THE OTHER WOMAN by Jane Green is the story of almost every married woman's nightmare: the Mother-In-Law. The book traces Ellie and Dan Cooper's marriage, using flashbacks and present-day narrative to help tell the story.
Ellie Black's relationship with her mother-in-law slowly evolves from one of friendship to that of an adversary. The two women meet while Dan and Ellie are dating. Ellie's own mother was an alcoholic, and so Ellie never truly knew what it was like to have a maternal figure in her life. Meeting Linda Cooper is not a bad experience, and Ellie is looking forward to becoming friends with her future mother-in-law.
But as Ellie and Dan's relationship grows closer and the wedding draws near, Ellie starts seeing a different side to Linda, and it's not very favorable. Ellie could use the word "controlling" to describe her, especially since Ellie no longer feels in control of her own wedding. It has now become Linda's wedding. And when Ellie and Dan find out they are about to become new parents, it is Linda who rushes out to buy baby things, without giving Ellie a chance to enjoy the first pleasures of motherhood. It is as if Linda has no regard for Ellie's feelings or opinions. What makes it worse is that Dan never seems to back up Ellie when she feels that his mother is manipulating her. He thinks his wife is behaving in an unreasonable and childish manner.
At first Ellie wants to believe that she and Linda can be friends, but she finds herself becoming angrier with Linda and Dan with each passing day. As her relationship with Linda deteriorates, so does her relationship with Dan. The man she felt so much love for at the beginning of their marriage is no longer that same man. And when an accident that involves Michael and Linda and the newborn baby occurs, this is all Ellie can take. The reader will watch as Ellie's marriage to Dan changes from one that is idyllic and wonderful to one that is strained and full of misery.
A good part of the story is told in a very comical and entertaining tone, but as the novel progresses and their marriage begins to disintegrate, the tone becomes more serious and the reader will wish that Ellie and Dan can mend their relationship. Throughout the book, Ellie blames her woes on her mother-in-law, but is Linda really to blame? As a reader, this reviewer had problems agreeing with the way Ellie reacted to the "other woman" in her life, but this was definitely the author's intention. At times Ellie did indeed seem to be behaving like a child and acting unreasonably, not being able to put herself in Linda's shoes. As the reader will find out, sometimes things are not what they seem, and people can be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Ellie comes across as very selfish and self-centered in some instances, but was she merely reacting the way any sane woman would to a mother-in-law who is controlling and manipulative?
This is yet another Jane Green novel that this reviewer greatly enjoyed, each one being very different from the last. The author does not seem to use the same "mold" to write each novel, which makes her books a favorite for this reviewer. THE OTHER WOMAN will have one laughing at, but also at times commiserating with, both Ellie and Linda. And, as usual, Green does a wonderful job creating real characters who the reader will relate to or, at the very least, enjoy reading about. She is great at producing stories that revolve around relationships --- whether it is between a man and a woman, or just friends --- and telling the story of a relationship, from beginning to end, complete with all the nuances and intricacies that only the most attentive person will notice. And while it is up to the reader to find out whether or not Dan and Ellie find their "happy ever after," most people will be assured that any novel by Green will be worth reading. This reviewer is always on the lookout for a new novel by her, and highly recommends this one.
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton on January 14, 2011
The Other Woman