Review

Wives Behaving Badly

by Elizabeth Buchan



I look to sequels to continue my relationship with the characters I
liked in the first book.

REVENGE OF THE MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN was, in my mind, a truly
successful book in that it gave me Rose, a woman whose life was
destroyed by a manipulative younger woman, yet who rose (her name
being all the more appropriate) above what happened and embodied
the old adage that living well is the best revenge.

Rose was likable and memorable, and I wanted her to succeed. I
wanted to see her come out from under the pain of her failed
marriage and blossom. And I disliked --- with a capital D --- Minty
Lloyd, the above-mentioned manipulative younger woman who stole
Rose's husband Nathan from her and then added insult to injury by
stealing her job, too.

REVENGE was Rose's story. WIVES BEHAVING BADLY is Minty's. Now
married to Nathan seven years later and with twin boys, Minty is
the cliché second wife. Nathan's longtime friends have not
accepted her. Nathan's children with Rose barely tolerate her. And,
to top it off, Nathan dwells in nostalgic desire for his former
life.  Recognizing this, Minty says, "memories do not obey
commands. You cannot pronounce that the past is in the past. It is
there. Dug in." Married life is not the bed of roses she had dreamt
of: "the silences that characterized Nathan's and my life together
were deceptive, for they were noisy with the unsaid." In need of
something beyond marital blisslessness, Minty opts to return to
work, only to be reminded there that she is not the chic, hip
youngster she was when she left the business world. She is
surrounded by former versions of herself and the threat that comes
with that.

Rose's ever presence --- in the lives of the children, on late
night television shows, in Nathan's journal --- taunts Minty, as it
should. She cannot escape what she did. Nor should she.

The strongest redeeming quality of WIVES BEHAVING BADLY is that
whatever negative feelings we had for Minty in REVENGE are
reconfirmed here. It is difficult to find something about Minty to
like. Buchan could have written a sequel to her highly successful
REVENGE that made the reader feel for Minty or that followed Rose's
new life. Instead, she took a more realistic approach and showed
Minty to be the petulant husband-stealing woman she is --- even
after she's settled into what should be the perfect marriage,
family and home.

WIVES BEHAVING BADLY is successful in that it reminds us that
getting what you want doesn't always prove to be a happy ending ---
especially if getting what you want is something that belongs to
someone else.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 24, 2011

Wives Behaving Badly
by Elizabeth Buchan

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 014311218X
  • ISBN-13: 9780143112181