WIVES BEHAVING BADLY by Elizabeth Buchan


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Second wife gets short shrift in Buchan’s sequel to Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman (2003).

Seven years have passed since Minty stole Nathan, chief exec of a London media firm, from his first wife Rose. She now has everything Rose had—a lively brood (six-year-old twins Lucas and Felix) and Rose’s beloved home and now neglected garden. In Revenge, Rose’s loss of Nathan was immediately followed by the loss of her job at Vistemax, where she was supplanted by her assistant and former confidante, 29-year-old Minty. But marriage to Nathan is far from, er, rosy. Minty has never felt accepted by her husband’s friends. His adult children, Poppy and Sam, alternately manipulate and marginalize her. Poppy racks up Internet poker debt and Minty strives to do damage control before daughter hits Dad up for funds. Sam has a career opportunity in Texas but his wife won’t leave the U.K. Minty, snooping in Nathan’s diary, finds regretful musings. Despite Nathan’s new lease on life, he’s grown taciturn and cranky. Though visibly unwell, he refuses to see a doctor. Meanwhile, he resists Minty’s desire to work full-time at her TV production job. At Vistemax, Nathan’s malaise leaves him open to a palace coup. Rose is annoyingly self-possessed and well-dressed for a dumped, 50-ish ex-wife, and Minty is paranoid about Nathan’s nostalgia for his old life. Nathan drops dead of a heart attack while visiting Rose—he sought her out after being downsized—while Minty is left to sort out her less-than-optimal inheritance and balance her increasingly precarious position at work with single motherhood. Rose keeps cropping up like a sleekly groomed Marley’s ghost. Two girlfriends with marital breakdown and fidelity issues are dropped into the plot, adding little except padding. Weighed down by so much poetic justice, Minty garners no reader identification. Buchan seems mainly intent on continuing Rose’s revenge. Nathan is a cipher and what either woman saw in him remains a mystery.

Flabby, meandering and emotionally vacuous.

Pub Date: July 24th, 2006
ISBN: 0-670-03488-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2006


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