Title: Separate Lives by Kathryn Flett
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 401 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Your partner of ten years, and the father of your children (though not your husband, because the two of you agreed that marriage seems so…old-fashioned), receives a text message. A text message you happen to see when you’re getting ready for work one day:
Start living a different kind of life… P 🙂 xxx
You don’t even know anyone with the initial P, but even if you did, the smiley face and kisses would send a shiver of fear down your spine that everything you and your partner have built and which seemed so strong, might be in danger of collapse. How could you miss that?
Narrated by Susie, her partner Alex, and the mysterious P, this is an achingly funny, moving and honest portrayal of modern romance, parenthood, and adultery.
Separate Lives by Kathryn Flett is a contemporary novel about the disintegration of a long term relationship amid suspicions of infidelity.
Susie Poe and Alex Fox have been together ten years and although engaged, they have never tied the knot. They have two children, eight year old Lula and four year old Chuck and both have successful careers. Things begin rapidly falling apart after Susie discovers a text on Alex’s phone from “P”and she immediately suspects he is having an affair.
The characters are a bit of a mixed bag and several of their relationships are interconnected. Susie is likable and sympathetic but she is not as innocent and wholesome as she first appears. Pippa’s (the not so mysterious P) motives for some of her actions are a little difficult to discern and while not completely unsympathetic, she is not exactly easy to like. Alex is a complete jerk who becomes even more detestable by the end of the novel. The Fox siblings are an interesting group of people and the story would have been much more enjoyable if they had bigger roles and more time on page than brief appearances, texts and e-mails.
Opening with Susie’s discovery of the text, the novel then unfolds from multiple points of view: Susie’s, Pippa’s and a series of texts and e-mails between Alex and his siblings. Susie’s chapters take place in real time and her entries are full of rambling passages that are a mishmash of pertinent information and non-essential, mind numbing minutiae. Pippa’s chapters are written letters to her Mum and they, too, are jam-packed with wordy sentences that contribute little to the overall story but do contain a smattering of relevant details. Surprisingly, the text messages and e-mails are the most concise chapters that are easy to follow and provide interesting insight into the unfolding events. The combined narratives explain the entire story but some of the storytelling is out of sequence so key information is sometimes not revealed until later chapters. There are plenty of twists and turns and not everything is as straightforward as it appears. While this is an interesting and unique approach to storytelling, unfortunately, the tedious, meandering chapters make it virtually impossible to appreciate overall story.
Separate Lives has an interesting storyline that unfortunately gets a little lost in the narrative until about the last quarter of the novel. Kathryn Flett introduces quite a few plot twists that are completely unexpected and the novel concludes with a few absolutely jaw-dropping revelations. All in all, it is a decent debut that requires a bit of patience to fully enjoy.