story, moved it away a little too much from Jack and Libby and the present day. Having said that, I did enjoy reading Eve's story and thought these parts were well written even though her character annoyed me, particularly when prostituting herself just to buy an expensive dress she spotted in a swanky shop window. Her actions I could not relate to, as it wasn't something I could ever envisage doing, but there was something intriguing and interesting about the writing of this part of the story, which led to my only enjoyment of the novel.
The ending wasn't any big surprise but was ok and I think I was glad to finally reach the conclusion. I would rate this story 2 out of 5, which is really for the final third of the book as I did find it quite a disappointment overall. If you can get past the first two thirds of this book without yawning too much, then it is worth sticking with for the remainder.
Summary: Not as good as I expected from Dorothy Koomson.