Essentially, for me, this was a story that showed the dark fickleness of men (apologies – I know that not ALL men should be tarred with the same brush!), and the ease with which many women (again, not ALL) are willing to fall back into what is familiar.
Told from the point of view of four women whose lives all centre around Mark (I didn’t think he sounded worth all the attention, to be honest), this is sometimes painful to witness. While he’s married to Paula, Mark has an affair with Jenny, which results in a daughter named Ava. He then decides to go back to Paula and they have a daughter, Daisy. Jenny marries someone else and has another daughter called Ellie. But then, just to prove how shallow he really is (as if we hadn’t already realised), Daisy is diagnosed with autism and Mark decides this wasn’t something he’d signed up for and he leaves her and her mother to muddle along on their own! He returns to Jenny and opts for a marriage to her.
For some reason, this guy has the ridiculous idea that perfection is attainable. He hasn’t quite realised that it doesn’t exist. He has zero notion of the fact that he himself is not perfect! Mercer has created a wholly unlikeable man. I don’t think she’s intended him to take on the role of ‘Everyman’, but he naturally does here.
The women in his life aren’t a whole lot better either, but I found that perversely I couldn’t wait to turn each page to see how they would next allow themselves to be manipulated into believing whatever suited both their needs and Marks. The only ones who lose in the end are the children while their parents proceed to wade deeper and deeper into a swamp of discontent.
So what we have here is basically a very juicy and cleverly written cautionary tale of what traps to avoid in the winding road of dating, marriage and men in general! Mercer paints a picture of the lowest of the low: a man who feels he can pick and choose his partners at leisure without a care in the world for their feelings, or for who he hurts along the way, casually discarding people along the wayside, while he continues on his merry way to the next victim! Men like this are usually quite average themselves, but expect perfection in who they surround themselves with. They’re looking for a woman who will idolise them, not someone who will show them up to be just an Average Joe.
I sound like a complete Man-Hater and I’m really not – but I think that Ali Mercer did a really good job in creating a character who will get many readers riled up enough to feel quite strongly about the role that Mark plays in the lives of the women in this book and his responsibility to them. And by doing so, hopefully, readers will also take a good look at their own partners (current and future) and lives and have a clearer picture of what to look out for and what they’re willing to accept for themselves. This is a 4-Star read!
Ali decided she wanted to be a writer early on and wrote her first novel when she was at primary school. She did an English degree and spent her early twenties working in various jobs in journalism, including as a reporter for the showbusiness newspaper The Stage. She started writing fiction in earnest after getting married, moving out of London to the Oxfordshire market town of Abingdon and starting a family. She has two children, a daughter and a son who is autistic and was diagnosed when he was four years old.
Ali is fascinated by families, their myths and secrets, and the forces that hold them together, split them up and (sometimes) bring them back together again. She always travels with tissues and a book and has been known to cry over a good story but is also a big fan of the hopeful ending.
Author Social Media Links:
For updates and pictures, follow Ali on Twitter (@AlisonLMercer) or Instagram (@alimercerwriter), or on her Facebook page (AliMercerwriter).
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