I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this beautiful novel on publication day. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and for the gifted ARC of the novel.
Published: January 27th, 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction.
It was a wooden box, white with yellow and green flowers. Shelley ran a finger over the embossed lettering – Memories – pressed her lips tightly together, feeling her heart pounding in her chest… and opened it.
When Shelley first met Greg, her life had been full of possibility. A whirlwind romance, a dream wedding, moving into their first house together, thinking about starting a family…
But now it’s ten years since their wedding. Greg has gone. And there’s room in the house where Shelley has shut a baby blanket away. In a box, under a bed, in a spare room, behind a door she never opens. If it’s there, she can forget about it. Just like everything else in that room. Just like her other memories. Of a marriage that perhaps hadn’t been perfect. Of a life that hadn’t gone the way she’d expected.
She’s been managing to hide from her past. Every day she acts like everything is normal. Going to work and following a routine helps her pretend the bad stuff never happened.
Until one day, everything changes. She sees the couple moving in next door, giggling as they walk up the path to their new home. The woman is pregnant. It’s like she has everything that Shelley has lost. But when Shelley properly meets Lara, she soon discovers she’s carrying a heartache to match Shelley’s own.
As her friendship with Lara deepens, Shelley starts to wonder what might happen if she opens the box she’s hidden away. Will the secrets from her past – about what was lost, what she’s hiding from and what she has been doing her best to forget – destroy her?
A heartbreaking, emotional drama about the power of friendship that will make readers laugh and cry.
The Forgotten Wife is a poignant, soulful and uplifting story about tragedy, heartache, rediscovering yourself and the power of friendship. I devoured this book in just a few hours, the beautiful writing and addictive story making it impossible to tear myself away until the end.
The story is narrated by Shelley and Lara and begins the day Lara and her husband Matt move into the house next door to Shelley. They start to get to know each other, each secretly wishing they could just be alone as they are both nursing secret pain that is crippling their lives. As they get closer the two very different women learn they are more alike than they realised and that the other could be just what they need to help them heal their broken hearts.
Shelley and Lara were wonderful characters. Shelley has isolated herself since her life imploded when her husband, Greg, left her a year ago. She’s angry, bitter and finding it hard to move on like she knows she should. She’s put up a wall to prevent any further pain from people leaving so she’s not exactly warm and welcoming when Lara moves next door and seems to want to get to know her. Lara and her husband Matt are expecting their first child and have a blissful, perfect life that Shelley envies. But Matt fusses over Lara and won’t let her do anything, and Lara is avoiding her friends so she doesn’t have to face what she calls the worst time in her life. They are very different – Shelley is introverted, quiet and indecisive, while Lara is confident, outgoing and focused. At least that is how it seems. A they grow closer their full selves are revealed as they feel able to share the truth about themselves and their pain. I connected to both women and things they went through and loved the warm and tender friendship they shared.
I am a big believer in some books coming to you when they’re supposed to, and this one came at exactly the right time for me. Though there was a lot in this book that should have made it a painful and difficult read for me I actually found it a therapeutic experience and I know a part of that is the talent of the author. Robinson has a knack for getting into your soul and breaking your heart while uplifting you and giving hope at the same time. She is an exquisite storyteller whose prose is tender, beautiful, clever and addictive. One of the twists was so surprising it had my jaw on the floor and turned everything I thought I knew upside down.
The Forgotten Wife is an emotional, powerful and wondrous novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. Just be warned that you’ll need tissues at the ready as it pulls on your heartstrings again and again. My love for Robinson’s writing is now solidified and her books are now on my auto-buy list. I just need to get myself emotionally prepared in time for the next one.
I will leave you with this quote from Make Way For Joy by Marie Kondo, a book that features throughout the story and sums up my big takeaway from this novel – “In order to heal, you have to feel.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Emma Robinson is the author of five novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.
Her fifth novel – The Forgotten Wife – will be out in January 2020.
When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.
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