The Other Half by Sarah Rayner
Pub. Date: March 25, 2014
Source: Finished copy via publisher (thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!!)
Summary: Chloe, bright, hip and single, is a feature writer with ambitions to launch a magazine of her own. When she meets James, her potential new boss, she knows she shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, but finds it impossible to resist.
Maggie appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, a talented writer, and has a gorgeous husband. But something’s not quite right: his job as a magazine publisher is keeping him in the city until late most evenings, and some nights he doesn’t come home at all.
Told in the alternating voices of the mistress and the wife, this story of an affair is a sharp, seductive take on modern love.
Who, if anyone, comes out unscathed?
Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Chloe is a features editor at Babe, a conventional women’s magazine, but has loftier goals. She’s eager to reach an untapped market, an audience who doesn’t slave away on the perfect five-course meal, one who doesn’t care about which household appliances are ranked the highest. Her ambition catches the eye of her publisher, James, and he’s just as enthusiastic about this new project. Perhaps a bit too enthusiastic.
Maggie has a beautiful house in a charming neighborhood, a family she adores, and a well-respected-if-a-bit-stagnant job as a food journalist. She’s looking for something more exciting to write about than souffles, but knows the money is decent. If Maggie was totally honest, it’s another baby she wants, but Jamie doesn’t share her excitement. In fact, these days Jamie hardly leaves the office. Maggie tries not to worry – Jamie has a new and very demanding job, after all! – but the long hours (some nights he doesn’t even come home) are beginning to take their toll. Not just on Jamie, but the entire family.
The Other Half was a completely new experience for me. For the past few years I’ve made it a goal to be more open when it comes to reading, and I’ve been eager to branch out and try new genres I normally wouldn’t. A novel where a wife and a mistress are the focus is definitely out of my comfort zone and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it!
Naturally this book isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but the short chapters and readability made it such a breeze. It’s hard not to feel for Maggie: for the majority of the novel she has no idea her husband is carrying on an affair – and at one point she even visits Chloe about working for the magazine! When Maggie first notices her husband acting distant, she goes out of her way to be affectionate and caring. Little does she know what’s going on behind her back.
Chloe, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as sympathetic. She knew from the start James was married, yet she entered into this relationship – despite her roommate’s warnings. She knew there was no way things would end well, even if James left his wife for her everyone at the office would hate her. Particularly her ex-boss, Maggie’s best friend. No matter what, there was no outcome that looked promising. Ignoring this, Chloe still carried on a near six month long relationship.
Things eventually come to light and each woman deals with the blows in an incredibly satisfying way. They’re both hurt and hopeful, and it’s the affair that causes them to truly step back and decide what they really want out of life. The Other Half was a bit predictable in the end, but not in a bad way. These two women grew from the experience and that in itself was enjoyable to read.
I will admit I’m a bit confused by the blurb on the cover. Cosmopolitan UK said this novel was “wickedly funny!” While The Other Half wasn’t a down-in-the-dumps, overly-depressing novel at all, there definitely weren’t any joke-y scenes or witty one-liners. I never had any laugh-out-loud moments and that wasn’t negative – it’s just that this wasn’t a feel-good type of story. I’m not sure what they found so uproarious.
Like I said, The Other Half isn’t a book for everyone. However, I found it extremely readable – read it in only two sittings – and enjoyed it!