In Paul’s debut novel, a wife makes a discovery that makes her suspect her husband of cheating.
Julia Baxby has relocated to London with husband Stephen and 8-year-old daughter Charlotte, abandoning her own career for the sake of Stephen’s luxury adventure travel business. She misses best friend Catherine, a forensic entomologist in Los Angeles, but also makes a handsome new friend: François, the owner of the Sacre Brew cafe. She notices that Stephen seems preoccupied lately, and then she finds a suspicious stain on his pant leg and a note in his pocket from another woman. Catherine encourages her to “cherchez le man cave,” and Julia finds vibrators in a desk drawer in Stephen’s home office. With François’ help, she then breaks into Stephen’s office at work, where there’s a trunk filled with sex toys: “[N]ow I know why he looks so tired,” she says. Meanwhile, Stephen’s silent business partner, Maxwell, Lord Rothbottom, has taken up with a gorgeous young woman whom Julia calls a “sugar embryo.” Back in America, Julia’s Catholic mother, who never liked Stephen, suspects something is amiss because she’s been having unsettling dreams; at the same time, she’s converting to Judaism with the help of her new love, rabbinical scholar Jacob. Julia and her cohorts concoct a plan to confront Stephen and learn the truth about “Dildogate.” The novel is initially hilarious, with sharp composition, a chatty, just-us-friends style, and sassy dialogue. Julia is witty, decent, likable and a tad klutzy—very Sandra Bullock—and many scenes have appealingly comic setups. Much of the plot hangs on Julia avoiding asking Stephen outright why he has all this sex paraphernalia. This postponement, however, adds about 70 gratuitous pages, and many readers will be able guess early on as to whether Stephen has been unfaithful. What begins as a smart, saucy tale with a bit of bite eventually loses steam and devolves into over-the-top zaniness, but it also provides ample opportunities to toss out one-liners and occasional remarks about celebrities. Overall, the book reads like the script for a rom-com (Julia even notes at one point that her story would make “a great movie”), which may be more than enough to captivate some readers.
An amusing, if overlong, tale of alleged infidelity.