Review: 'Difficult Husbands' by Mary de Laszlo (2014)
Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.
Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?
Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…
Mary de Laszlo's novel 'Difficult Husbands' was released on the 31st of October by one of my favourite publishers of this year, Bookouture. I had high hopes for this novel because of the numerous other wonderful Bookouture reads I've had the pleasure of reading so far in 2014. I wasn't familiar with the author, even though she has published more than 11 novels already. After seeing the pretty cover and the promising Trisha Ashley quote (yes, I have to admit these quotes from other authors on front covers of books sometimes give me the last push when it comes to deciding whether to pick up a book or not!) on it, I was quite curious to check it out!
Lorna, Gloria and Rosalind are three best friends in their forties who are completely fed up with the men in their lives. All three of them married their older partners when they were young, and now, as the men have reached their sixties, the women decide they have had to deal with more than enough crap over the years. Lorna's ex-husband left his family to be with a much younger woman, Gloria's husband is an alcoholic who doesn't want to admit he has a problem, and Rosalind's husband is a womaniser who'd rather spend his time with other women than his wife. When Lorna unexpectedly inherits a big country estate, Ravenswood, from her godfather, the three friends come up with a scheme to get rid of their husbands for the holidays. The men will be sent to Ravenscourt for a boys' weekend, so the women can celebrate Christmas in peace with their children and families. As Christmas comes nearer, Lorna starts to doubt whether they will be able to pull the plan off, because ditching their men can't be that easy... Right?
As soon as I had read the first few chapters of this book, I was quite engrossed by the story and was already wondering how everything would eventually work out for the characters, specifically the three women. I felt for the protagonist of the novel, Lorna, and there were plenty of secondary characters to fill the story. I really enjoyed the romantic storyline in the novel between Lorna and handsome Nathan who works at Mulberry Farm where he sells all kinds of delicious food. I was rooting for them and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending. I'm also a sucker for a big country estate like Ravenscourt, so I also really enjoyed the setting of part of the story and the descriptions of the big house, filled with history and memories.
I thought it was a bit of a shame that the novel seemed to mainly focus on Lorna, and not too much on Gloria and Rosalind. I would have liked it if their storylines had been focused on in more detail as well. Especially since the book is quite long, but not too much seemed to happen to really keep my attention at all times. Next to that, it also wasn't as festive as I had hoped it would be. A bit more Christmas cheer would have benefited the story, especially since the book is also promoted as a Christmas tale. While the book has some great basics, such as a cast of interesting characters, a lovely setting, and a promising storyline, I just had the feeling the book could have been much more but unfortunately wasn't. However, I am sure there will be readers out there who will definitely enjoy this novel, so do please pick it up and give it a chance if you like the sound of it!