I love a good Sheila O’Flanaghan novel, so I was delighted when I turned on my kindle one morning last week and found her new novel The Missing Wife waiting for me. The trouble with kindle is I sometimes forget I’ve pre-ordered some thing, but it’s usually a delightful surprise (sometimes it’s an, “oh shit I forgot about that, has my direct debit bounced?” 😨).
I think I pre-ordered this before the synopsis was available, but it is being hailed as the new “Gone Girl” novel. We know how I feel about books pedalled as being the “new” anything, but it’s SOF so I read it immediately. The blurb says:
“Have you ever wanted to disappear?
When Imogen Naughton vanishes, everyone who knows her is shocked. She has a perfect marriage. Her handsome husband treats her like a princess. She’s always said how lucky she is. So why has she left? And how will she survive without Vince?
What goes on behind closed doors is often a surprise, and Imogen surprises herself by taking the leap she knows she must. But as she begins her journey to find the woman she once was, Imogen’s past is right behind her…
Will it catch up with her? And will she be ready to face it if it does?”
Imogen and Vincent have a seemingly perfect marriage; Vincent takes care of her and treats her like a princess. It is well known that Imogen is scatty, forgetful and generally hopeless at taking care of herself, so when she disappears her friends worry that something might have happened to her.
Imogen has a plan. She has been working on the plan for a long time, and when the opportunity to go to Paris with work arises she leaps at the chance. She attempts to lose herself in France, with the intention of rediscovering the person she used to be, an Imogen who maybe isn’t so hopeless after all.
I really loved this book; the novel switches between Imogen and Vincent perspectives, so you get really drawn in as Vince gets closer to finding Imogen.
The part of the novel that really struck me, was the sensitive and accurate way it portrayed domestic abuse. There are many ways to hurt your loved ones, and physical violence is only one of them; I feel a Georgette Heyer quote is apt here:
“There is a worse tyranny than that of ill-treatment. It is the tyranny of tears, vapours, appeals to feelings of affection and of gratitude!”
Apart from the obvious “she’s a wife and she’s missing” part, I don’t really feel this is like Gone Girl at all, so if you’re looking for that you might be disappointed.
If you want to read a charming, well written, sensitive book about a strong woman escaping from domestic abuse, then you will love this book. It’s touching and often funny – I’m probably making it sound really depressing, but it’s not at all!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.