The Good Wife, by Elizabeth Buchan (Penguin, £15.99)

goodwife‘Never judge a book by its cover’ may be old advice, but it’s also a tempting piece of self-deception when you’re browsing the books section of a charity shop, feeling in need of an easy read.

The twee cover of The Good Wife shouts Chick-lit for Forty-somethings, with a little line of squeaky-clean washing suspended between two arty trees, beneath which a cat is dozing on the remaining washing in a basket. So, being somewhat over forty and not having read Elizabeth Buchan before, I bought it.

It soon becomes apparent that Fanny (short for Francesca in this case), the Good Wife of the title, does indeed consider herself to be a good wife to her husband, Will. But Will is about to stand for Parliament, and politicians’ wives are expected to take on the duties of that role. Fanny dislikes the prospect of endless coffee mornings and listening to Will’s heart-searching about his ambitions and his Party’s policies, and so the stage is set for her to walk out and take over her father’s wine business – a world which she has loved all her life.

But fortunately for my expectations, it’s not as simple as that. Descriptions of the minutiae of life in politics rang true and were fascinating in the first half of the book. Fanny has the additional problem of her alcoholic sister-in-law coming to live with them, but although this should provide extra incentive for her to go, her loyalty to Will keeps her there. Unfortunately, as the book passes the half-way mark and the inevitable crises encroach on the marriage, Fanny’s indecision gets a bit tedious. Her interest in the wine business (initiating too much detail about wines) almost resolves the situation, but somehow I didn’t find the ending convincing.

 Viv Apple

Viv Apple is a member of Nottingham Poetry Society and Nottingham Writers’ Club

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