The Other Half
Chloe works as a features editor for the London-based women's magazine Babe. She has dreams, though, of inventing a completely original magazine for women, one that is grittier and much less focused on cooking, makeup, fashion, and tips on how to snare a man. As the story opens, she has an appointment with a new publisher at the magazine group in order to pitch her idea. She is flustered and rushed in the morning. Her only businesslike outfit is stained, so she reluctantly dresses in a flowery, low-necked dress that accentuates her considerable cleavage. At the office, her assistant informs her that the new publisher, James Slater, is incredibly handsome. “And married," someone else adds.
At the moment, Chloe doesn't care how gorgeous or married the publisher might be; she's too frazzled at the idea of her upcoming meeting with him, which is so important to her career. She rushes to the bathroom, running smack into the arms of a gorgeous stranger and blurting that she is urgently in need of a pee. Naturally, a bit later she discovers that attractive man is none other than James Slater, the publisher she must impress with her innovative magazine pitch.
"[T]he overall tone, which shifted from light and frivolous to rather dark and sad, felt admirably true to the plot --- and, coupled with excellent pacing, made THE OTHER HALF impossible not to finish once begun."
Maggie, James's wife, arises on the morning Chloe is dressing for her important meeting with her own imperative purpose in mind. She must take her temperature immediately in order to record it on her ovulation chart. Hoping to have another baby before Nathan, their six-year-old, gets too much older, she wakes up her husband with the happy news that she is ovulating at this very moment. Unfortunately for her, he reacts by leaping from the bed saying he has a full day of meetings and must get to the office. Of course, Maggie is disappointed, but that emotion would pale into oblivion if she could peer into the future to see the repercussions that one of James's meetings will eventually have on her life.
During the meeting with James, Chloe overcomes her first impression, managing to impress him with her ideas and the market research she has documented. Chloe's enthusiasm for her proposed new magazine appears to infect James, too. He promises to consult with others about the possibility, which delights her. However, he has left her wondering. It almost seemed that there was some undercurrent of attraction between them. Surely not, she decides, blaming her momentary confusion on the lightheadedness she's suffering from her frantic morning.
Meanwhile, Maggie has prepared for that evening by shopping for some racy lingerie. She feels impatient when James returns home late, partly because she believes it's important for him to help with Nathan's bedtime. He finally does arrive, and her new garments appear to have the desired effect. Her fingers are crossed that she soon will be celebrating her pregnancy. However, their relationship is on its way to a major upheaval as Chloe and James cannot resist the chemistry between them.
Sarah Rayner’s story, with its unique angle of relating the perspective of both wife and mistress, kept me turning pages well into the night. However, Chloe's eagerness to jump into and continue the affair and Maggie's puzzling passivity made it somewhat difficult to sympathize with either woman. Still, the overall tone, which shifted from light and frivolous to rather dark and sad, felt admirably true to the plot --- and, coupled with excellent pacing, made THE OTHER HALF impossible not to finish once begun.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 4, 2014
The Other Half
- Publication Date: March 25, 2014
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
- ISBN-10: 1250042100
- ISBN-13: 9781250042101