Wives & Lovers by Jane Elizabeth Varley

wives-lovers.jpgOrion. 410 pages.

Admittedly, I picked this up solely to be a ‘breather’ for my classics craze. It was just a pit stop to go from one classic (Emma) to another (Lord Jim).
Hailed by Australian Women’s Weekly as a Book Club ‘Great Read’, I thought it would be some formulaic love story for  every next-door housewife. True, it has a very feminist theme but its so much more than what the title gives. The front cover one liner says , ‘What it means to be a sister, a wife, and a lover….’ This cliche line also does not do justice for the novel/story. Writing style is fairly good, extremely British and straight. The novel is mainly about three sisters, and each chapter of the book goes from one sister to another.

Victoria, the eldest and most financially successful of the three, married to a suave lawyer/politician who treats her no more than like a personal maid (and to whom she is very submissive to). Smart and no-nonsense Clara, a medical law professor, whose marriage to Tom, a simple activist, hits the slump because of boredom. Then there’s the youngest Annie, who has just recently been widowed, and is battling with severe depression.

Though it’s close to half a thousand pages, its a very easy read, and with a light over all atmosphere–gets quite funny in the end. No heavy dramas or steamy narration (as one would expect from a title like that.) It chronicles how sisters face infidelity, death, success and sorrow yet rise from it all–together.

Even if the novel as a whole is not very striking or best-seller material, after the last page, I found myself missing the overall light atmosphere of the book. It’s a story that every woman needs from time to time.  Bonus points for it not having sickeningly sweet romantic lines or cliche endings.

This is the author’s first novel.

the author, Jane Elizabeth Varley

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