The First Wife

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The First Wife , Emily Barr, book reviewI am a huge fan of the writer Emily Barr and have pretty much read all of her books. Her latest book, The First Wife, is another great read, with lots of intrigue and mystery. However, some of her earlier books such as ‘The Sisterhood’ and ‘Out of My Depth’ are brilliant and take a lot of living up to! I don’t think that The First Wife ranks as highly as these but it is another top book all the same.

The First Wife is about a young woman called Lily who has not had the easiest of starts in life. Abandoned by her selfish parents as a child, she spent her teenage years looking after her ailing grandparents who die within a few months of each other when she is eighteen. Unfortunately, she is left with very little and having had a sheltered upbringing struggles to deal with life on her own in the big wide world. She takes on a few cleaning jobs and is soon befriended by Harry and Sarah Summers, a couple for whom she cleans. Suddenly and shockingly though, on a Christmas holiday in Barcelona, Sarah takes her own life and on his return Harry turns more and more to Lily for support and solace. Before long, they are a couple and engaged, but heading towards the wedding, Lily becomes concerned that things, particularly surrounding Sarah’s death, are not what they seem. As her doubts increase, she starts wondering whether she really knows Harry and whether she really likes the things that she does know.

What starts of as a reasonably easy read becomes increasingly tense and suspenseful as Lily’ investigations take her to Barcelona, the place of Sarah’s death. What she discovers is surprising and alarming and I was gripped needing to know what would happen next. The pace increases after a relatively slow start and this kept me wanting to read on.

Another story is also going on across the other side of the world in New Zealand. Jack is restless and although he loves his three children, finds life increasingly difficult with his wife. When he discovers that she has been cheating on him with most of his mates, it is his opportunity to leave and to travel. As I was reading I could not quite work out how these two story lines would converge but of course they eventually do in a quite surprising way.

Although I felt that The First Wife started a bit slowly, it did really hook me in and I enjoyed reading it. I thought that the character of Lily was intriguing and it was easy to feel for her when she started having suspicions about Harry. Emily Barr only reveals what she wants her reader to know when she wants them to know and that makes it a clever plot that is likely to keep one guessing until the very last pages.

Although I don’t think that The First Wife is necessarily Emily Barr’s best book I would definitely recommend it, but I would recommend books like ‘Plan B’ and ‘Out of My Depth’ more.

The First Wife by Emily Barr
Paperback published by Headline, September 2011
With thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy.

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First Wife, The
by Emily Barr

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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