Wife Living Stupidly

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Wife Living Dangerously By (author) Debra KentThe slippery slope of deceit and bad behaviour is a steep one and one on which it’s hard to turn back once you’re heading down hill. Bob Dylan once wrote a song about an affair and described is as :

“A bad motorcycle with the devil in the seat, Going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street”

It starts gently – in Julia’s case it’s a simple case of mixing her glass bottles in with the plastics in the recycling bin. Then it accelerates through illegally down-loading music off the internet and not telling cashiers who make a mistake in her favour. Of course there’s nowhere else it could possibly end up than in the arms of a professor of Medieval literature. It’s inevitable really – and that’s not a plot spoiler. In the second paragraph of this book, our ‘heroine’ has already revealed her affair so there’s no ‘will they, won’t they’ to look forward to, just another 273 pages of ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Julia is a perfect example of suburban wife and mother with a successful husband, three beautiful children and a pleasant home. She has an interesting and fulfilling job working at an institute that studies sexual behaviour (how bizarre! – the job that is, not the idea of studying sexual behaviour) and a great circle of friends. So why should she feel that something is missing from her life? She and her friends get together, over-indulge in alcohol and then light their ‘Candle of Truth’, challenging each other to reveal some or other dirty secret. Julia can’t come up with anything naughtier than telling them she put on lip-gloss when she knew the parcel delivery man with the pony tail and the ‘great ass’ was due to arrive at her house. She wasn’t trying to seduce him; she just wanted to look nice. Her friends can’t contain their derision. Placing her hand on a Bible she’s told to take an oath that she will “live dangerously” and so she sets out to do just that.

Which of course raises questions in the minds of the reader: ‘What’s wrong with being a little bit dull? What’s wrong with being a decent, honest, clean-living human being? And what’s so aspirational about cheating on your husband?

“There may be many women who’ll pick up this book and think ‘My life could be more exciting’ – I can only hope they’ll take up paragliding or Chinese lessons…”

Julia’s husband is having his own mid-life crisis. He’s joined a band and is playing his sax with a bunch of old friends, out every weekend playing in bars and clubs and reliving a youth he never had the chance to enjoy because he was studying so hard to become a lawyer. Now that’s a midlife crisis I can relate to. Rushing off to shag a good looking history professor who believes in the medieval concept of courtly love just doesn’t make sense to me. I know we’re supposed to side with the heroine in a book like this but I just wanted to slap her and say “Can’t you see how stupid you are being?” Affairs based on overwhelming and irresistible lust make some kind of sense, those based on neglect or abuse in the marriage are also understandable, but doing it with the intention of being more interesting must be the stupidest reason known to woman-kind for putting your family in jeopardy.

You’ll have guessed no doubt by this point that I’m not a fan of chick lit in general, and even more opposed to tomes about middle-class mid-life angst. The world is full of topics worth writing about – starving children, battered wives, homeless people living on the streets and when lined up against those, the silly pathetic affair of a woman old enough and smart enough to know better adds very little to the sum of human entertainment or endeavour. The bookshelves of the nation are filled with much more fulfilling and inventive tales of affairs and the conflict they create which are much more worth reading than this superficial nonsense. There’s absolutely no examination of the pros and cons of getting yourself into such a mess, no sense of thought about the possible consequences, just a jolly ‘Here we go’ and she’s off and running.

There may be many women who’ll pick up this book and think ‘My life could be more exciting’ – I can only hope they’ll take up paragliding or Chinese lessons instead of chasing down the first available handsome semi-stranger for some furtive fumbling. The ‘love interest’ in this one is too good to be true and so one-dimensional that he adds no depth or breadth to the issues raised. There’s no need for me to go into too much detail so I’ll keep this brief – this is a nasty little book that doesn’t deserve your attention.

Wife Living Dangerously by Debra Kent, 273pp

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Wife Living Dangerously
by Debra Kent

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Written by koshkha

Koshkha has a busy international job that gives her lots of time sitting on planes and in hotel rooms reading books. Despite averaging about 3 books a week, she probably has enough on her ‘to be read’ shelves to keep her going for a good few years and that still doesn’t stop her scouring the second hand books shops and boot-fairs of the land for more. At weekends she lives with her very lovely husband and three cats, but during the week she lives alone like a mad spinster aunt. She will read just about anything about or set in India, despises chick-lit, doesn’t ‘get’ sci fi and vampire ‘stuff’ and has just ordered a Kindle despite swearing blind that she never would.

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