The Adultery Club by Tess Stimson

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The Adultery Club by Tess Stimson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 1/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Here at the Bookbag we can't recommend this book at all. You'd be better keeping your money or giving it to a charity.
Buy? No Borrow? No
Pages: 356 Date: January 2007
Publisher: Pan
ISBN: 978-0330445207

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I am disappointed to reveal that yet another chick-lit novel focusing on the hackneyed Eternal Triangle has hit our bookshelves. Worse, the author is a columnist in a national newspaper, large sections of which are aimed at the female demographic. Do I hear a collective sigh?

Let me expand further: The Adultery Club is the story (I'm grasping at straws for want of the right adjective for "story" certainly is not it - perhaps chronicle with an emphasis on chronic?) of the lawyerly Nicholas; a divorce attorney and eternal public schoolboy and his wife, Malinche (yes, Malinche - the product of, yawn, hippy parents, who thought it would be cool to encumber their daughter with the moniker of the harlot that bore the bastard child of Hernán Cortés, Conquistador of Mexico and whose name is frequently seen there as the embodiment of treachery even in modern times. Presumably akin to calling your child Medusa or Myra, but then I may just not be terribly cool).

Malinche, or Mal for short, is a cookery writer; a little ditzy we are led to believe and, we are also led to believe, utterly wrapped up in both her career and their three, gorgeous - obviously - daughters (again, one of whom being unfortunate enough to be named Metheny, after some jazz musician chap or other as a consequence of her not being a longed-for boy). I mention the alliteration to Mal being wrapped up in her career and her children as I believe it is presumably to convey some sort of feeling of pity or such other pathos for Nicholas and how he may have been propelled by his thoughtless wife into the arms of Sara, the - very young - woman that Nicholas decides to have, and I am quoting here, "a harmless fling" with.

Now, the book would not be called The Adultery Club if Nicholas does the grown-up thing and remains faithful to his wife, telling Sara not to be such a slapper and have some respect for the institution of marriage, namely his. It would also not be called the Adultery Club if Nicholas had learned anything at all from a career of handling other people's divorces. So same old, same old, right?

It is safe to say that the fairly graphic nature and frankly, masculine style of writing of the sex scenes in this ahem, novel, will, if you are under the age of twenty-five, give you a complex that you are not some rampant, panting, hormone-filled, damp-gusseted vamp, driven to wild and insane urges by a simple glance in your direction from the object of your affection (although I think the mot juste here is "affectation") like Sara is. Conversely, if you are over the age of thirty-five you will snigger yourself into a fit given the psychological profile of such a sad young creature. Either way, the detail is utterly unnecessary. I didn't particularly enjoy seeing Nicholas's public schoolboy longings written out in such florid and sweaty prose, especially by a female author. I found it crass and like she was trying too hard. What I will say is that if she has managed to do nothing else, Tess Stimson has clearly conveyed Nicholas to the reader as the pathetic, greedy, testosterone-filled moron that he plainly is.

And so Nicholas and Sara embark upon their affair and to Hell with the consequences.

It does not take any depth of skill to complete the picture. It would not be the tale of an Eternal Triangle if Mal doesn't somehow find out what her stupid husband has been up to. And so, the story can only end one of two ways:

Malinche takes him back.

Malinche does not take him back.

What happens in between is only mildly interesting and even at the princely sum of £2.96 (Tesco) I felt too high a price to pay. How it took 356 pages to reach its unsatisfactory conclusion is as beyond me as is the Meaning of Life.

We also have a review of The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson.

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Buy The Adultery Club by Tess Stimson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Adultery Club by Tess Stimson at


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Jill said:

Malinche takes him back him back and does a Bobbitt on him? That might have been worth 356 pages?! Welcome to Bookbag Kerry.

Magda said:

I still don't quite see why you disliked it so much? Because it's the same old story? But all genre books are pretty much the same old story, aren't they?

Kerry replied:

Oh if only! Thanks Jill!

Magda, I could not agree with you more. I think one of the greatest difficulties faced by authors today is to successfully re-work the old genres. My personal bugbear with this book was not just its total lack of originality in the bones of the tale (the eternal triangle), but the way it was told. In places, the author had the cheek to use several email Round Robins. And I mean several.

I'm not sure if you receive these kind of emails from friends and acquaintances, but I, and many thousands of people attached to email all day, do. For instance, she used the story of the Gynaecologist and the Glittery Nether Regions Story (housewife uses flannel for quick sponge down before doctor appointment; gynae says "really you shouldn't have gone to so much trouble"; housewife gets home and only realises what's happened when her 8 year old asks where the flannel with all her sparkles has gone) and the story of the Child at School Being Taught How To Do Addition ("one plus one the son of a b*tch equals two", so the mother goes to school and learns, as the teacher wheezes with laughter that her child had been taught "the sum of which" instead). The story of the child who tells its mother that she saw a dead cat and she knew it was dead because she p*ssed in the cat's ear and it didn't move. Of course it transpires that the child went "psst" in the unfortunate cat's ear. There are others and I could go on.

To summarise, I was annoyed that the author tried to pass these off as her own (there are certainly no mention of them in the credits that I could see) as they were not hers to publish! To my mind it's the equivalent to patenting the wheel. Just because we don't know who invented it (or started it in the case of the round robin) doesn't mean we can claim the credit for the original idea.

Sue said:

Yes, I found a couple of those stories with a quick surf. They seem to be quite common in blogs.

celtictotty said:

loved the book, it either makes you want to join or makes you think twice about joining!