Extended Family Humour

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 The Ex-wives by Deborah MoggachThe Ex-Wives by Deborah Moggach is one of the author’s many contemporary novels.  However, she is most well known for an historical novel called Tulip Fever, set in 17th century Amsterdam.

The Ex-Wives opens with the central character of Buffy (Russell Buffery), an actor, feeling old and sorry for himself.

He has ex-wives, as well as other partners he hasn’t married, children and step-children and now has to quite literally pay for his past “mistakes”.

As someone who has started to feel the aches and pains of getting old myself, I found the explanations of some of his “problems” comically entertaining.

When he meets a young woman called Celeste, who is an assistant at his local pharmacist, Buffy hopes that prescriptions dispensed by her can help him feel younger again.

The comic and mysterious relationship that grew between Buffy and Celeste had me hoping for a happy ending.

There was a happy ending for most of the characters, including Buffy and Celeste, but not the most obvious romantic one.

I thought most of the plot was very plausible. A glaring exception to this was a sub-plot about pet rabbits. As an owner of just one pet rabbit, I know that the author well under-estimated the “mischief” that a family of them could do, if left alone in a flat with no appropriate housing. This funny part of the plot could have either been made even more amusing, or ended in disaster, if the author has done a bit more research. In my experience, house rabbits would electrocute themselves, or would cause a lot more damage than suggested, if appropriate precautions aren’t taken. If the worst thing that they did was eat the Christmas dinner vegetables, I would be astonished.

As for George, the dog on the front cover, he is Buffy’s pet. He is credibly portrayed as having some of the “senior” characteristics as his owner.

“Having experienced all these locations, I appreciated how well the author expressed the differences between the urban and rural settings.”

The book is written so that readers experience life through the thoughts and actions of the various main characters. As the book starts off with Buffy, I got the impression that I was reading a book by a male author, but when I first experienced the life of one of the main female characters, I checked on the sex of the author out of curiosity. The fact that Deborah Moggach tricked me into thinking that the writer was male, at the beginning of the book, proved to me that she is better at seeing a male’s point of view than most of the female authors I have read.

This light-hearted read contains many funny scenes, as well as giving a good insight into the feelings of the individual characters.

I was interested to find out that the author had a partner who, like Buffy, had several ex-wives, assorted step-children, and an ability to find himself in situations that others may find funny.

I lived and worked in London for twenty years, moved to a smaller town, and now escape to the countryside whenever a get the chance. Having experienced all these locations, I appreciated how well the author expressed the differences between the urban and rural settings. Her words took me there with the characters, most of whom I grew to like as I learnt to understand them better.

I found the plot well paced and interesting. At the ending the plot sped up and changed locations quickly, giving the feeling of a crescendo finale, which I much appreciated, and left me feeling happy and satisfied.

I found this a good light-hearted, humorous, contemporary read about extended families, with realistic characters, and a plot that held my attention.


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Ex-Wives (The)
by Deborah Moggach

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