Title: War of the Wives by Tamar Cohen
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Think marriage means happily-ever-after? Think again…
Selina and Lottie are complete opposites. Where Selina is poised but prudish, Lottie is quirky and emotional. Selina is the dutiful mother of three children and able manager of their stylish suburban home. Lottie lives with her eccentric teenage daughter in a small city apartment fit to bursting with color and happy chaos. But these women also have one shocking similarity: they’re married to the same man…and they’ve just found out he’s dead.
Selina has been married to Simon Busfield for twenty-eight years, Lottie for seventeen. Neither knows a thing about the other until the day of Simon’s funeral, where the scandalous truth is revealed in front of everyone they know. Another wife, another family… And they’ve only just scratched the surface of Simon’s incredible betrayal.
With dark humor and razor-sharp wit, Cohen expertly unravels a story of deception and betrayal, where two very different families will discover they are entwined in ways that will change them all forever.
War of the Wives is a very intriguing and riveting novel about two women who discover they were both married to the same man at the same time. While the premise of the story seems improbable, Tamar Cohen is simply brilliant at creating an entirely plausible scenario for the long lasting deception.
Selina Busfield has been married to Simon for twenty-eight years and they enjoy a lavish, privileged lifestyle. They have three children who range in age from late teens to their early twenties with only the youngest living at home. Selina is pampered and self-indulgent with a bit of a superior attitude. She is happy with her mostly long distance marriage and readily admits she is stingy with her affection to her husband and children. Selina is naturally stunned to discover that Simon has been living a double life, but she absolves him of all blame for falling for the second Mrs. Busfield, whom she fully believes is a nothing but a money-grubbing husband stealer.
Although Lottie has been married to Simon for seventeen years, she is completely unaware of his other family. She is nothing like Selina and their marriage is also very different from the one he has with Selina. Lottie is laid back, a bit of a spendthrift and unconcerned about their financial future. Although he is only around part of the time, Simon is a very hands on and doting father to their teenage daughter. Lottie is shocked to learn of Simon’s death and she cannot fathom why his funeral has been planned without her input. Needless to say, her appearance at the service brings the whole sordid mess out into the open and leaves both women struggling to understand Simon’s betrayal.
The differences between Selina and Lottie don’t end with their appearances and lifestyles. They each cope with Simon’s death in completely opposite ways. Selina remains organized and she faces the problems that arise head on whereas Lottie completely falls apart. Strangely enough, neither woman blames Simon for their current situation and as a result, Selina and Lottie’s relationship is incredibly antagonistic. However, the women do find themselves turning to one another as unexpected information is revealed, but their truce is fragile and easily broken.
The circumstances surrounding Simon’s death are rather perplexing and remain a mystery for much of the novel. Was his death a tragic accident? Did he commit suicide? Or is there a far more sinister reason for his untimely death? As more of his secrets come to light, each of these scenarios is conceivable, and when the answer is finally revealed, I immediately wanted to re-read the novel to see what, if any, clues I might have missed.
War of the Wives is a very compelling novel that is incredibly engrossing. Lottie and Selina are interesting characters that, while sympathetic, are not always easy to like. The plot is unique with numerous twists and turns and Tamar Cohen brings the story to an absolutely jaw-dropping and stunning conclusion. The remaining loose ends are wrapped up with a lovely epilogue that is quite heartwarming. All in all, it is a delightful gem of a story that I highly recommend.