Books, Review

About Books #67: The Man I Fell in Love With

Here’s a question: what would you do if the man you loved, had children with, and thought you’d get old with, suddenly came out as gay. With a boyfriend-near-fiancé. At a very public event. With you finding out, along with everyone else. My immediate reaction would probably to either start shouting or crying, but that’s not quite what Mary does. Luckily, she didn’t have to. I was shouting and crying for the both of us, while reading The Man I Fell in Love With.

I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

The story

Sometimes there’s a right person for one half of your life, and a right person for the other…

After twenty years of quiet, contented marriage, Mary Black can’t help but find her eyes drawn to a particularly handsome man at a Christmas party. But her world is suddenly turned upside down when she sees her husband Leo next to him, holding his hand…

For the sake of her children, Mary has no choice but to pick herself back up and start again. She hosts a family Christmas that includes her ex-husband and his new partner. She copes with her children wanting to spend less time with her, and more time with their “fun” dads. And she tries her VERY best to ignore Leo’s hunk of a brother, who has been living in New York for many years, but has just come back to town…

As Mary tries to reshape her future, the past unravels, exposing secrets and lies that rewrite the story of her life and leave her questioning where her loyalties really should lie. After living a life of sliding doors and missed opportunities, can she finally put herself first and take a chance that could change everything? Sometimes life begins at the end of your comfort zone…

The opinion

Have you ever wanted to smack a character? Like really hit them across the head, either with a magazine, or with some firm truths? If so: be warned. This book is filled to the brim with those characters. Whether it be Mary, who just seemed to let herself be walken over constantly. Or her daughter, who – in a perfect “the present mirrors the past” takes all her anxieties about her dad leaving out on her mother.

Oh, and of course, then there’s said dad. And honestly, I want someone to give Leo a good kicking in the behind. The selfishness, the thick-headedness, the absolute lack of caring and the amount of betrayal he puts Mary through? I wanted to reach through the screen and scold him like nobody’s business. That being said – if Mary had just had a bit of a backbone, she probably wouldn’t have let her (ex-)husband treat her like that. But it’s understandable, you know, what with Mary’s dad leaving inexplicably when she was a kid and her craving a safe and calm family-life…

And that’s the thing about this book: at times, each character behaved like an absolute idiot. Whether that be intentionally, because they didn’t know the whole truth, or something else entirely: idiots they were. But Kate Field always manages to make the character’s actions completely understandable. You see where they’re coming from, you see why they react the way they do…

Another thing I really have to credit the author for, is how patient she is with her characters. There’s no rushing through stages of grief, there’s no “suddenly changing personality”… There are, however, fragments like this – that actually made me giggle out loud:

Audrey was a terrible patient, every bit as bad as I expected: not because she was demanding, but because she refused to make any demands. I had to go round earlier and earlier each morning to try to catch her before she attempted to dress herself; if it carried on, there would barely be a gap between putting her to bed and getting her up.

Can’t you just see it happening? Going to help your neighbour and having to outsmart her so that she’ll actually allow herself to be helped?

The rating: 4.5/5

All in all, I really enjoyed The Man I Fell In Love With. I finished it in one sitting, and I found myself alternately laughing out loud and aching for Mary as she saw not only her life, but also her past get torn apart and reconstructed – all within the course of a year. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve been able to handle everything as gracefully as she did. So, you know, for now I’ll just stick to hoping it won’t ever come to that. And look up the rest of Kate Field’s work. Because apparently – I’ve been missing out on some great books! (Goodreads)

-Saar