Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley
|Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Light-hearted village novel; predictable but enjoyable chick-lit for the middle-aged.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 500||Date: March 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Fergal is part of a popular pop band. Regularly in the news for various scandals, he is introduced in the prologue to this novel when he recalls his first, somewhat dramatic meeting with 17-year-old Tish, and the year-long romance which followed.
The majority of the book is then told from Tish’s point of view. Now thirty, comfortably married to the hard-working and somewhat stolid James, she longs for a place in the country. She writes popular romantic fiction, some of which is inspired by her memories of her first love... but she was badly hurt by Fergal when he left her to go on tour in America, and is trying to forget him.
James is a solicitor, with upwardly-mobile desires. He wants to mix with the right people, and would love Tish to have permed hair and wear smart dresses, like his colleagues’ well-behaved wives. But Tish prefers jeans, and thinks for herself. She will happily mix with anyone interesting, from the local general shopkeeper to a local hard-working lad who is not very bright and likes to be paid in colourful magazines.
While house-hunting, Tish falls in love with a country cottage in need of a great deal of renovation. James is not keen at all, and insists on offering a ludicrously low amount for it. This means that when the offer is accepted, he can hardly refuse. So they move, and Tish sets about turning into the house of her dreams.
It’s fairly clear from the beginning of the book that Tish’s teenage romance with Fergal is going to be re-kindled. That’s how Trisha Ashley’s novels work, and since there are also brief snippets from Fergal interspersed with Tish’s accounts, they are obviously going to meet again. Going by her other books, I decided that they would most likely have some conflict, and then finally get together. So I felt quite sorry for James at the start of the book; he seems a rather worthy, caring man, if somewhat dull. However I soon lost any sympathy I had for him, even before his inevitable dalliances with other women. James, it turns out, is thoughtless, snobbish, and something of a male chauvinist. He seems to consider Tish’s writing career as little more than a hobby, and treats her more like a housekeeper than a wife. He expects his meals to be ready whatever time he arrives in from work, and all laundry to appear, clean and perfectly ironed, whenever needed. I would have rebelled much earlier.
The first time I read a book by Trisha Ashley, I found her somewhat informal writing style a bit difficult to get into, and was irritated by some apparently random switches from past to present tense. But as I got into the story, I enjoyed it more and more. Chick-lit for the middle aged was my overall opinion - and I don’t say that disparagingly at all. It was light, free from anything remotely X-rated, and had a positive ending. I found the same to be true of subsequent books I read by this author, and so I was aware of what to expect when I started this one.
I was not disappointed. While the main plot is predictable, there are fascinating observations about village life, and some wonderful minor characters. I particularly liked Tish’s eccentric and outspoken Granny, and I was very taken with the shopkeeper Mrs Deakin, who knows everything about everyone and likes nothing more than a good gossip with her customers. There is a hint of mystery about Tish’s own past, and also about why James is spending increasing amounts of time away from home, but in both cases I easily guessed what was going on, long before Tish herself was enlightened. I wasn’t surprised, either, at a more significant revelation near the end of the book which somehow startled Tish - but none of that mattered. Reality was nicely suspended, and while the characterisation isn’t particularly deep, I certainly felt something for Tish.
There’s a bit of humour here and there; it didn’t make me laugh out loud, but I certainly smiled a couple of times. The informal style was less intrusive than in other Trisha Ashley books I have read, although there are still a few tense-changes that jolted me a little. I was a bit surprised to realise that this was first published in 2000; rather than being the author’s latest novel, it was the first one she ever had published.
Good Husband Material is light, and fluffy, and good fun. I read the second half of the book almost in one sitting and did not get bored for a moment. All in all, I would recommend this as ideal light holiday reading; it's available for the Kindle as well as having been re-published in paperback.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending it to TheBookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley at Amazon.com.
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