Three women, three very difficult marriages. Lorna is newly divorced, her ex-husband Stephen having run off to be with a woman half his age. Gloria is married to alcoholic Adrian, whose drinking is driving their adult son away. And Rosalind is married to Ivan, a man who would rather rescue teenage girls and bed their social workers in the process. Three women in their forties who all married older men. Three women who are starting to regret their choice in men.
When Lorna inherits a grand, but crumbling, estate in Sussex from her godfather, the women hatch a plan. Ditch their husbands at Ravenscourt House for a few days at Christmas, so the girls and their children can have a stress-free holiday for once. But things never seem to go as planned.
Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo is a touching Christmas novel that looks at just how much a woman can stand when it comes to "for better or for worse."
I wanted to like this novel, I really did. I loved the premise of the book and couldn’t wait to see what happened. I had thought it was going to be more light-hearted than it was, but I was okay with not getting what I expected there. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t connect with the book.
I found the dialogue to be stilted, I didn’t get much emotion out of it at all. I felt like it was what one thinks someone should say, but not how people would actually talk in that situation. I found it hard to believe that the women were in their forties as their attitudes and behaviour made them seem much younger, especially Lorna.
There was also too much build up to the actual plot. Too much discussing what to do and not enough actually doing it. And quite frankly, these men weren’t difficult, they were complete jerks. The women shouldn’t have ditched them for the holidays, they should have ditched them for good a long time ago!
I was ready to give up 30% of the way in. But I read some reviews of the book where people said it starts out slow, so I decided to keep going. And it did pick up, and it did get better, but I had a hard time enjoying it because I had already checked out.
The good things? This book tackles some difficult subjects like alcohol, infertility, unexpected pregnancy, divorce, and it does take them on in a sensitive way. The book ends in a satisfying way for what it has taken on. The friendship that the three women share is lovely and it’s great to see how the women gave each other strength. And it is nice to see a book take on the characters who are older, and marriages with an age difference.
There are some people who had different, and better, feelings about this book than I did and you can see 4 star reviews from Goodreads here and here. I don’t think I would really recommend this book but I do know that just because I didn’t enjoy it that much, it doesn’t mean others won’t. This book wouldn’t stop me from trying another book from the author.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley. The opinions expressed above are my own.