The book starts with all the required elements of a farce but whilst it is hugely entertaining, the author’s keen eye gives us something a little more complex than humour.
When Selina Busfield is woken in the middle of the night she is as much confused as worried. All that rapidly changes when the policeman outside asks to come in and when he makes his way into her beautiful London house he delivers the news that her husband Simon has been found dead in the Thames. Selina is mystified as to how this could possibly be; as far as she knew he was due home the next day from working in Dubai.
On the day of the funeral Selina is still trying to piece together the sequence of events with her three children but what she didn’t expect was to meet another Mrs Busfield. Mrs Lottie Busfield who has been married to Simon for 17 years is in attendance complete with her teenage daughter!
If a bigamous marriage, a dead husband and devastated children weren’t enough, this is a book chock-a-block with shocks which Tamar Cohen bounces through the pages with aplomb. With Simon dead and buried the two women examine how they could possibly not have known about each other. They also reflect on their differences. Lottie is the opposite to Selina, being far more of a free-spirit, and skint to boot. As the inevitable legal matters arise following Simon’s death the pair need to reach some sort of dialogue.
This story really does rattle along at a fair old pace helped along by a hand-off of narratives between Selina and Lottie as they take stock of their lives. Each part of the book is named after the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance and our characters are made to work through these stages in exceptionally unusual circumstances. This author never fails to amaze me, because this is a perceptive book about loss that will resonate with many readers although hopefully not so many will have found themselves in quite such a predicament as this lot. Because Selina and Lottie, whilst being the main protagonists have their own relationships to maintain, principally with their children who are grieving their perhaps not so dearly departed father now unpleasant truths have come to light.
Incredibly the author has managed to squeeze some action in between the fabulous character studies and the complex emotional journey that Simon’s death has caused the two families; there is danger hiding around the corner, one that means precaution and action is required to keep both families safe!
Very few books can pack so many contradictory emotions into one book without it feeling as if it is a novel that doesn’t know what it is supposed to be, somehow the author avoided any such doubt in a book that had me gasping in sympathy at one moment while sniggering at some sharp humour the next. Quite simply the writing is incredibly perceptive yet sprinkled with humorous observations about life, love and loss.
I have followed Tammy as she is now known, from the Mistress’s Revenge through to her latest dark novel If She Was Bad but somehow I had missed this, her second book despite the fact that I kept reminding myself to read it. I’m so glad I did, if you haven’t sampled this author’s work, you really should.
Other Books by Tamar (aka Tammy Cohen)