Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins

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Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Someone is following Ann and she is quite convinced that the presence of this vagrant is some sort of dreadful portent. Then she discovers she is pregnant and as her behaviour becomes increasingly strange and erratic, Tom, her husband, makes a decision that he hopes will save their lives.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747596509

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Tom is a screenwriter and lately, not a very good one. With one acclaimed and prestigious hit to his name, that latterly he comes to despise, it seems that everything he touches turns sour. Bogged down in a world filled with the kind of people Tom hates, he becomes increasingly bitter at his dearth of success and the breadth of his failings and as if money was not in short enough supply, Tom's wife Ann announces that she is pregnant with their first child.

Ann is the light in Tom's life; the one beautiful, bright star in his universe. He cannot believe she ever agreed to marry him, on the spur of the moment the way she did, on that long ago holiday. And how he could ever have lost her is a question he will never be able to answer.

If I could build her again using words, I would....she wasn't one of those women who hate their feet, who hate their bodies, the kind who turn the sight of their ass in broad daylight into a state secret......Ann didn't care.... It was one of the ways she distracted you from what was inside her head.

Living in a house that they cannot really afford (even in its quasi derelict state), in quite the most insalubrious part of east London, Tom and Ann try to make plans for the future but it is becoming increasingly clear that Ann's state of mind is something for Tom to worry about - she is cleaning obsessively and is convinced the house is beset with vermin and other crawly nasties and she complains about strange smells and noises that apparently only she is able to sense and hear. And then, on the verge of losing their home, Tom makes a decision that he hopes he will not live to regret.

From beginning to end it is Tom's voice that we hear telling us the tale of his life and at no point are we interrupted by any other way of recounting the story. We are promised a Novel About My Wife and this is what Perkins delivers - I have to say, however, that it is indeed strange to read a book that is so incredibly powerfully told from a male standpoint, when in fact, the story has been written by a woman; that throws a person somewhat off balance.

Regardless, Novel About My Wife is a haunting, eerily recounted tale of two characters who get right under your skin and stay there and the obvious pluck of the author does not go unnoticed in the subtle tackling of the underlying mental health theme; it can be a very tricky area and requires delicacy and no small amount of sensitivity in order to be believable.

I don't hesitate to recommend Novel About My Wife to you even though in parts I got quite cross with the way Perkins dealt with, what I felt were, certain key parts of the plot. It is an incredibly clever writer who can infuse a story with a genuine lightness of touch and not leave the reader wondering what the hell is going on. Now, when Perkins does this she does so with aplomb, but every so often something really integral to the central characters happens or is explained, and you literally sit and scratch your head.

Then again, maybe this is what Perkins intended. Perhaps I, the reader, am meant to go away wondering? I can only suggest you get a copy and judge for yourselves.

If Novel About My Wife looks even remotely like it may float your literary boat, then you will definitely enjoy Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe. The two novels share many similarities and though they are quite distinct the parallels are unmistakable. In the same vein, you may also like to have a look at Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg - but in any case all three are stonkingly good reads.

We at Bookbag would very much like to thank the ladies and gentlemen at Bloomberg for sending this copy to Bookbag for review.

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Buy Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins at


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