Marriage and Other Games – Veronica Henry

This is one of the earlier novels by Veronica Henry and is a real good read and a great indication of how good this author’s work is. And whilst they are women’s fiction novels which are dominated by women Henry actually manages to create male characters that are just as strong as the female ones.

In this novel we meet Charlotte a woman who has worked hard and plays hard, she wants just one thing and it is evading her and her husband Ed. When Ed’s action result in a visit from the police, Charlotte’s world is suddenly changed and she retreats to Withybrook on the wilds of Exmoor.

In Withybrook Sebastian has made his name as an artist, but doesn’t seem to have the next painting in him. Perhaps he is just looking for his muse? His wife, Caitlin is trying to do everything to keep Sebastian in the limelight whilst forging her own career in television, trouble is she has no real friends and Sebastian seems to be becoming more of a local and this is not going to please Caitlin.

Penny is divorced and finding herself again, her teenage children are not interested in being part of a family and she is rather smitten with a local. Will her life change?

Hayley is a local girl from a local family who has ambitions beyond Withybrook. She thinks of nothing of leaving behind her two beautiful daughters and her husband Fitch to pursue something unreachable.

All these characters obviously interact and the setting of Withybrook bring a community feel to this book. The beauty of the writing is you can feel and let the characters get under your skin. Charlotte’s reaction to her husband actions made me think what I would do and actually upon reflection was it the right course of action. I despised Caitlin and her driving ambition to be someone, whilst she left her real self behind and resulted in driving a wedge in her relationship. Penny irritated me as if she had a chip on her shoulder but that was not a bad thing, it shows how characters are all so different. I admit to falling in love with Fitch and positively wanted to scream at Hayley with her actions.

As you can see the book got under my skin and I had no idea what was going to happen, what the happy ending would be and whether it would all be all right in the end. Of course you will have to find out yourself.

I know this is one of the last books I read in 2014 and therefore uppermost in my mind, but this is one of my favourite books of that year.