It is always tricky to review the book of a friend, even if it is only the friend of a friend of your husband. Which is how I came to read and review the “first” novel by Bridget Asher, the pseudonymous author of My Husband’s Sweethearts. (Who she is in real life does not matter for the purposes of this review.) And so it was with great trepidation that I opened the book and began to read, after first noting that the cover seemed to scream “chick lit,” a genre which I not only do not understand but try to stay away from.
But I was needlessly worried on all counts. The book is good. Very good. And it is not chick lit at all (think instead of the early novels Elizabeth Berg when she was still writing well). It is, I suppose, a book written for women, although I think men might well enjoy it a lot (and get a lot of insight into female thinking from it), but the main thing is that My Husband’s Sweethearts is deftly plotted, extremely witty, in some places laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, well-crafted, and a startlingly compelling read.
One caveat: Do not read the inside book jacket copy. It will give too much of the enjoyable plot twists away (which I promise not to do here) and it is written in cloying prose not deserving of the book itself. In fact, do not ever read the inside book jacket copy of any novel you are reading in hardcover: it is there to sell books to people who have no idea on earth why they are buying the book in the first place and like bad movie previews telegraphs all the good (and bad stuff). You might as well save yourself the price of the book.
My Husband’s Sweethearts is the story of Lucy, a buttoned-down auditor who didn’t always used to be quite so buttoned-downed. Artie, her beloved husband of four years, has been cheating on her with two old sweethearts and one new one, and after leaving him to travel on business for several months, Lucy is going home to face him and figure out if and how she can forgive him. The fly in the ointment is that Artie has developed a sudden and serious heart condition that is, supposedly, killing him. Will it make it easier for her to let her anger go now that he is dying? Is he really going to die? Why did he cheat on her if he professes to love her so? And what is she supposed to do about his infidelity? All these questions are considered, and most importantly, Asher is brave enough to tackle the really tough question of fidelity itself: just how important is it to a marriage?