Wife on the Run 2
Paperback / softback Publication Date: 01/11/2014
Paperback / softback Publication Date: 01/11/2014
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Wife on the run
I have to admit that the title, and the books cover really pushed me to read this book. I would have been better off flicking through the first few pages though, because what lies beneath was not what I was expecting at all!
I’m sure that there’s an audience who will very much appreciate the sloppy sexual references in this book (really, how many times do you need to use the phrace ‘his cock sprang up’ in a novel?). The sexual overtones were far too explicit and as I mentioned, sloppy, to add anything valuable to the projection of the story.
Paula is a complex character, who appears to have her life together, until technology causes rifts and dramas in her life and she makes a spur of the moment decision to uproot her sullen children and her aging father, and take a caravan trip around Australia.
The benefits of on the road stories is usually the ability to create connections and meaningful dialogue that furthers the characters emotional bonds. Unfortunately, the book spent more time describing disturbing sexual fantasies (Hamish and Lisel is the case in point). So if you’re looking for a feel good read about a family coming together through adversity, you’ll be disappointed by this novel.
The redeeming factor of the story was Sid and his lovable character – often the wise old man in the story, who guides the children and their mother to thinking outside the box and making meaningful choices in their lives. The other character that I enjoyed was Frank, the mysterious “tour guide/guardian angel” that turns up at opportune times to guide the family on their way.
The other aspect of the novel that was worthwhile was the descriptions of the Australian landscape and towns along the way. There was a real sense of feeling the heat, smelling the ocean and appreciating what Australia has to offer.
Unfortunately I found the sexual aspect to be overbearing and slightly ridiculous, there’s something to be said for subtle inferences to sex in novels, but this one reads more like a Mills and Boon, not my style at all.
If you want to read about middle aged men getting off on underage children on the internet, then this book is perfect for you. If you want to read an Australian story about a family overcoming hardships, then you’d best find another novel!
moving, thought-provoking and quite often utterly hilarious
Wife on the Run is the second novel by Australian author, Fiona Higgins. Paula McInnes, almost forty, has been married to Hamish for seventeen years and has spent much of that time making a good home for him and their now-teenaged children, Caitlin and Lachlan. But suddenly a series of events turns her stable existence upside down, and she decides to escape. She resolves to finally undertake their long-planned-but never-achieved Caravan Adventure Trip Around Australia, taking the kids out of school and leaving Hamish to fend for himself. Her elderly dad, Sid, now a widower, will accompany them, contributing his van and his caravanning expertise, although her sister, Jamie has grave reservations about all this. And as a large portion of the blame for her woes goes to the Internet, their trip will be technology free.
Despite plans and ground rules, things don’t proceed quite as intended: there is some rebellion by the teens and Sid has some quite clever ideas of his own; a rather sexy Brazilian backpacker is thrown into the mix; and Hamish decides he must act to prevent his family from disintegrating.
Higgins gives the reader an original plot that does not necessarily follow expectations. Her characters are easily recognisable from everyday life: the officious headmaster; the conscientious homemaker; the workaholic husband; the enthusiastic retiree; the true-blue Aussie mate; and the concerned older sibling. None of the characters is quite what they first seem: they all have weaknesses and succumb to temptation on occasion. Even the stereotypical chauvinistic male shows some depth as the story progresses, such that, at one point, readers may actually feel a little sorry for him. However, the descriptions of Hamish’s sexual transgressions are quite explicit, and readers should be prepared for the abundant use of expletives in his parts of the narrative, though that certainly gives it an authentic touch. The dialogue is natural and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.
Much of the subject matter is quite topical: Facebook postings that go viral; the pitfalls of internet porn sites; dependence on technology; appropriate Internet supervision of younger users; Higgins also touches on some traditional themes: family loyalty; the hazards of holiday romances; accepting people at face value; the importance of good communication.
This latest offering by Higgins is moving, thought-provoking and quite often utterly hilarious. Readers familiar with her work will not be disappointed and newcomers will be prompted to seek out her earlier novel, The Mothers’ Group.
With thanks to TheReadingRoom and Allen&Unwin for this copy to read and review.