A melodrama features a scorned wife and her dire desire to end up a grieving widow rather than an embittered ex-spouse.
Swiss writer Greco (Angelica’s Discoveries, 2012, etc.) delivers a novel of deceit and comeuppance starring Daisy While, a woman on a mission. The briskly narrated opening chapter finds Daisy dashing through a hospital ward elegantly disguised in an oversized purple hat, carrying a designer purse, and brandishing a perfume bottle filled with poison. Beguiling yet with deadly intentions and “fully loaded with hate,” she heads toward her estranged husband Bernard’s room, where he lies dying. The couple has been estranged for nearly a decade, and Daisy has determined that becoming a widow rather than a divorcée would better suit her high-society reputation, so she’s meticulously plotted her husband’s demise. Not one for surprises, however, Daisy is completely flummoxed upon discovering an unknown woman at Bernard’s bedside. A heated confrontation with the stranger has Daisy on the run. Meanwhile, upon realizing the visitor was his estranged wife, Bernard reflects on his marriage to Daisy, a selfish woman who’d enjoyed a clandestine affair with one of his wealthy business partners. Greco dedicates a good portion of her delightfully devilish book to Daisy and Bernard’s bittersweet back story: he was a rugged, honorable military lieutenant in World War II who’d enjoyed a whirlwind romance with Daisy, a British nanny who grew up poor. Bernard had whisked her away to his Swiss village in 1950, and they promptly married and relocated to England, where he spoiled her and their children. Daisy soon developed a fetish for extravagance, manipulation, and the rush of hunting animals, but it was her indiscretion that cost her Bernard’s love. Meanwhile, Bernard’s old schoolmate Graziella is more than happy to replace her. When Daisy’s plan goes even more awry, she becomes embroiled in another problematic scheme. The author, a clever storyteller, wastes no time with exposition or extraneous dialogue; this is a swift, bracing tale stocked with a minimum of characters. Yet those players are addictive personalities who are well-developed and believable. The initially confusing conclusion is wrapped up as quickly as Daisy and Bernard’s tumultuous situation is presented in the opening pages. But their journey and the heroine’s epiphany make the tale entertaining, enjoyable, and easily devoured in one sitting for fast readers.
A breezy, soap opera–style story frothed with equal parts jealousy, vengeance, greed, and glamour.