Author: Eileen Goudge
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: March 2012
Genre: Adult Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
Camille, matchmaker by trade, wife and mother of two, has been informed that she has terminal cancer. After her last war with cancer only a little while ago, she finds herself facing the inevitable- death and a severe and traumatic loss for her husband and children.
So what does she do?
Put her matchmaking skills to good use to find her replacement.
Only what she finds isn't what she's looking for.
I have very mixed feelings about this book.
The story is complicated, with a lot of revolving characters. All of them were well crafted, full and interesting. The secondary characters had a lot of time on the page and I was easily absorbed into each of their dramas and searches for love.
The writing is smooth and easy. Goudge knows how to draw her readers in and keep them there. I couldn't put the book down all weekend. The effortlessly spun tale was suddenly all around me and I couldn't escape it; I was fully absorbed in the novel. I had to know what happens.
That said, I had a hard time with the characters.
First I should make it known I knew it was going to be a sensitive subject for me. While I could deduce from the synopsis this story was going to have a lot of ups and downs, overall, marital discord is not one of my favorite topics. (I still have a very uneasy feeling thinking about reading Revolutionary Road, three years ago. Don't even get me started on the film.)
Camille, while her intentions may be good, is incredibly unlikeable. She suffers from martyrdom and guilt at the same time, laying blame to her faithful and honorable husband for her suffering. Snippets of their marriage are inserted through the novel, layering their complicated relationship and struggles through her sickness. All of these were hard to swallow, bearing witness to the elated happiness which was contrasted by the current state of their union.
Being married myself, and the jealous type, I cannot fathom taking the steps she took in order to ensure her family's happiness once she is gone. I could not relate to her. But still, and this goes for Goudge's writing, I was still rooting for her. Up till the very end. Even when I couldn't stand her.
Her husband, Edward, seems too good to be true. And as the novel continues, his confusion and anger is something I could relate to. His wife is dying and she wants to pawn another women onto him, whether he wants one or not.
Without giving too much away, the third character I sympathized with was not someone I thought I would. I'm not sure if that's because Goudge made her so full and real, or if I was so sick of Camille and her meddling "good intentions". Maybe a little bit of both.
Overall, The Replacement Wife is a well written, complex novel about life, love and the choices we make. But it still felt to me like a car crash. I felt a sick and twisted feeling watching it unfold, but I could not look away. That is excellent writing.
Rating 8 Cookie Worthy