Today I’m going to share my review of a recently published novel called The Replacement Wife and a fun Q & A with the author Rowena Wiseman.
The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman
Luisa has met the love of her life … now she just needs to figure out what to do with her husband.
Luisa has fallen madly in love with sculptor Jarvis, so she comes up with a plan to find a new wife for her husband Luke so she can exit stage left. She wants to screen potential stepmothers for her 8-year-old son Max and has strict criteria: the woman must be a single mother; have no more than two children; she can’t be authoritarian; she must be creative, nurturing and not much prettier than Luisa.
After a few carefully orchestrated meetings with different women that fail to raise a spark, Luke finally connects with a potential replacement wife. However, Luisa isn’t prepared for the fact that Luke’s interest in the other woman makes him a better man and a more attractive husband. After suffering for years in a half-dead marriage, Luisa starts to remember what it was about Luke that she originally fell in love with. But is it too late?
The novel begins with Luisa, who is bored with her routine, married life. She believes her life with her husband Luke has become stale and passionless. An encounter with a former crush brings up old, exciting feelings. It starts off innocent enough, an email to help him edit his writing. She decides that instead of leaving Luke for this other man, she’ll find a replacement in Luke’s life so that she can make a quiet exit when he falls in love with a new woman.
Honestly, I thought our main character was more than a bit nutty to come up with her scheme, let alone actually take it seriously. It bothered me that she hadn’t really tried to communicate to Luke how she was feeling, to even give him a chance to try to make things work and bring the spark back into their lives. Her internet relationship with the other man turns into a mingling of souls with a shared desire for one another. Luisa begins to slip into a world of passionate words with the other man in her life and begins to lose her grasp on reality and life.
It’s a bit sad to see Luke’s transformation from a moderately bored, if content husband. Once Luisa brings someone new into his life, he slowly, gradually begins to fall for the woman and begins to turn back into his old self, the fun loving man that she originally fell in love with. But he’s not doing things differently to impress Luisa, he’s doing it because of his newfound interest in this other woman. It’s a shame that the spark between Luke and Luisa had been so far dead that Luisa felt it was beyond repair. It’s clear that their lack of communication led to discontentment and boredom.
It’s an interesting and entertaining process, watching Luisa try to play match maker for her husband. It’s incredible how she’s tried to convince herself that what she’s doing is sensible and rational. I noticed that the story was narrated as though she was looking back years later. As messed up as her plan was, I hoped things would turn out alright in the end for her but I won’t spoil the story and tell you what happens!
One of the biggest themes and take-always from this novel is to be careful what you wish for and set out to accomplish. Things can seem lovely and wonderful in your head when they’re written with passion, but it’s another thing altogether to actually act on those things. I was brought back to that old saying that actions speak louder than words, and it couldn’t be more true than in this novel.
Here’s a bit of a spoiler alert that I felt needed to be shared, so perhaps don’t read this paragraph: [Don’t be fooled by the cutesy illustrated cover, this is not your average chick-lit novel. This novel left me feeling sad and slightly depressed about love. Although I fully believe Luisa got what was coming to her, it was a bit sad to read and watch her tear her lovely life apart. It’s amazing the things we can do to our own lives, self-inflicting pain and destruction. It was probably one of the more realistic books I’ve read about what goes on in someone’s mind when they get bored with their life and what happens when one spouse is content and the other is largely dissatisfied. I usually expect a somewhat unrealistic happy ending, and I suppose I’m sad that I didn’t get one.]
I commend the author for writing so frankly about the inner-workings of one’s mind when they begin to look outside of their marriage and I must say that the story was well-written and interesting.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Interview with the Author – Rowena Wiseman
Author Bio: Rowena Wiseman writes contemporary fiction and children’s stories. Her fiction includes The Replacement Wife (HarperCollins, 2015), Bequest (Tenebris Books, 2014) and Searching for Von Honningsbergs (Leafless, 2014). Children’s stories include the Aunty Arty and Astro Circus Kids series (Jet Black Publishing, 2014/2015). She was recently named as one of the 30 most influential writers on Wattpad. Rowena’s blog Out of Print Writing, about writing and publishing in the digital revolution, has been selected for the National Library of Australia’s archive program PANDORA http://www.outofprintwriting.blogspot…. She works in the visual arts sector and lives on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia.
1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?
I write children’s fiction, YA and contemporary fiction. I live on the Mornington Peninsula, a gorgeous part of the world, about an hour out of Melbourne, with my two children, husband and a blind Labrador. I work in the visual arts sector.
2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?
In The Replacement Wife Luisa falls in love with another man so she tries to find a wife for her husband. She wants to make sure that her son doesn’t end up with a really wicked stepmother part of the time! However, she discovers that it isn’t easy trying to seduce a woman for her husband …
I remember when The Slap came out my husband commented how great it was that a novel could be summed up in one clear, concise line – ‘what happens when someone slaps someone else’s kid?’ The first novel I wrote was incredibly hard to explain to people. I guess I’ve been trying to find a one liner plot for a while – and was delighted when I came up with the concept ‘how could a woman find a wife for her husband?’
3. What other novels have you published and what are you working on at the moment?
I’ve self-published a novel called Searching for Von Honningsbergs. My children’s book Aunty Arty and the Disquieting Muses has been published by Jet Black Publishing. It’s illustrated by Narelda Joy and is for junior readers who love art. At the moment I’m finishing a YA novel called Repeat After Me about two street artists.
4. What’s your favorite quality about your heroine?
Luisa is a flawed character. She does the wrong things even though she’s trying to do the ‘right’ thing. She’s a romantic at heart, but it lands her in lots of trouble.
5. Do you have any tips for emerging authors?
Don’t get stuck on your first novel. I took over 8 years to let go of my first book and to try something new!
6. Who are the authors that inspire you and what genres do you enjoy reading?
If I could write like anyone it would be the Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya. Her short stories are sensational. I also love Raymond Carver and Anton Chekhov and Emile Zola. I enjoy reading literary fiction mostly.
7. Being a writer is a great job but what’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Working at the Cheesecake Shop factory one Christmas. I must have been about 18. I was shut in a walk-in cooler for 8 hours a day in a white lab coat cutting cheesecakes out of their tin. I don’t think I went back on the third day!
8. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?
My mini blender, chia seeds and My Darling Lemon Thyme cookbook.
9. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?
Tights, dresses and boots.
10. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?
Squashed sultanas, old receipts and my daughter’s headband. My character, Luisa, in the first chapter of The Replacement Wife, pulls a cricket box out of her handbag, instead of her purse, in front of her new love interest … she apologises saying, ‘I don’t usually keep dick protectors in my handbag …’ It’s her son’s! Mothers end up with all sorts of crap in their handbags.
11. A few of your favorites…
Favorite scent? My children’s freshly washed hair
Favorite color? Red
Favorite food? Ancient grain salad
Favorite word? shenanigans
Favorite book? The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere with a beach
Favorite time period in history? Pre-Revolution Russia
Favorite article of clothing? A long gingham skirt I bought at a vintage store in Hiroshima
Favorite drink of choice? Kombucha
12. Either or…
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Red wine or white? Red wine
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Summer or Winter? Winter
Sleep in or get up early? Get up early
Apple or PC? Apple
Don’t forget to check out Rowena’s latest novel, The Replacement Wife!