How do you tell the man you love that you have done the worst thing possible? (4 stars)
Source- review copy
Published by Penguin UK- 12th September 2013
I read the Kindle edition. The hardback version is 352 pages.
Furniture restorer Gabby and her doctor husband Elliott have the type of marriage that appears positively perfect from the outside looking in: the kind of relationship that other couples envy in fact. Together for twenty years with two daughters, they lead a blissful lifestyle in small town Connecticut- the kind of community where everyone knows one another and with good friends living right on their doorstep.
But what happens when everything they hold dear is threatened? What happens when Gabby is foolishly blinded by the attentions of a younger man and in one reckless moment destroys absolutely everything…?
This was a captivating story of betrayal, relationships and regrets and a novel that I enjoyed much more than I anticipated. I read a lot of Jane Green’s books years ago when I was a student (Bookends, Jemima J etc) but hadn’t picked up any of her work in a while so was keen to see if it was still the well-written blend of chicklit and drama that I remembered. Happily, it is. This book held my attention throughout and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an engaging read with a well thought out plot, wanting to get to know characters that have some degree of depth to them. Infact, I think this is the perfect girly read to take on holiday- just ideal for curling up with on the sun-lounger or by the pool.
I appreciated the fact that everything about this novel wasn’t black and white. As the story unravels the reader comes to realise that despite appearances and Gabby’s deluded insistence on seeing everything through rose tinted spectacles, not everything in her marriage is what it seems to be after all. Resentments are secretly being harboured, there isn’t the sexual chemistry that there once was… they are best friends sure, but I’m sure a lot of people in relationships can relate to the ‘getting comfortable’ aspect and will identify with their dilemmas. The depiction of their marriage was nicely crafted overall and I enjoyed getting to know them.
Gabby herself is pretty naïve for a forty-something woman, though on the other hand I think she is a person a lot of women can probably relate to. She has been married to the same man for decades and isn’t really sure of her ‘purpose’ any more. She feels pigeon-holed merely as a wife and mum and also isn’t particularly comfortable in her own skin, so it’s not surprising she is so flattered by the attention of a handsome stranger. Elliott, I wasn’t really sure of; I don’t think he treated Gabby particularly well on occaision but I did find myself warming to him and feeling a bit sorry for him as the story went on. Matt, well, he is a different beast altogether! Talk about the PERFECT man. He reads a bit like a Mills & Boon character! I have to say that he was just too ideal a specimen for my personal tastes. I do like the people I read about to have a few flaws and it didn’t seem especially true to life that he had zero.
Some of the secondary characters were nicely written- Claire, Gabby’s best friend for example, was another person to relate to. Friends with both parties, when a marriage implodes, whose side do you take? Is it even appropriate to ‘take sides?’ Those were other interesting moral questions that were raised during the course of the story and I found it pretty fascinating to read about. There was also ‘the other woman’ situation that came up, though I personally found this character quite flat overall. Similarly, this was the case with Gabby and Elliott’s children who were quite one dimensional. There was one storyline with their youngest daughter that I thought might be going somewhere, but then it sort of petered out. It felt a bit more of a convenient ‘filler’ aspect than anything particularly substantial and a bit more could have been made of that, perhaps.
This book makes you consider how you personally feel about infidelity and whether it can ever be ‘justified,’ so is indeed thought-provoking in that respect. I think my only real niggle with this it however, was the rushed, albeit fairytale ending. I get that this is a romance novel and it’s all supposed to be sunshine and roses, I just think that after everything that had happened throughout the rest of the novel, it wasn’t particularly realistic. To me personally, it also sent out the wrong message about infidelity and I’m not quite sure what message Jane Green was trying to convey with it overall. For everything to turn out the way it did just felt… well, I’m sure readers will make their own minds up about that!
That aside, Tempting Fate is a novel that I’m glad I read as it had some really complex themes. I’m now looking forward to going back and reading through some Jane Green publications that I may have missed out on, so in that respect it was certainly worth reading. This is definitely a novel that fans of chicklit and romance should be adding to their wish lists and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to fans of other romance writers such as Marian Keyes, Erica James and Veronica Henry.