Hell hath no fury, etc.—in the Irish author’s tale about a Dublin housewife’s cheating husband.
Running to the departure gate to give her husband Mark his forgotten cell phone, Francesca, 40, gets the shock of her life when she sees him kissing another woman. Her first reaction is tears, but soon she gets the pertinent information (a hotel in Cork, not a business trip to Brussels), goes home, packs, then surprises the lovers in their hotel room. The victory of that moment for all wronged women is nearly worth the price of admission, but Francesca’s courage subsides as the truth hits her: Her marriage is over. A large beautiful house, two devoted, grown sons, a place on the social circuit—Francesca thought the life of a banker’s wife was as good as it got. Mark, on the other hand, 45, bored and restless, sorry he married so young, doesn’t understand why Francesca can’t be more sensitive to his inner turmoil. And then there’s Nikki, the younger woman: a taut, well-manicured, clever colleague of Mark’s. There’s not much neutrality at work here—this is Francesca’s story—so Mark is a selfish bastard and Nikki a ruthless home-wrecker, but no matter, as Francesca is sympathetic enough for us to follow her from heartbreak to recovery. After months of moping, gaining weight, and bemoaning her life, she slowly begins to build anew—getting a job, making friends for herself, and mustering up the courage to ask Mark for a (not very common in Ireland) divorce and the sale of the house. Mark, furious that Francesca can’t leave things the way they are (separated, with him living with Nikki, Francesca living off an allowance), begins to reconsider the sagacity of the whole Nikki affair—especially now that he may lose his beloved house. Never fear. Francesca learns how to deal with Mark and life, on her own terms.
Groundbreaking, no, but compelling enough to hold you till the end.