Leda and Lillian are identical twins yet very different. While Leda has always been the wild one with a free and adventurous spirit, Lillian is a lot more repressed and has lived her life according to a strict plan. Now that they’re both in their thirties and married their lives should be settled but both women are about to discover that life still holds shocks and surprises.
Leda has just moved into a new house with her Russian husband and young daughter. Even before she moves in she attracts the attention of the builder working on the house next door. And before she’s quite aware of it the man seems to be around all the time, constantly finding opportunities to be in her company and in her house. Leda has found herself a stalker who knows more about her past than even her husband does and Leda can’t help being afraid of the man. She doesn’t know what fear is though, until the builder disappears and the police start investigating what happened to him.
Lillian is preparing for what may well be one of the most difficult trails of her career when she discovers her sister’s dark secret and a side to her husband that she never knew existed. When the facts she uncovers for the trail show links to the secret her sister has kept for so long Lillian finds herself discovering things about herself she never knew.
This is a strange one for me. The Secret Lives of Married Women was a very easy book to read and yet it is proving very hard to review. Part of the problem is that rather than one continued story this book contains two separate narratives. While there are some links between Leda’s and Lillian’s stories, these are superficial at best. The continuity lies in the fact that both sisters find themselves in situations they are ill prepared for and dealing with them in ways they wouldn’t have been able to imagine. If, like me, you find yourself waiting for a closer connection between the two stories to be revealed you will be disappointed; I know I was.
I was also slightly bewildered that my favourite character in this book was not either of the two sisters but rather a secondary character in Lillian’s story. Nan’s story, for me, was the most powerful and heart-wrenching one. The orphan raised by nuns who resigns her job as a professional submissive when she has the opportunity to become the personal assistant for a blind developer, only to lose what has been the best thing that ever happened to her was equally beautiful and devastating. Unfortunately I can’t say more without completely spoiling the story.
The cover of this book seems to suggest that this is a rather sexy, if not raunchy book. And while there are certain scenes in this book that more than live up to that promise, I wouldn’t call this erotic fiction. But then, I wouldn’t call this a crime novel either even though there is an investigation in Leda’s part of the story and a trail in Lillian’s. In fact, I’m not quite sure how to label this book.
What I can say with certainty is that this is a good book that managed to surprise me on several occasions. This is a very well written novel containing a fascinating and easy to read story which is never quite what you expect it to be. And in these days, when a lot of books appear to be written according to a formula, that makes a very nice change.