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This is another of my 'four for £1.00' bootsale books and I was really thrilled to have spotted this one as I have really enjoyed the Wendy Holden books that I have read in the past.
The book is based on the lives of two couples, living in Bath, whose lives' are linked by the wives' careers and lets just say they are not each other's greatest fans, so when they unexpectedly meet again at antenatal class they are both less than thrilled as are the husbands who dislike each other on sight.
The couples could not be more different and their birth plans and approach to parenting reflects this;
MEET ALICE AND JAKE - Alice is a high flying lawyer who gives up her career for a completely different way of life with eco-warrior Jake who insists on a home birth with no pain relief, the use of terry nappies and a recycled cardboard cot.
NOW MEET AMANDA AND HUGO - Hugo is a top estate agent and Amanda is a spoiled celebrity journalist who sees having a baby as the latest 'must have' fashion accessory. Their birth plan involves a limo to the private Cavendish hospital and a nanny to care for the baby afterwards.
When Amanda decides to return to work Hugo is thrown in at the deep end and has to become the baby's primary carer even though he can't even put a nappy on, meanwhile Alice is also finding parenthood a struggle when Jake isn't the hands on father she expected and she struggles to live up to his environmentalist standards.
The story follows the ups and downs of the early days of parenthood and how managing a life, a career and childcare can become a juggling act and gives a humorous take on the different experiences of a 'celebrity' mother with an image to uphold compared to a mother living a back to basics lifestyle.
Having read and loved several other books by Wendy Holden I immediately recognised and warmed to the easy reading style of this book. I like the fact that she tackles serious issues that we are all aware of like recycling, childcare problems and post natal depression with an element of humour. She has taken some of the highs and lows of the early days of parenthood so far to the extreme that it really did make me laugh out loud.
Although I found the characters somewhat clichéd, personally I consider this to be an acceptable 'chik lit' trait and like the fact that her descriptions and the witty dialogue really gave me a sense of their personalities and at times I could almost feel their frustrations or happiness. The main characters actually started to feel familiar and I found myself either really liking them or disliking them and even sympathising with some or wanting to 'knock a bit of sense' into others and I like it when I am able to become absorbed in a book in this way.
The story itself was in parts slightly predictable but there was also some parts which I really did not expect and I still found the book hard to put down. In fact my only real problem with this book was the ending, in my opinion was disappointing, it wasn't actually how it ended which I didn't like, just that the ending itself seemed a little brief compared with the rest of the book, it seemed to end quite suddenly.
All in all this was a fun read and I would recommend it as a holiday read, because you can put it down and then pick up quite easily from where you left off and you don't need to concentrate too hard on it. I don't think it is one of Wendy Holden's best novels but an enjoyable story with plenty of laughs.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
This book currently has 205 off in WH Smith and now costs £6.39 and for the same price in Tesco and a new copy is £5.99 from Amazon with used copies starting at 1 pence plus postage.
As with most things I tend to work backwards and when I saw the book "School for Husbands" by Wendy Holden it shot out from the list and I had to have it, the latest novel by Wendy Holden so I had no idea what her writing style was like and maybe should have started from the beginnning however I am now glad that I didn't.
The Wives of Bath was the second book that I read by Wendy Holden and just like the last book I had read I found that I could not put it down it was entertaining from start to finish and it is very rare that I find a fictional book that I just take everywhere with me desparate to know what happens next!
The book focuses around 4 main characters two couples Hugo and Amanda and Jake and Alice all in their thirty somethings and all have a busy lifestyle.
Amanda is a woman who puts herself first every time no matter what it takes. Amanda is heavily influenced by Women's magazines and always has to have the latest fashion accessory even if that means changing her current lifestyle.
Hugo her husband is a high flying estate agent who has no conscience pretty much like his wife and will do anything to sell the houses on the company's books even if it involves telling a few white lies if it means he gets the Company's Aston Martin for another month for being top sales but when his wife gets the latest fashion accessory their high flying lifestyle is quickly uprooted and Hugo's life changes in many ways.
Alice is an executive lawyer for a high flying magazine company in New York she is fed up with her busy lifestyle and only wants to settle down with the right man and become a mother but she feels that time is passing her so quickly she is inlikely to meet Mr Right working in her office until late into the evening and when she is persuaded to return home to a family wedding everything changes.
Jake is Alice's husband and he is an eco- warrier creating and publishing a recycling magazine "Get Trashed" he has taking recycling beyond all limits and when Alice finds out how her health and lifestyle was comprimised by his beliefs could this be the end for the couple?
The story focuses on the two couples and the book begins in a hospital with the two couples preparing for their new arrivals at antenatal classes, there is a link to the two couples but we only find this out a few chapters in and this provides a good twist to the story which makes you unable to put the book down.
Amanda thinks that her new baby will provide her with a newer glamorous lifestyle and will help her obtain a new career and a better lifestyle, however all that does not go to plan when reality hits when the baby arrives and Hugo is the one that finds he has to adapt to accommodate the baby when Amanda decides motherhood is not for her and she wants to return to work, Hugo is forced to make some tough decisions and learn to love and care for the child that was unplanned by him but this is my favourite part of the story as Hugo learns to love the child and learns through various books and people how to look after the child and provide it with a warm loving family unit, despite his estranged wife.
Alice however is forced by Jake to enter into an eco friendly pregnancy with no assistance with pain relief during childbirth and leaves the day to day care of their child to Alice alone insisting that she use only towelling nappies that can be washed through and toys created by Jake for the child that have been made through recycled rubbish, the stress of a new child and Jake;s irrational behaviour sends her over the edge and provides is with an ending that cannot be foreseen.
Wendy Holden is an excellent writer and of the two books I have now read I have thoroughly enjoyed and plan to read a good few more.
The mother of all romantic comedies.