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Sunday, December 9, 2012


Fascinating and compelling read about two women who discover they have the same husband. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Imagine a worst nightmare doubled!

Selina is busy preparing for her husband’s return from somewhere in the Middle East and trying to organise her three grown-up children into some sense of order. She’s awoken that night by a visit from the police to inform her that, not only was Simon not in the Middle East but that someone answering to his description was found drowned in the Thames earlier that evening.

While she is still trying to sort out why he didn’t tell her he was back in the country, another bombshell hits her. At his funeral, she discovers that he had another wife … and a daughter.

On the other side of town, the much younger Lottie is also preparing for her husband’s return. She gets a call from an acquaintance who got her phone number through her sister on Facebook. His call is to commiserate on the death of her husband, Simon. He discovered the news from an email sent by his former property magazine editor. The email includes the funeral arrangements.

Stricken with grief while trying to grasp the fact that the police had never called her to identify her husband’s body, she arrives at his funeral to discover the reason. Simon had another wife. And three children.

Skilfully crafted by Tamar Cohen, The War of the Wives is a fascinating and compelling read and we follow the lives of both “wives” after Simon’s death and the association that develops between them. Cohen moves from chapter to chapter, taking the situation from the viewpoint of each woman. As the story progresses we get to see how each one copes with the situation as their individual worlds get turned upside down.

However, while the investigative process is convincing, I did not find the eventual denouement believable. While there are hints along the way about the guilty party’s odd behaviour, this was not enough for me to find it credible.

Otherwise, this is a very good read.

Published by Doubleday, The War of the Wives is produced in trade paperback ISBN 9780857520357 and retails at R215.00 – Caroline Smart