on 15 August 2014
The book opens with a real kick as a drunken Maya falls under a bus leaving a distraught husband, Adrian, to cope with the aftermath. However as Maya is the eponymous third wife, he still has his previous two wives and combined families to offer him support. The big question he is struggling with is was her death accidental or premeditated.
It would appear that Adrian liked everything in his garden to be rosy, and encouraged all of his wives and children to get along. On the face of it, it would seem that this was what happened. Maya's death however casts a doubt onto how happy his wives and offspring actually were with the situation.
A further complication is the appearance of the mysterious Jane who is not all she appears to be and her stalkerish behaviour raises questions as to her involvement or not with Maya's death.
I was quickly drawn into the book but my enthusiasm began to wane slightly about halfway through. Essentially I couldn't warm to the character of Adrian, who was exceedingly self centred and seemed incapable of seeing women as anything but potential conquests. I wasn't too bothered about the wider family either, the children, were for the most part not particularly likeable and at some stage most family members appeared as likely candidates for the action that might have contributed to Maya's death
It was my desire to find out what really happened to Maya, and who the mysterious Jane was that kept me going to the end, rather than any interest in the rest of the characters. Sadly I found the ending unrealistic and contrived which for me let the book down further.
I think my real problem with the book is that it fell between two stools, in that it was a mixture of chic lit meets thriller and sadly it just didn't work for me.
I received a free copy of this title via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Adrian is one of the golden gang of men who sincerely believe/ fool themselves that as long as they are happy with the way things are, well everyone else must surely agree.
His ex wives give every impression of managing without him, they are sterling sorts who get on with life after he, smoothly, he thinks, disengages himself from his two marriages. Susie and Caroline have both been left for the next new model. Seemingly seamless transitions hardly affect Uber Architect Adrian's peace of mind.
However third time is not lucky and the debris is flying. Told partly in the past and partly in the present, the tale unwinds from two sides. Maya dies on the first page so there's no spoiler there. The frame of mind in which she leaves the world is worth investigating though, as pressures have been brought to bear from all quarters.
He ponders and puzzles, sometimes coming up with some pertinent revelations. I enjoyed his tracts of thoughts on the whole and liked the way we got inside his mixed up head. There are touching, intuitive moments, interaction with his five children Luke, Cat, Otis, Pearl and Beau who all come alive and pop off the page delightfully.
The most significant, most flagged up mystery is carried right through on the premise that it could have been any of them whodunnit. Sadly this is a damp squib which I think rather wastes the reader's time and sympathy. Cyber bullying cannot be dismissed as easily as it is here.
Reading this book is a reasonable way to pass the time while mulling over contemporary personal dilemmas but it doesn't leave much of an impression or a desire to recommend beyond that level of a relaxing read.
The idea behind this novel is good and quite different. Adrian has had three wives and over time the three families have merged. As with any extended family there are bickerings and niggles but also a general sense of belonging in most cases. Everything certainly seems to be working out until, suddenly, wife number three, Maya, dies in a particularly nasty accident while drunk. Adrian is left with the awful job of not only of grieving but also of clearing up all of the other emotional fallout from Maya's death. This proves to be far from straight forward.
Maya's death opens up one huge can of worms for the family especially as there's no exact explanation for what happened. The plot offers up some decent tension as it winds itself around the means of her death, was it intentional/accidental/was she pushed, and who exactly is the shadowy character Jane?. What does she want?.
There's not much more to the plot in terms of action. What follows is the slow uncovering of a mystery and the close examination of possible motive. Is this really the well balanced family we've been led to believe in or might there be murderous intent lurking in the shadows?.
For me, just a personal opinion, the first half of the book, the scene setting. was better than what came afterwards. I was hooked into the story at first and was enjoying it but; I found the character of Adrian becoming more difficult to like or connect with. I ended up not really caring one way or another what happened to Adrian because he's so self absorbed. That sort of took the edge off the rest of the book for me.
'Third Wife' is a bumpy read with as many highs as lows. Some of the novel is good while other parts, particularly the characterisation, are weaker. On this occasion I can't give more than 3*.
on 16 June 2015
Another excellent book by Lisa Jewel. I stayed up very late to finish it . It was impossible to put down.
It's a story about a family ..but a strange extended family, where the main character has married three times, and remained on friendly terms with each of his two previous wives, and the five children he fathered between them .
He is a happy man, who has followed his passions, and also, by remaining Mr 'nice guy' provided for his children and wives and made sure they live in beautiful houses, ensuring no bad feelings.
Adrian ( the husband) and third wife Maya , over fourteen years his junior, are even planning a baby " another little person to love" in this large, all embracing family.
Adrian sees all his wives and children getting on wonderfully, and feels that he 'has it all' .
However, Maya goes out one night and gets drunk. On her way home, she is struck by a night bus and dies.
Adrian is grief stricken, but as his grief mends and he is visited by a mysterious woman....his whole life unravels, and he has to face the truth. A truth he has never dreamed off.
