They say that love is better the second time around, and while it may be true for some, it simply isn't so for Alison, Fiona, Julia and Susan, all second wives who are fed up with coming second in the lives of their men. The catch is that all the guys have previous attachments of varying degrees to their former wives; while it may seem that divorce or even death would be a sufficient way to cut old ties, the ex-wives apparently didn't receive the memo.
Now I admit it, I've had leftovers for a late-night snack and enjoyed them immensely. I have older sisters and occasionally have worn hand-me-down clothes that I really liked. I've even driven a secondhand car, which was in great condition and enabled me to drive a better vehicle than what I could have afforded new. Cars, clothes and late-night snacks are one thing, but a second husband is yet another. Baggage doesn't even begin to describe what these men bring to their new relationships.
That's the predicament the girls have found themselves in, and now it's up to them to make the best of their situations. That's exactly what they do when they form the illustrious Second Wives Club. The meetings provide these harried women with a forum for cussing and discussing. More than anything, it's a way to hang on to their sanity and share the indignities they suffer at the hands of the dreaded ex-wives with other women who understand their pain all too well.
While the book's premise --- the trials and tribulations of second wives --- is already an amusing idea, it takes on an even richer flavor from the fact that all of these women are British. The British have a wry sense of humor, unique phrases and an ironic point of view that made this read all the more enticing.
THE SECOND WIVES CLUB begins with the wedding of Alison and Luca. Everything is proceeding swimmingly until Luca's ex-wife, Sofia, storms the reception and reclaims the two young sons she shares with Luca from the party. As if that isn't enough, Sofia also has a few choice words for the now blushing (with embarrassment) bride. Luckily, Fiona, a guest at the wedding and a woman who knows the pain of being a second wife, takes Alison under her wing and invites her to a meeting of the Second Wives Club.
Fiona could use another friend herself as she's dealing with a lackadaisical hubby and an angry teenage stepson. While she wasn't to blame for the breakup of his parents, try telling that to Jake who is an expert at wreaking havoc in his stepmother's life.
At the meeting, Alison also meets Julia, a beautiful trophy wife who, in spite of her physical beauty and impressive repertoire of sexual skills, still can't seem to compete with her husband's friendship with his ex-wife.
Then there's Susan. While Susan has yet to marry her man, they've lived together for years with her stepping into the shoes of his now deceased and sainted wife, Caitlin. While she has done everything from raising his daughter, Ellie, to keeping his house, cooking his meals and warming his bed, Susan has a relationship that leaves her feeling disappointed and devalued.
These women though aren't about to sit passively by and allow their men's previous loves to tread on their territory any longer. They take definite and sometimes risky steps to improve their situations. While I won't ruin any of the wonderful surprises this book contains, I will tell you that it's fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny.
THE SECOND WIVES CLUB is a great summer read, a frivolous beach book or even a therapy manual if you're a woman who experiences the unique position of being the second wife. I highly recommend it.
--- Reviewed by Amie Taylor