Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge

Rating: 3 stars
Pages: 482 (eBook version)
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Source: NetGalley Review Copy

Synopsis (GoodReads):

Camille Hart, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent. So when doctors tell Camille that her cancer is back—and this time it’s terminal—she decides to put her matchmaking expertise to the test for one final job. Seeking stability for her children and happiness for her husband, Camille sets out to find the perfect woman to replace her when she’s gone. 
But what happens when a dying wish becomes a case of “be careful what you wish for”? For Edward and Camille, the stunning conclusion arrives with one last twist of fate that no one saw coming. 
At once deeply felt and witty, The Replacement Wife is an unforgettable story of love and family, and a refreshing look at the unexpected paths that lead us to our own happy endings


     When I first read the blurb of The Replacement Wife it instantly caught my attention.  The idea that someone would try and find another person to take their place when they die seems far-fetched.  What type of person would think such a thing?  Would the spouse agree?  How would it transpire?  There are some many questions, so many outcomes.  That the idea that someone would try to do this is mind blowing.  But Camille does and The Replacement Wife tells the story what happens when someone tries to carry out such an insane idea.

     It all sounds intriguing, like a train wreck waiting to happen.  I, for one wanted to watch.  But this train is moving slowly, very slowly.  In fact the first two-thirds of the book moved by at a snails pace for me.  I couldn't figure out why I should care.  Yes, Camille has been diagnosis with stage four cancer and given a short time to live.  Yes, she is using her skills as a matchmaker to find a new wife for her husband and step-mom for her children.  All of these things would sound like they would make for a great story, but I found myself struggling to get through it.  The emotions just weren't there for me.  Isn't that what this is suppose to be?  "An unforgettable story of love and family", the love was there, the family was there.  But the emotions that are associated with these two things weren't (at least for me).

     I was on GoodReads, trying to figure out why this books wasn't doing it for me.  One review hit the nail on the head.  The characters did not grow.  Which is a problem, because essentially this is a character driven novel.  Stuff happens, but it is the kind of stuff that you would expect to happen on an normal given day in the course of ones lifetime.  This story was prefect for strong, unforgettable characters that the reader could watch grow and develop.  But they don't.  Camille did learn to appreciate what she had but she did not change very much.  The husband, Edward, was so forgettable that I had to look up his name to write this review.  I can only remember the name of Camille and Edward's son, Zach.  Goudge was not able to make me care about any of her characters.

     One of the reviewers on GoodReads said that this wasn't one of Eileen Goudges' best works (the review did give it high reviews).  I have never read any of Goudges' other works, so maybe it's true.  In fact, I am willing to bet that it is true based on the last one-third of the book where she shined.  Towards the end I really did not want to put it down.  All the emotions that were missing during the first two-thirds were there.  A little bit late for me to care, but enough to propel me towards the end.  Enough for me to want to know what happens to everyone (even the ones who name I can't remember).

     Eileen Goudge did commit two of my biggest pet peeves.  She used pop culture references, which I believe dates a novel and I, personally hate seeing.  She always wrapped everything up in a nice little bow.

Overall Recommendation:

     If someone asked me what I thought about this one, I would say "It's okay."  I didn't hate it, but other than the premise it was all forgettable to me.  I would read another of Eileen Goudges' novels.  I saw enough potential in her writing to want to read more.  I just think that this one, wasn't for me.

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