This is another difficult one to review. I did enjoy the book, and read it very quickly, but it was very unsatisfying with a hugely frustrating ending.
Adrian, aged 47, is, everyone agrees, a nice chap but he's addicted to love. So he marries Susie, has two children with her, then ups and leaves for Caroline, has three children with her then hooks up with sweet Maya, who dies in the first pages of this book. It turns out that there's a lot of bitterness and unhappiness bubbling away beneath the seemingly happy facade of the Wolf family and Maya is the victim of the badness erupting.
It's almost a very good book. Written mainly in dialogue, the characters are compelling (not the same as pleasant) with the exception of Adrian who I found dull as ditchwater. And that's the main problem with The Third Wife, we spend most of our time with Adrian who is dull, self-pitying, boring and so annoying.
I also found the ending completely disappointing and unsatisfying when with just a small rewrite of the last two paragraphs to make Adrian do what he wanted to do, it could have been so much punchier.
In my opinion, this was not the page turner that other reviewers claim it to be.
It is well-written and the characterisation was good but I felt the plot was very weak. I was waiting on the revelation of some big secret which when it arrived emtirely failed to wow and was a total anticimax. The theme of selfishness was really too much common knowledge to be dealt with in a novel like this and, therefore, there was no didactic element. I am not trying to say that we should leave all novels having been enlightened in some way but if the plot is weak and the writer is dealing mainly with a theme then it should be more subtle than here.
This was a pleasant enough read but lacked a good story or any depth and I would not rush to read anything else by this writer.
I loved Lisa Jewell's 'The House We Grew Up In' and went straight out to buy more of her books. Sadly, this was a real disappointment. The novel revolves around Adrian Wolff, an architect who has the perfect life: prosperous business, a wife from his twenties, thirties and forties (this third, Maya, is substantially younger than him and pleasingly girlish) and five fine children (OK, the youngest boys are called Otis and Beau, but you can't have everything). Adrian ensures that his families all adore each other, including the wives, and take group holidays together. All is wonderful - except that it isn't, because one night Adrian's lovely Maya gets paralytically drunk and falls under a bus. Was it suicide? And even if it wasn't, what could have driven Maya to drink a bottle of vodka? Gradually, Adrian begins to uncover family secrets, including a series of very nasty anonymous letters from a family member to Maya, and his adult son Luke's hidden passion - and realizes that his family life wasn't all sweetness and light after all. Could Maya's death bring the family back together? Or will it tear them irrevocably apart?
I think this story was meant to be a warm-hearted exploration of Adrian's gradual self-discovery. Unfortunately, the character came across as at best a total plonker, and at worst, to quote Kipling 'a thoroughly mean and selfish weak man'. I was speechless at the character's self-love, and his conviction that his wives and children would rejoice in whatever he did (including marital break-ups) as long as he was happy - and at his calm assurance that his young third wife would be happy to act as a sort of unpaid maid to the rest of the family. Much was made of his grief, but we didn't actually see him grieving much - he was eyeing up the mysterious 'Jane' after one encounter, and most of his mourning seemed to be about 'poor me, now I'm alone' rather than missing Maya. Why his wives bothered with him I could not understand. Mind you, the first two at least were very strange characters - Susie was badly underdeveloped, and Caroline veered crazily between fashionista ice-maiden and warm earth mother, sorting everything out. Maya was the most detailed portrait of a Wolff wive and Jewell certainly made the reader pity her situation - but on the other hand, I found her conclusion that she'd married Adrian 'on a whim for some security' made her seem both stupid and selfish - passion is passion, and love is love, but breaking up a family 'on a whim' when you don't really love the man in question seems perverse. One might have taken the children's side, had not they (with the exceptions of Luke and Pearl, who were quite well portrayed) been so horrific: Otis and Beau were spoilt little brats, and Cat a twenty-something bully with the emotional intelligence of a violent toddler.
All this meant that the family's rapprochements were not moving at all, but merely irritating. At times - as when Adrian told his children that 'everything you've ever done wrong is my fault' - I wondered if Jewell actually intended the novel to be some sort of black farce. The orgies of self-love - no one was to blame for anything because Adrian was, and he wasn't to blame because they all loved him so much - got sickening. The dismissal of the anonymous letter-writing (when Adrian found out the culprit) along the lines of 'please don't worry, she really didn't mind and it wasn't because of that that she died' was ridiculous - any husband who really did read that sort of filth written about his wife would be furious, and find forgiveness difficult. Adrian's reaction to Luke's little secret, along the lines of 'oh well, never mind, my fault for being a rubbish dad' was equally preposterous. The final message seemed to be that Maya had done a mighty fine thing by falling under a bus, which I thought was incredibly bad taste.
