ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Friday, 27 September 2013

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review - The Woman he Loved Before, Dorothy Koomson

Hello book lovers!

It's time for the monthly Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review in which we choose our best read for the month and write a review. Thanks to the Armchair Squid for starting this meme. Go here for more book reviews.

My favourite book this month is a re-read. I loved this book SO much I dusted it off and got lost in the story again. I first read it last year, lent it to someone, then couldn't resist another read. Definitely the best book I've read this month, so here we go...

Before you read my review, I warn you, if you pick this book up, you won't want to put it down until you finish it, so clear your slate. 

She is out of his life, but is she out of his heart?

I read in the back of the book (I'm someone who has to read Prefaces and Acknowledgements etc) that the author wanted to explore the position of the second wife, with all the variables in the relationship. Dorothea Koomson grabs you by the throat on the first page, and keeps hold of you all the way through, and shakes you at times. 

Koomson is master of dribbling in the backstory in the most salient of places. The re-read helped me to make more sense of the inter-twined storylines. At times the POV is not easily decipherable as the author doesn't use names at the top. I admit I got a little annoyed when I had to really concentrate on what was happening to get the POV.

The main character, Libby, has a cosy life as a beautician, with a gorgeous husband Jack and a big home by the sea in Brighton, England. (The author paints the setting with gentle brushstrokes, which I love. Settings should be characters IMHO). But over time Libby is becoming more unsure if Jack has ever really loved her and if he is over the death of Eve, his first wife. 

When fate intervenes in their relationship in the form of a car crash, Libby has to convalesce. Jack has a secret which Libby slowly remembers during her convalescence, so she decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve, the woman Jack had loved before, and obviously hasn't let go. 

The ugly interview with the police after her injuries makes Libby question everything about her husband. There is a clever scene where Detective Sergeant Morgan is interviewing Libby after the accident where Jack describes his inquisitor: 'She is not ugly to look at, she is simply ugly to be around. They say beauty is only skin deep; ugliness, when it comes to this woman, begins at the core, slimes its way through every artery and vein, fills every organ then spills out to show the world who she really is.' 

Libby brushes aside all questions regarding Jack's intention to kill her, despite that near the beginning of the book she says: 'He wasn't my type when I first met him. But look at us now; him with one dead wife and another on the way.' 

Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve, (which will probably shock you as it did me! Not something you read about everyday!) and is soon unearthing more and more devastating family secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved--dead. Has she married a murderer?

Tense and alarming, yet moving, The Woman He Loved Before explores if the love you want is always the love you need or deserve.

I'm thrilled that Dorothy Koomson has written several novels. I've just embarked on a mission to read them all. I find it hard to categorise her -- women's fiction, contemporary fiction, thriller, chick lit? A bit of everything which fits together perfectly.

READ IT!!

A word from the author: Writing my seventh novel has reminded me AGAIN why I love being an author. It pushes me, it stretches me, it challenges me. The Woman He Loved Before did all of that and more. I found myself in the pits of despair sometimes with the subjects I was writing about, and also questioning everything I’ve ever thought about beauty and looks. I probably wasn’t a whole lot of fun to live with while I was living the lives of Libby, Jack and Eve but as always I’m very proud of the results and hope that anyone who picks it up enjoys what they read.

Note from Denise: 
Sometimes I contact the author when I've loved a book a lot. I tweeted @DorothyKoomson and was thrilled when she replied. Okay, it may have been her PR person, but at least she acknowledged the tweet. 
And her website is great. She offers a free e-book. Always good. Visit her here.

Now I can't leave without announcing WEP's great October blogfest, HAUNTING! I hope you'll find your scary place and join in! There is a $10 Amazon Gift Card for Denise's favourite entry! Sign up at Write...Edit...Publish or in my right-hand sidebar. Thanks, scary ones...




37 comments:

  1. Hmmm ... I don't see my comment. Anyway, I just signed up, have the badge on my side bar, and will do a shout out for the Blogfest on Monday.

