Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆, 2/5
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Mystery/Psychological thriller
Blurb: When Fran Hall wakes in the middle of the night in the isolated farmhouse she shares with her husband Nathan and two children something seems wrong. Nathan is missing from their bed and when Fran realises he’s not in the house she ventures outside into the dark yard. It’s not long before Fran discovers Nathan’s body lying in a ditch not far from their home, and suddenly her world is turned upside down. She’s now under the scrutiny of the police and as the investigation gets under way it starts to seem that Nathan had more secrets than even Fran could have believed. But was he the only one with something to hide?
The fact that I’m even reviewing a book that I’ve ended up rating 2/5 stars is shocking in itself. As will become increasingly obvious, I’m quite brutal when it comes to books I choose to read. Due to the sheer number of books in existence and thus the swelling of my ever-growing ‘To Read’ pile, I’m merciless when it comes to starting new books. If I’m not hooked within 10-15 pages, I’ll quite happily put the book back on my shelf to sit collecting dust for the next few years. There are far too many books in this world to be wasting time reading any that are even slightly below par.
I read one of Christobel Kent’s books, The Crooked House, a couple of years ago, and having really enjoyed it I was keen to have a go at The Loving Husband when I found it as part of a 3 for £5 offer at one of my local bookshops – aren’t those offers FAB?!
The first thing that really struck me was how similar the two books seemed. Of course, there’s always going to be similarities in novels that are written by the same author, but in this case as soon as I started drawing comparisons I found it difficult to separate the two stories in my head.
The protagonists are very similar – beaten down women that are victims of manipulative and slightly psychotic men; both of the novels feature dodgy lead male characters; creepy, old houses are prevalent in both; each story is set or heavily involves a weird, semi-isolated village by the sea; and there’s a key female “best friend” character that somehow winds up heavily tangled in the narrative. I can’t offer comment on any of Kent’s other works, but she either unintentionally follows a certain rubric, or she’s an inconspicuous feminist that enjoys victimising female characters to the perversions of men.
Kent’s writing is somewhat problematic too. I recall picking up on it when reading The Crooked House, but it was often unbearable in this novel. I’d find myself having to reread paragraphs as the sentences were kind of sporadic and all over the place. She jumps from past to present far too often and it’s difficult to understand what’s happening.
Which brings me to the ending – to be quite honest I don’t feel I can even comment on it properly as I wouldn’t for the life of me be able to tell you what happened. The jumpy writing just became too much and I really couldn’t figure out what was happening to who, but at this point I didn’t really care either. I was reading purely to finish the book so I could move on to another, which is a shame.