This week I received a copy of a debut novel by Tamar Cohen called The Mistress's Revenge. This was sent to me by Waterstone's, I've been reviewing books for Waterstone's for some time and I'm one of their 'Top Ten Contributor' reviewers now. I review for them under my own name, and don't receive any payment for my reviews.
So, back to The Mistress's Revenge. Tamar Cohen is a freelance journalist who has been writing for over 20 years and has had her work published in The Times, The Telegraph and Marie Claire, amongst others. I've noticed lately that more and more journalists are publishing fiction these days.
With a title like The Mistress's Revenge, I really wasn't sure what to expect - the title reminds me of the pile of Mills and Boons that my Mum would have stacked by her bed when I was growing up. Please, don't be put off by the title!! This is as far away from mushy romance as you can get.
The story is narrated by Sally - it's a rambling narrative and she is speaking directly to Clive, her ex-lover. Sally and Clive have been having an affair for five years, he's married and a TV presenter, she lives with her long-term partner Daniel and their two children.
At first I found the style and the content very difficult to get into, I just couldn't connect with Sally at all and just got annoyed by her incessant pestering of Clive, her obsession with him and her neglect of her family. Gradually though I felt myself being pulled into her life and by the middle of the book I was hooked and just couldn't stop reading.
Sally's whole life begins to fall apart around her, she watches Clive and his family via the Internet, friending his wife and daughter on Facebook and 'accidentally' bumping into his son. There is an air of desperation around Sally - she can't see a life without Clive and can't understand why he no longer wants anything to do with her - didn't he tell her he loved her? Didn't they spend many many hours in nondescript hotel rooms?
As Sally becomes more obsessed with Clive, she spends less and less time caring for her family, her children are abandoned, her partner has no idea what is happening to her, her work dries up and she becomes more and more dependent on tablets just to get her through each day.
Sally watches Clive and his wife Susan renew their wedding vows, she manages to get an invitation to his daughter's baby shower, she just can't stay away from them.
This is an extraordinary novel, unique in style and a compelling read - Sally and Clive are both pretty obnoxious characters at times, but even so I needed to know how this sad and sordid relationship was going to end. And it's the end of the novel that bring that 'jaw-dropping' moment - just when you think you've worked it all out, it all turns upside down - shocking and unexpected and a fabulous finale.
Tamar Cohen has produced a quirky, original novel and I'm hoping that this is just the start of a successful career as a fiction author for her.