4 / 5 Stars
Sharply written, acerbic, but perhaps some slightly dodgy messages coming through.
I liked this book. On the whole, I thought it was a lot of fun - very drily written, very humorous in its observations about wealthy women in the US, and a nice 'come-uppance' ending which was satisfying to read. I had a few minor reservations, but first, here's a quick run through of the story.
The Wives follows three women. Karolina is an ex-model who's married to a senator. He wants to run for president and unfortunately, she's in the way. Cue a falsified charge of drink-driving while looking after minors, and a whole lot of bad press attention for poor Karolina.
Meanwhile, her ex-lawyer friend Miriam is running around after her kids, worried about her husband's wandering attentions, and fretting about her weight while stuffing her face with donuts. She gets in touch with Emily, an uber-snarky lady with serious attitude (who spends her time making money from dumb celebs by keeping them away from bad press), and together, the three of them work out how to get revenge on Karolina's horrible husband.
There's a lot that's really fun about this book. I liked the 'set-up job' that the plot hinges on (even if it was a bit far-fetched) and I thought their reactions were all authentic, not to mention feisty and fun. The wry commentary on high society in the US was also very 'on-point', though perhaps a bit stereotyped in places. That aside, it was enjoyable to read and made me giggle in places.
I did have a few minor issues, however. I would have LOVED to see Miriam grow to accept and love her new figure after having children, not suddenly miraculously shed the baby weight and transform back into a sylph-like goddess. Because that really doesn't happen in real life - unless you're blessed with amazing genes. It also propagates this bullsh*t message that we women are pummelled with every day, that in order to be 'attractive', one must also be a teenage-child hipped, wasp-waisted thing with not a scrap of fat on your entire body. After all, it wasn't like Miriam was enormous - she was described as being just a bit heavier, yet somehow this was conveyed as deeply repulsive. Hmm.
However, in fairness, this was counter-balanced by Emily having a lovely positive view of her changing body at the end (without giving anything away). So that helped a bit.
I also felt that Karolina was a bit of a nothing kind of character. She seemed to be predominantly there to represent the 'wronged woman' without much personality of her own. Given that Emily was so feisty and Miriam so bundled with neurosis, it would have been good to see Karolina stand out a bit more. Also... an ex-supermodel who was ragingly gorgeous? Again, this seems to be the theme of the book - let's celebrate external beauty as the ultimate must-have accessory.
That aside, it is an entertaining read- definitely one you could get stuck into on the beach. Just don't read it if you're already feeling paranoid about wearing a bikini...!