Sunday, June 9, 2013

Book Review: "The Replacement Wife" by Eileen Goudge

I almost gave up on this book* at first because I thought it was going to be too tragic, and I didn't feel strong enough for it right now. I'm glad I stuck with it.

The story involves a woman whose cancer has returned after being in remission.  Her doctor holds out little hope, but offers to try an experimental treatment. At the insistence of her family, the woman submits to the treatment, without much hope. She is a matchmaker by profession, and she decides that before she dies she will to choose the woman who will replace her as wife and mother.

I'm not going to go into any details about the twists and turns that ensue because I hate "spoilers" in reviews.

I will say that I highly recommend the book for its tight plotting and interesting, if not always likable, characters. I found myself most intrigued, however, by the study of a person who tries to control something she shouldn't. It's totally understandable that a dying woman would want to try to ease her family's suffering, and even more understandable that she should want to try to controls something while cancer controls her very life itself. However, trying to control other people's futures is potentially dangerous, to both the person exerting the control and to her family. It is also disrespectful to think that you know better what other people need than they do. I know too many mothers and wives who are tyrants within their families for that very reason, which is one reason the story rang so true.

The woman's efforts to fix her husband up with her choice for his next wife end up having unintended consequences for everyone.  Whether or not there is a happy ending is debatable.

It wasn't a particularly enjoyable read because of the dark subject matter, but it was one of those books that, after I put it down, I thought, "How did she get to there from where she started?"  It was a reading adventure.

Buy it here*.

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