Monday, April 21, 2014
My thoughts 4 Stars
THE OTHER HALF is a thoroughly modern tale of an affair told by Maggie and Chloe, wife and mistress. Some things never really change. Maggie Slater, wife to James or Jamie as she calls him. Maggie is tall, blonde, classic and understated. Maggie is reserved and controlled. She also manipulates and controls Jamie in every way she can. Maggie is thirty-nine and wants another child. She refuses to acknowledge that Jamie doesn’t share that desire. Jamie, though he adores him now, wasn’t thrilled when Maggie became pregnant with their son Nathan so she’s confident he’ll come around. After all, she’s created the perfect life for them, hasn’t she? Chloe Appleton, mistress of James, never calls him Jamie. Chloe is petite, has dark curly/wavy hair, and a voluptuous hourglass figure. Her wardrobe leans toward flaunt it. She’s vivacious, ambitious, and ten years younger than Maggie. Chloe meets James when she pitches her idea for a new magazine to him. She knows James is married but can’t stop herself from yielding to their amazing sexual chemisty. Chloe is often reckless and guided by her emotions. Jean is Maggie’s best friend and Chloe’s boss. Your quintessential career woman, Jean adores her friends’ children but wants none of her own. She’s blunt, driven, and honest. Rob is Chloe’s gay best friend. They’ve shared an apartment and their lives for years. Rob is a good friend to Chloe and tells her the truth even when she doesn’t want to hear it. Alex is Maggie’s ex. He’s recently divorced and has maintained a friendship with Maggie and James. Alex obviously still loves and wants Maggie any way he can have her. Beth is James’ ex. We never meet her but Chloe’s resemblance to her is a driving force. James is a publisher at UK Magazines; big shot successful businessman. James is mostly seen through his interactions with Maggie and Chloe, through their eyes. Each woman satisfies a different need for James and he doesn’t want to let either go. From London to New York James and Chloe live large while Maggie and Nathan are tucked away in the village of Shere. Maggie does freelance work, occasionally but not often traveling into the city. Feeling restless, fighting dissatisfaction and an inner niggling Maggie yearns to break out of the predictable box she’s fallen into. Maggie’s decision to return to her journalistic roots puts her on a collision course with Chloe. THE OTHER HALF will put you through your paces emotionally especially if you, personally, have ever been part of the infidelity equation. Each character is depicted realistically, warts and all. No one is skewed to be the “bad guy” or shoulder the bulk of the blame. Ms. Rayner allows the reader to decide whom they wish to side with, if any of them. I found this approach refreshing because so many are written with a slight bias toward one or another. The characters and situation are complex and messy. In all honesty I didn’t care much for Chloe, Maggie, or James. I really liked Jean; she was both a good friend and, all considered, professional as she had to work with both James and Chloe. I also liked Rob. He was brutally honest with Chloe while standing ready to pick up the pieces if need be, a true friend. At the end of the day Chloe deserved kudos for being the most honest player in this tawdry game; Maggie not so much. As for James, I was hard pressed to see what, once you got past his good looks and surface charm, appealed to Maggie and Chloe. THE OTHER HALF, it’s real and we can’t help but be drawn to it, like rubbernecking at an accident. Do we read theses stories because we’re compelled by a visceral desire to experience all the thrill and danger of an affair without the consequences? So we can feel morally superior? To develop a better understanding of the root causes for affairs? Or is it just because they make for deeply emotional, sexually exciting, roller coaster reads? Whatever the reason THE OTHER HALF is an absorbing, thoroughly enjoyable read.
So, affair/triangle books or no? Not talking Menage a trois triangles here, I'm talking cheating books. Confess I'm fascinated by them, drawn like a moth to a flame. Anybody else count themselves in on this guilty pleasure?
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