Lynne Barrett-Lee’s latest book is written in her usual first person, racy, funny style with a rather serious, challenging theme. What does a woman who has been comfortably, but not particularly happily, married for eighteen years do when a dazzlingly handsome, kind man with similar interests suddenly comes in to her life?
Sally Matthews is an optometrist in a firm which is being taken over by an American organisation and Nick Brown, a man who she meets at night when they almost have a road accident, turns out to be one of the personnel officers of the new company. They are thrown together at work, especially on a weekend training exercise in Wales, and fall in love. Nick is divorced, but Sally has a lot of commitments. As well as her dentist husband, Jonathan, there is the imminent wedding of their eldest daughter Morgan, and coping with sixteen-year-old daughter Kate, helping her mother who is campaigning on behalf of a Women’s Refuge, and seeing that her dog, Merlin, has regular walks. Her job is also very important to her, although the family does not always appreciate that.
So this is a romantic novel but also a romantic dilemma novel. Looking back half a century at stories like Brief Encounter, it was very unlikely then that the heroine would follow her lover – she would sacrifice her own desires for the good of her family and the respect of the community. These days there is no such certainty and the reader can experience the ‘Will she? Won’t she?’ question.
One factor that affects one’s understanding of the problem is that, as it is written entirely in the first person, the reader only has Sally Matthews’s take on things. Is husband Jonathan really so unappreciative? Is Nick really so handsome, thoughtful and perfect?
The story is very well written with many incidents, events, catastrophes and passions. Thankfully, there is a resolution at the end. Whether Sally makes the right decision is another question for the reader.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.