The novel does have the advantages of being very readable, of containing some nice descriptions of London, and of setting up two mysteries right at the start which ensure you go on reading. But on the whole it's a rather trivial book, peopled with nasty, shallow characters, which seriously trivializes the position of third wives (who are often caring women who have to handle tricky situations). It is, in the end, the sort of book that makes one wonder if feminism's really had any effect. Lisa Jewell can do much better than this.
on 28 July 2014
Don't get me wrong, I love Lisa Jewell, most certainly a very good author, love many of her books. Not this book though. I've given it 2 stars because its well written, she is skillful and there is no denying that.
No spoilers here - but that does make it harder to review.
The story is based on an extended family - extended because of Adrian and his desire for women - the title itself gives this away ' the 3rd wife,. Thats more or less it.
I don't like Adrian. I don't like his children and i didn't get to know his wives. The 'mystery' woman's tale was pointless. The story went nowhere - and as for the ending - please don't get me started. NO, thats what i say to that ending, NO way! The whole thing was bland. Took me a while to get into - which is surprising for Lisa Jewell as she is an easy read - but then once i got into it - nothing happened - sometimes thats ok, i'm not against books that just amble along and tell a family tale - but this was really weak.
It kept promising things - and didn't deliver on any of them. I think lisa must have been in one heck of a rush to finish it - because it really does just end (and in a manner i cannot accept at all - NO way)!!
I don't always like Lisa's characters, never did take to Jem in 'after the party' but she does usually write a really good, unexpected book. This has got to be her worst - i may not look forward to her next one quite so much next time!
Lisa Jewell's latest novel sounds like it's usually captivating read. I love her stories, about real people going through real problems, and the way she writes these stories is incredibly readable. I was really excited to get a copy of her new book The Third Wife through NetGalley, and was very much looking forward to reading it. It follows the story of the family of recently deceased Maya, who died after walking in front of a bus one evening without explanation. Her widower Adrian is struggling to understand Maya's motives, and his children are dealing with the loss of yet another female in their lives. As Adrian begins to look into Maya's tragic demise, he begins to find that Maya wasn't as happy as he was led to believe... what devastating secrets is Adrian going to uncover, and with what consequences?
As you can see, this is a pretty dark book. There definitely isn't a lot of happiness in here - usually in Lisa's books there is something a bit lighter, something to make you see a light at the end of the tunnel but I really struggled to find that in this book. Add this to the fact that I really didn't like any of the characters in this book - it meant that this book didn't live up to my expectations, especially when Lisa's last few novels have been incredible reads. Perhaps they set my expectation barrier too high, but there was something about this novel that didn't sit right with me, and I did struggle with it at times, wondering if I would begin to like any character, or even care where the story was going.
Although the story is centred around Maya, we only meet her briefly through some flashbacks in the book, detailing some of the secrets she is with-holding from Adrian, and how she deals (or rather doesn't) with them. I couldn't really sum up any feeling for her either way, she was too absent in the book to care for strongly, and therefore I struggled to get invested in her story. Then there's her husband Adrian. Wow, what a guy. Not in a good way. He's married 3 women, had a few children with each of them except for Maya, and seems to think they all enjoy being one big happy family, simply because it is what he wants, regardless of what his children or ex-wives really want. I hated him - he's everything that is wrong with the male species and their expectations for family and relationships. I hated his attitude towards his wives - when he's bored, he'll end it but keep them all sweet and all loving together, I had no sympathy or anything towards him, and this made reading a book around him quite difficult.
The children of Adrian and his other ex-wives feature heavily in the book, but again they just weren't nice people, even the younger ones. Usually, children in books are loveable and add a bit of humour and light to a book but not in this case. None of them had many redeeming features at all, they were all affected by their parents, their "role models" for the future, and it was a bit sad to read how messed up they were. There was a bit of a mystery storyline about a character called "Jane" running throughout the book, this was well-written and held my interest. I was curious to find out who Jane was, I had a few guesses but was wrong - I'm glad this part of the story was there because it was a shining light for me in the book.
I really struggled with this review, I feel so disappointed to be giving a Lisa Jewell novel anything but a glowing review, but this was just not up to her usual standard for me. With a cast of dislikeable people, and consequently a story I struggled to connect with, this book just did not work for me at all and I found myself getting frustrated with the awful Adrian and his strange family. The story dragged on a bit for me, I felt it lost its way in the middle a bit and sort of forgot where it was meant to be going - and the ending for me wasn't good at all, I didn't like it one bit. I can whole-heartedly recommend any of Lisa Jewell's other books, particularly The House We Grew Up In or Before I Met You - those are stunning reads. Sadly, for me, this isn't Jewell's best work - I hope her next book is back to her best.
on 17 February 2015
The Third Wife wasn't what I expected. I think I expected a chilling who-dunnit. I found the book to be a little slow. It wasn't very exciting or thrilling. I didn't like Adrian at all and I didn't find it believable that 3 broken families could get on so peacefully and happily (I guess that's the point of the book!). It was an easy read with an ok story line but nothing blew me away or shocked/surprised me.