Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday: A Review for "The Replacement Wife"

Hey beautiful people!

I came upon this book on Netgalley, and requested it for reading & review because the subject matter hit quite close to home with me, and the premise sounded intriguing and definitely interesting.

Within a few days of requesting to view the galley, someone from the book's publishing house approached me about reviewing the book, and if I'd be willing to take part in its promo by putting up a blog post/review on March 27, the day the book is released.

I'd already decided to read this one, so I agreed. Let me state henceforth that never was I asked, influenced, coerced, influenced in any manner to provide a positive or not-negative review of this book. Any and all opinions expressed further down in this review are mine, and my own only.

Let me put you in the know about this one; here's the blurb:

Camille Hart, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent. So when doctors tell Camille that her cancer is back—and this time it’s terminal—she decides to put her matchmaking expertise to the test for one final job. Seeking stability for her children and happiness for her husband, Camille sets out to find the perfect woman to replace her when she’s gone.

But what happens when a dying wish becomes a case of “be careful what you wish for”? For Edward and Camille, the stunning conclusion arrives with one last twist of fate that no one saw coming.

At once deeply felt and witty, The Replacement Wife is an unforgettable story of love and family, and a refreshing look at the unexpected paths that lead us to our own happy endings.

As you all probably know by now, I'm a 2x cancer survivor, so a story that had someone suffering from cancer as the main protagonist - there was no way I wouldn't say "Bring it on!"

I went into this (very long!) book expecting a maudlin, somber, dark read, because, let's face it, the heroine is dying of cancer. Cancer is certainly no pleasure trip, though those who've been through it probably end up scarred by a case of very morbid humour *grin*. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Eileen Goudge does not fall into the 'maudlin, somber, dark' trap.

What do you really get with this story? Let me put it this way.

You know what 'realistic' cinema is all about? It shows you real life, real love, without the roses, champagne, and pink-coloured goggles; yet, that doesn't mean it's dire and painful to slug through like the driest of literature.

You know what soap operas are about? Follow a cast of characters, with the focus on a main couple, as they go through life, love, struggles, pitfalls, life-altering decisions, day-to-day coping... and often on a larger than life scale.

You know what good fiction is about? Strong characters, realistic and well-sketched, so well that sometimes you want to reach in and either grab them by the lapels to shake them, or slap them senseless for their idiotic decisions that scream "disaster" from a mile away.

Take all these 3 descriptions; mix, shake, merge... and you end up with The Replacement Wife.

This is one long book (482 pages, if I'm not mistaken, on the galley), so you know there's got to be something happening for these 482 pages that goes beyond the scope of "Camille Hart has cancer". The book does go beyond that scope, and along the way, puts you in the heads and lives of the people who touch Camille and her husband, Edward's, lives. Through twists and turns and coping and reactions and relationships and bonds and falling in love and falling out of love, hurting and making-do, the story takes you through all that happens in the lives of Camille and Edward once Camille decides to play matchmaker on her own husband, by pairing him with the woman who will take her place when she is dead.

But they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions... and this is the path that Camille sets them on, unwittingly. The things she wished for happens, but not in the way she wanted, and Camille is forced to deal with this.

On this aspect, Eileen Goudge took me by surprise, because I expected a syrupy, sweet, fragile-as-spun-glass approach that people take where life-threatening health conditions are concerned. Ms. Goudge takes a 180-degree turn from that direction, and the reality of Camille and Edward's lives is right there, in your face, all the time. Poignant, hard, harsh, the reader is literally taken through the roller coaster that the word 'cancer' brings into the life of a couple.

I also enjoyed the accurate cancer and treatment aspects mentioned in the book - like the fact that Camille's straight hair grew back curly after chemotherapy. I was nodding and smiling to myself there, because that's a real side-effect of chemotherapy. The fatigue, the whiplash-swift mood swings that make you sound bipolar at best and crazy at worst - all of these shine through Camille's words.

The Replacement Wife is a surprising and refreshing book. Not an 'easy' read as there is nothing exactly breezy and light in there, but if you enjoy books with heart, stories where reality is mimicked to perfection, and where the characters literally leap off the page, this is one book for you. The prose gets a tad heavy and clogging at times, especially in backstory moments when we are introduced to new characters, but even that doesn't exactly deter from the overall feel of this book.

Definitely one I'd recommend! Take a bet on this one, peeps - you won't be disappointed.

From Mauritius with love,



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