Top critical review
Reviewed in Australia on 10 April 2022
I must be in book slump or a bad mood because nothing much is grabbing me lately. This books opens with the wedding. Stephen Aston (60 something respected surgeon) is marrying 34 year old Heather Wisher. Stephen’s two daughters, both older than his new wife are bridesmaids. Natalie (Tully 37) is a neurotic kleptomaniac and Rachel (35 years old) has never had a relationship. With anybody. And soothes her insecurities by cooking, baking and eating. Something bad happened to her when she was 16 (no prizes for guessing) and that was that! Heather herself is desperately trying to move on from her dysfunctional childhood. Trying too hard I thought. And what 34 year old, woman or man, doesn’t how how to cook a steak?
Also present at the wedding is Stephen’s former wife, Pamela whom he recently divorced and who is in a nursing home with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Um - who invites their addled ex to their wedding? And she embarrasses herself. Anyway, as the bridal party and the celebrant move into the sacristy to sign the register to formalise the wedding, Pamela sneaks in clutching a candle stick. A scream is heard, pandemonium ensues and an ambulance is called. Something serious has occurred!
We then go back a year to the restaurant dinner where Stephen announces the engagement to his daughters before the divorce is even started. Awkward!
Eventually we learn that Stephen has been keeping a secret from his family. And clues start to emerge that maybe he’s not really a very nice man. But he always has such a rational explanation for everything and the women in his life are silly, hysterical, neurotic, blah blah! No, no no! Stop writing women being so naive and allowing themselves to be victims of gaslighting! And alcohol - my goodness they were practically swimming in it! Oh, and the hot water bottle filled with over $97 thousand - what was that? It was so out of left field, it was head shaking.
It was entertaining to a degree but it was also very clear where this was heading. I know a lot of people really enjoyed this but Stephen’s nice guy act was sickening and that’s all I’ll say. Many thanks to Netgalley and Hooder & Stoughton for the much appreciated arc which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly.