Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Summer Holiday Read, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: The Adulteress (Paperback)
In 1941, a young June Fanning arrives in Cavan with her Irish husband, Robert, an attractive and well-mannered, but unimaginative middle-aged man, and they move into Robert's family home which has been left vacant after the death of his father. June knows that her husband cares for her and that she should appreciate the safety of Ireland compared with wartime London, but she is worried about her beloved sister, Min, who is still in the city, and when Robert throws himself into working on the land and is not very forthcoming when he is at home, June begins to regret moving to Ireland. When Robert decides that he can no longer avoid the fact that Britain is at war, and he joins the RAF, June feels abandoned and alone in the old cottage and when, against Robert's wishes, she becomes friendly with her artist neighbour, Phelim, and discovers things about Robert's past that he has not shared with her, June begins to question her husband's love for her. In the present day we meet musician Nicholas who, shocked to discover his artist wife, Charlie, has been unfaithful to him, moves from their Dublin home to Cavan and takes on the restoration of the old Fanning house. There, Nicholas spends his time renovating the cottage and giving piano lessons to the locals, including the unhappily married Geraldine, who develops feelings for him. Nicholas tries to put his marriage behind him but is haunted by visions of his wife with her lover and is consumed with anger and jealousy, and it is not until he takes the courage and time to reflect on his relationship with Charlie, and look at his contribution to their marriage difficulties, that he can begin to think about moving forward. In a third strand to the novel, in first-person related chapters entitled 'The Adulteress', the reader learns about a young woman, who feeling that her husband does not truly love her, begins an adulterous affair with an artist. (No spoilers - there is a lot more to this story than I have revealed here).

Moving smoothly between the past and the present, this novel made for an entertaining and easy read and one that I enjoyed more in some respects than others, hence the three star rating - which, from me, is not a negative rating, just that I found some aspects of the story more impressive than others. There is a plot twist to the third strand of the story concerning the adulteress, which I did not find difficult to work out, but if you don't discover this twist until it is revealed almost at the end of the book, then this will make the story more intriguing for you. There is also a supernatural element in the present day sections, and although I enjoy a good ghost story when the supernatural is the main focus of the novel, in this instance it made the story seem less convincing to me and I felt the novel could have done without this element to it. All of that said, I very much enjoyed the author's depiction of rural Ireland and its changing seasons and found this aspect of the novel a pleasure to read. I also enjoyed reading about June and Min's Devon childhood and of the closeness of their relationship, which contrasted well with the difficult relationship they experienced with their vain and seemingly cold and unfeeling mother. I was also interested in the way Noelle Harrison gradually revealed details about the girls' mother's life, which explained how she became such a difficult character for the girls to relate to and it was also interesting to read how their mother's character changed as her circumstances altered. In addition, in the Nicholas chapters of the story, I appreciated the way in which the author showed how Nicholas's attitude to Charlie's infidelity shifted once he made the attempt to try and understand their marital problems from her perspective. So, all in all, although there were parts to this story that impressed me more than others, this novel made for an entertaining and undemanding downtime read, and one that if you are looking for easy and enjoyable summer holiday read, could work well for you.
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