In all honesty, the blurb for The Wife Who Got A Life (TWWGAL) doesn’t really read like a book I’d make an effort to reach for.
Cathy Collins is a mum on a mission – to change her life.
When her husband drops a midlife-crisis bombshell,
Cathy decides it’s time to take control.
No more laundry, teenage tantrums or housework.
After years of putting herself last, she’s going to be first for a change.
Cathy Collins is carving a new path, and nothing is going to get in her way…
It’s the kind of book I’d pick up in a waiting room of some sort, cast an eye over at a friend’s house, I’d find in the book swap area at work when I’d left the book I was wanting to read behind. Over the last few years after devouring years of ‘chick lit’ I have got a bit bored with what’s labelled ‘women’s fiction’ now as a lot of it felt like it didn’t relate to me and was a bit too frothy and full of happy endings for my liking, but thanks to Tracy Bloom and the Pigeonhole online book club I’ve realised I’ve been missing out a bit.
Cathy is in her late 40s, rapidly approaching perimenopause with two older teenage children, 2 very different sisters, a well-meaning but chronically useless husband and is utterly stuck in a rut. She is about as anti-setting-motivational-goals as you can get but chivvied into action by her vegan-yoga teaching-LA living health nut sister Lizzie buying her a journal for Christmas, she decides to write a secret list of things she’d like to change and see how she goes from there.
Let me tell you right now, Cathy is super annoying at times. She makes daft decisions, does silly things, complains about things she could very easily change, lets people walk all over her and essentially is the sole reason that her life descends into disarray, and because of this there were a few times when situations narrowly avoided descending into complete farce and I felt on the verge of not carrying on, but deep down, something in me that identified with Cathy carried me on. Then we start to get towards the middle of the book and amongst the chaos the emerging themes start become more sensitive, more touching, more poignant. The characters are all brilliantly drawn and importantly they felt real to me – their foibles and softer spots all wrapped up in brasher exteriors which is true of so many of us.
I think what made me really enjoy this book is that the characters and the situations felt so real. The arguing over who is going to change their elderly parents’ bedsheets and clean their toilet when they can’t manage it anymore; the family dynamics, the lack of communication between spouses that can so easily be resolved by just talking to each other – and of course representing and normalising the once taboo, yet emerging theme of peri/menopause in everyday life makes a refreshing change.
If you’re looking for a light, yet not fluffy book that deals with some difficult themes in a light-hearted, yet thoughtful way, you won’t go far wrong with The Wife Who Got A Life.
Published by Harper Collins, 15th April 2021.