Normally I’m not a fan of novels about infidelity, and now I’ve gone and read two in a row. I mean, I know that marital infidelity makes a great plot and I don’t mind people writing about it, but I do have a problem with a novel that somehow manages to make me cheer for the person who is cheating on their spouse, as though this will solve their problems or someting. The Pretend Wife, though, puts a very unusual spin on the whole question of cheating.
Gwen is settled, if not deliriously happy, in her marriage to Peter when she runs into an old college boyfriend, Elliot. She remembers her relationship with Elliot as overwhelming: she loved him too much, and feels that such a love can only be disastrous. But when Elliot asks Gwen to accompany him to his family’s summer home to pose as his wife so he can assure his dying mother he is married, she steps out of her cautious character and accepts.
Complications ensue, of course. Gwen not only finds her old attraction to Elliot flaring up, she also feels an unexpected sense of kinship with his family, especially the dying mother. This drives Gwen not only to re-examine her relationship with Peter, but also the secrets of her own family that provide the key to her own unhappiness.
I got quite caught up in this story, in which I felt the author had created believable characters facing a genuine dilemma. Unfortunately, a plot twist near the end of the story made a satisfactory resolution far easier than it should have been, and I felt cheated by the ending. Still, it’s an enjoyable read, and not every reader will have the same problems I did with how the storyline is resolved.