"My Sweet Revenge" Jane Fallon
I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.
Let me explain. This isn't an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven't been reading articles in old women's magazines. 'Twenty ways to keep your man'. That couldn't be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he'll care.
I want it to hurt.
Paula has had Robert's back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he's one of the nation's most popular actors. And Paula's just discovered he's having an affair.
She's going to remind Robert just what he's sacrificing. And then she's going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever.
Revenge is sweet. Isn't it?
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I was in need of a feel good, humorous read that I could curl up with and this definitely did the trick. It's witty and funny with enough extra twists and last minute revelations to make it a very satisfying read. Fallon's characters are engaging, well developed and even those with an extra bit of colour remain believable rather than becoming too comical or too caricatured.
I wasn't really quite sure what to expect when I started the book but I was instantly made to feel very at home with Paula's honest and open narrative that had me grinning from the outset. The book begins by very effortlessly painting a picture of a family (their daughter Georgia is 18) who are very comfortable with each other and very at ease. This is a couple who have been together a long time and Paula has never considered needing to hide anything from Robert because there is nothing to hide, nor would there ever be. Then she realises that he is having an affair. From the outset, she tries to mask her upset and carry on as normal, not wanting him to know she knows so she can carry out a master plan of revenge.
"Thank God for my drama-school training. Although we never actually did a class called 'How to convince your husband everything's fine when in actual fact you want to stab him with a fork.' Remind me. If I ever become a drama tutor, that'll be my first assignment."
The reader and Paula get to know each other well as Paula fills us in with the last 20 years of marriage, the fact she gave up her career for him to have his, how they have drifted, how she works in a bakery and how she is not like the glamorous young women Robert is surrounded by at work. Not that she's a victim or a someone needing our pity - she's too strong for that and it's not that kind of story. She's grounded and realistic. Paula is hurt, but more focussed on revenge so she begins to search out some answers about Saskia, the 'other' woman with the help of her boss; the blunt, straight talking Myra.
"Hypothetically, if you were going to hide something in your home that you didn't want anyone else to find, where would you hide it?"
"Are you talking about Robert?"
Throughout the novel there are lots of references to acting as obviously most of the main characters are actors, but this also works really well with the whole concept of the story as everyone is putting on an act to everyone else and, as an onlooker, it is really entertaining to sit back and watch as people try to keep their masks held tightly against their faces and try to remember who they are pretending to be to who and why. Paula is by far the one most worthy of a BAFTA! Outstanding!
Although Paula is a woman who has spent the last twenty years in the shadows and on the sidelines, she is perceptive, intelligent and full of surprises. She is focused and ironically seizes life in a way she hasn't before as she carries out her cunning and clever plan to entrap Robert and Saskia. Her resolve is fascinating and her attempts to lose weight that begin as comical, full of self loathing and hopelessness soon develop into something that shows how much commitment and determination Paula has. She sets off on a path that is purely built on a destination of revenge but actually there are a few detours along the way which show not just how Paula is changing as a result of her master plan, but how many hidden talents she has. I really really liked her and I really really enjoyed the first person narrative. Fallon strikes a perfect balance between shrewd, candid comments and more vulnerable, sensitive observations. I felt like I really connected with Paula and I smiled a lot as she told me her story.
I could share lots of passages that made me laugh, that were very visual and entertaining, that made me cringe for a character or that made me tense or worried but I don't want to spoil them for you. And just when you think the story might be in danger of becoming a little pedestrian, Fallon shakes it up by introducing a new point of view which then stirs up a few delicious twists ready for the final act - those essential plot twists that also keep us hooked by soap operas and mini series.
The tone of the novel is light and Fallon has clearly had a lot of fun with characters like Josh, Saskia's husband -the TV show's scriptwriter. I mean, he couldn't be in a better position than this when trying to seek revenge as he is the man who controls the looks, popularity and future of Robert and Saskia's screen characters and acting careers. A role where he can enjoy misusing his power to help carry out a very cold dish of revenge!
Saskia is also well conceived. Outwardly shallow, predictably vain and hilariously contemporary with her hot yoga and quinoa salads, she has a few surprises up her White Company sleeves for us which make the final denouement even more full of suspense and tension.
I'm not going to write any more - not because it isn't possible to write a longer, more detailed review and not because the book isn't worthy of one, but because actually I just really enjoyed "My Sweet Revenge". I think that the best way to for me to praise this book is simply to tell you buy it, get a big slice of cake, a cup of tea, a moment of peace and a comfy spot and then read it! Just be mindful of those crumbs and spillages when you spit out cake and knock your drink over from laughing too much!
Here's to 2017; here's to Paula, here's to being bold, making changes, being the person you want to be and not just acting out a role anymore. Here's to "My Sweet Revenge" storming up the charts as a great feel good read which will bring a splash of sunshine to those cold, grey January days.
"My Sweet Revenge" by Jane Fallon publishes on 12th January with Penguin.
I see Fallon has written many more novels so I'm looking forward to storing a few of those up for a rainy day!
- Getting Rid of Matthew
- Got You Back
- The Ugly Sister
- Strictly Between Us
- This Life
- 20 things to do before you're 30
And you can follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)