The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson

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The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: If anyone deserves a mid-life crisis, it's Kate. Demands on her life are many, and her fulfilment is at rock bottom. When she runs away, on impulse, it's the catalyst to a lot of change both in her own life, and the lives of her ungrateful family.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 321 Date: January 2012
Publisher: Pan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780330522014

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Kate's life is far from easy. She earns a great deal more money than her husband Ned, and works long hours... but her boss seems to be trying to edge her out. She pays not just for their mortgage, but for her mother's too, and fees for their teenage children Guy and Agness who are in expensive private schools.

If that weren't enough, Kate also runs the home pretty much single-handedly, with very little support from Ned, and none at all from Guy or Agness. She gets along quite well with Guy, on the whole - despite the fact that he's actually her step-son, not her son - but he is being badly bullied at school, and is not very communicative. Agness is going through an angry hormonal stage, and fighting for more freedom... and Kate's mother has a string of constant demands.

Then Ned forgets about their wedding anniversary. Kate hasn't really got over a problem they had a few months earlier where he was extremely insensitive, and she doesn't appreciate him spending the evening at the pub and then dragging her off to bed where he demonstrates himself to be a complete boor.

But the last straw comes when Kate spends her lunch-hour trying to get hold of some special gloves for her mother, only to discover that they weren't even needed. She gets in a taxi to return to her office... and goes, instead, to the airport.

This novel is told in the present tense, which works well; I barely noticed it after the first few paragraphs. It's also told from multiple viewpoints, which becomes necessary when Kate - as the blurb on the back tells us she will - takes off, on impulse, to stay with an old friend in Italy. And it makes an interesting read: would Kate ever return to her demanding family? Why has she let them get away with it for so long? What was the problem that so upset her earlier in the year? How would her family get along without her....?

Unfortunately, the author gets so into the characters of the different viewpoints that Guy's accounts are peppered with bad language that makes it almost unreadable in places, and Ned's, at the beginning, are even worse. He appears to be obsessed with sex, but remarkably clumsy in his attempts to make love to his wife. I was very unimpressed with his first chapter, which describes in crass and juvenile detail what he does, in about five minutes, to Kate in the bedroom. My only surprise, after reading that - or rather, skimming it, as it wasn't pleasant reading - was that she had any positive feelings for him at all.

The middle of the story reads well, with Kate gradually unwinding in the relaxed environment she finds herself in, while her family descend further into chaos. Guy is dealt with quite sensitively, I felt, and if Agness matures rather too suddenly for reality, it does provide the trigger for things to start changing, slowly, in the home.

However I really didn't like Kate's mother, who is manipulative and selfish; as for Ned, it became hard to imagine what Kate ever saw in him. Their changes for the better seem unrealistic, without any real motive. And Kate, who was doing well, albeit undecided about whether to return, suddenly falls into a clichéd and unlikely situation which struck me as slightly ridiculous.

On the whole, the writing of the book is very good - it's certainly a page-turner, which I could hardly put down in the final chapters. The climax of the book is quite tense; however, even though I like happy endings, the conclusion to this seems rather too neat, with at least one strange inconsistency.

Still, it was an enjoyable read on the whole. Thanks to the publishers for sending the book.

If this type of book appeals then you might like to try:

The Crowded Bed by Mary Cavanagh

Sweet Nothings by Trisha Ashley

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Buy The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wife Who Ran Away by Tess Stimson at


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