Book Review: Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo

Title: Difficult Husbands
Author: Mary de Laszlo
Published: 31 October 2014
Publisher:  Bookouture
Twitter: @adelica

Three friends. One surprise inheritance. And the perfect plan to deal with troublesome husbands at Christmas time…
Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.
Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?
Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…
An entertaining story of family, friendship and new beginnings that will delight fans of Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews and Katie Fforde.
Thanks to Bookoutre and Net Galley for sending me a free review copy of this book.
This is a tale of family, friends and new beginnings. It deals with some difficult subjects such as marriage breakdowns, alcoholism, adultery, financial difficulties and death, whilst emphasising the importance of friendship, support and family.
I first want to say that this book was okay. Whilst the start of the book felt a bit slow going, it started so pick up half way through. It is an easy read and the story had potential. However, I also found some parts of it incredibly irritating.
Lorna, the main protagonist, seemed somewhat feeble to me. Married young to a much older man, she feels understandably betrayed when he enters a mid-life crisis and leaves her for a younger woman.
Gloria, a supporting character, is in a similar situation, except that her older husband is an alcoholic, refusing to seek help for his problems.
Finally, there is Rosalind, whose older husband is ignoring his wife and children whilst focusing his attention on worthy causes. We learn very little about Rosalind and it feels as though she is only there to add another ‘difficult husband’ to the mix.

The ladies feel as though their husbands (and ex-husband) are ruining and endangering their relationships with their children, so when Lorna inherits a large country house they come up with a plan to leave the husbands stranded in the countryside for Christmas.
Unfortunately, whilst the story had potential, there are areas where the story could have been improved, such as going into more depth about their lives before the problems and by considering the husbands’ point of view. No mention is made of any fault on the wives’ part in contributing to the failing marriages or that upon retirement the men may have realised that they have simply grown apart from their younger wives and need to find something new in their lives. There are always two sides to every story and this book very clearly only presents one side of the coin.
I didn’t feel that I could really empathise with the characters, maybe because I am younger and have never been in a similar situation to them, but also because I did not like the way in which they reacted to their difficulties. Why, when informed of her daughter’s premature labour, did Lorna become hysterical to the extent that she was unable to continue with the call or have a coherent thought? I did not understand this.
In additon, the author seemed to feel the need to keep re-emphasising the theme of the difficult husbands and not in a very subtle fashion. This inserted a degree of repetition into the story which felt unnecessary.
In addition, I felt as though the author was not just telling a story, but also putting forward her own strong views about subjects to the point that I felt this book to be almost a piece of propoganda. She obviously has quite a strong dislike of anti-depressants, referring on a number of occasions to how Lorna’s husband went off the rails after being given medication by his doctor. She also appears to be opposed to age differences within marriages. The story contains numerous digs at older men marrying younger women, with mentions of impotence and disgust at the idea of an older man fathering a child with a younger woman. The author really seems to be intent on showing a stereotypical view of older men going though mid-life crises and what women should expect when marrying an older man. It has an odd feeling of bitterness to it.
There were some other aspects within the story which I found difficult to relate to. For example, Lorna’s children expecting that their divorced parents would be spending Christmas together. In a world where divorce now seems, regrettably, to be the norm, I do not know any children of divorced parents who would expect those parents to still come together at Christmas. For the children in this story to make such an issue of their mother refusing to contemplate this idea, seems unlikely and unrealistic.
On a positive note, the book seemed (other than a couple of typo’s) to be well edited and I quite liked De Laszlo’s style of writing, however the story would have been more enjoyable for me had is focused more on the story of the inherited house and Nathan, rather than the depressing storyline involving the husbands.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
The book is released in electronic format and is currently priced at £0.99 on Amazon UK.  
About the Author

Mary De Laszlo

Mary de Laszlo worked for Queen Magazine in the 1960s. She also worked in Paris, in the fashion department of Jardins des Modes. She now lives in London and writes full time.



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