Adrian Wolfe, a charming, middle-aged three-times married man is addicted to being in love. Married in his twenties to first wife Susie, the mother of two of his five children: Luke and Cat, he then falls in love with the beautiful Caroline, leaves Susie and their two young children, and starts all over again with Caroline. After several years of seemingly happy marriage to Caroline, and three children later - Otis, Pearl and baby Beau - Adrian, now in his mid-forties, gets itchy feet and moves on yet again to pastures new with the petite, red-haired Maya. Adrian tells himself that he is a lucky man and that everything has worked out for the best - all three wives get on well with one another; the whole family go on holiday with each other every summer; the children appear to have coped well with the many changes in their lives; and now Adrian and Maya are trying for baby number six to add to the happy clan.
However, nothing is actually quite what it seems - Maya has been receiving poison emails addressed to: 'Dear Bitch', Adrian's children are all, in their own ways, suffering from Adrian putting his own happiness before theirs, and then one night a very unhappy Maya, out on her own, drinks a huge amount of vodka and falls in front of a bus and is killed. Was it suicide? An accident? Or was she driven to her death? (No spoilers- we learn about Maya's death right at the beginning of the book and the rest of the information I have revealed appears early on in the book). Now that he is on his own for the first time in his life, Adrian gradually discovers that his seemingly perfect life, is not perfect at all and that his selfish actions have consequences that cannot just be charmed away. And then an unusual and very attractive young woman seems to be stalking Adrian - but who is she? And what does she want?
With her later novels, in particular: The House We Grew Up In and Before I Met You (both of which I have read), Lisa Jewell has been trying to move away from the 'chick lit' label she feels has been inaccurately applied to her early novels, and has now entered into the psychological thriller arena with 'The Third Wife' - a decision which, according to an interview I read with the author, she began to doubt during the writing of this book; and I must admit that although rather readable, this novel did not really have the intensity or the amount of plot twists normally found in a psychological thriller. That said, Adrian's character, with his immaturity, his selfish brand of charm and his insistence on ignoring what he does not want to see, was described well, and I found that Maya's situation of trying to fit in with Adrian's large family and how she became increasingly dismayed by her own submissiveness and acquiescence, was portrayed well also. However I do have to confess to not enjoying this novel as much as either of the author's previous two novels and I felt the ending of this story was too neatly resolved, so in the light of this, I will be looking with interest to see which direction Lisa Jewell takes for her next fictional outing.