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    1. Thank you Stephen. Your comment is fine. No doubt Google is doing something tricky. It looks different. Worryingly, like the Google+ comment system...hmm.

      Thank you for signing up this time and thanks for the shoutout on Monday! Good stuff!

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  2. Nice review and as for that hmmm I checked and I have a haunting scheduled for that day, into christmas now at my shore lol, if a video for the story is fine, I can play

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    1. A video sounds fine
      If not sublime
      Mr Hatt.

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  3. What a wonderful quote from her book. This sounds absolutely amazing.
    Nancy

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    1. The book is full of wonderful quotes Nancy. I hope you decide to read it. Try the free ebook first. See what you think.

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  4. Great review.

    I signed up for haunting. Early this month. Something must be wrong with me :)

    ......dhole

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    1. Great to see you Can't wait. making your decision early this time, Donna!

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  5. Sounds like a fun book. Anything worth a re-read has gotta be good.

    Glad you're joining us again, Denise!

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  6. I loved The Woman He Loved before too. It was the first Dorothy Koomson book I read and I've been on a mission to catch up ever since!

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    1. I'm on my fourth one now Jennifer. Just started Rose Petal Beach. Great, aren't they?

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  7. Sounds like a frightening book and one I would like to read. I will look out for it. Thanks for telling us about it.

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    1. Thanks for coming by Jo. I think you would love this book. :D

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  8. I loved this book! I agree that it is difficult to put the book down..... But then all of her books are. Great that she replied to your tweet

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    1. Lovely to hear from you GaynorB. Long time! Glad to hear from someone else who's read this book. Now I've read 3 and am on my fourth. :D

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  9. Ooh, this book sounds like it has so many layers!

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  10. "The author paints the setting with gentle brushstrokes, which I love. Settings should be characters IMHO"

    Couldn't agree more!

    I like it when a little mystery abounds when it comes to the one a character has hastily married. Really makes the reader wonder...

    This books sounds like it would be good!

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    1. I love excellently-crafted settings and Koomson does this so well. It is a great read. :D

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  11. What a great topic! I remember dating guys who were still hung up on old girlfriends and wow is it tough. Can't imagined being married to someone with that kind of emotional baggage. Sounds like a great read.

    And a spooky blogfest! I'm all over it!! And thanks for signing up for mine too! :D

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    1. Yes, I found it riveting. Glad you're joining up for the 'fest. It will be a hoot, or a scream!! Looking forward to yours, too. :D

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  12. Hey, Denise! I just signed up for your spooky blogfest. Nice idea. :)

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    1. Thanks Suze. How exciting to have you join for the 'fest!

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  13. Oh my goodness! This book sounds so amazing and now I have to find out what happens...can't you just tell me real quick?! LOL I have to know...
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful review, now I have to find this book and read the ending first so I know what happens (sigh), okay maybe I'll try to resist and start from the front. :)
    -Michelle

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  14. Lovely review, how wonderful that you contact the authors of the books you love. I was late, but got my review up this morning. I do have to work on my timing! Not signed up for the Haunting, yet!

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  15. If the sentence about the inquisitor is anything to go by, then I need to read this book! It sounds intriguing and you highlight some of the same things I look for in a good read. Setting should be a character! Thanks, Denise, for this!

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    1. You'd love it I"m sure. I love reading about places as well as people. All the better if both are in a book!

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  16. That sounds like the kind of book that would keep you up at night!

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  17. Terrific review, Denise....

    I always re-read books I love... It's like visiting with an old friends....

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  18. Another great suggestion! My TBR list is growing into a monster, LOL

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  19. Interesting and intriguing. Great review Denise. Thanks for posting.

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  20. Lovely cover design.
    It's great when you find a book you can read again. I'm rereading The Great Gatsby again this week :)

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  21. Wowee - this book sounds great! Adding it to my TBR right now.

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  22. I always read the extras in books, too.

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