Book Review: The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman

The Replacement Wife

The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Publisher: AUS Impulse
Buy: Kindle
Rating:
5 star

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Luisa has met the love of her life … now she just needs to figure out what to do with her husband.
Luisa has fallen madly in love with sculptor Jarvis, so she comes up with a plan to find a new wife for her husband Luke so she can exit stage left. She wants to screen potential stepmothers for her 8-year-old son Max and has strict criteria: the woman must be a single mother; have no more than two children; she can’t be authoritarian; she must be creative, nurturing and not much prettier than Luisa.
After a few carefully orchestrated meetings with different women that fail to raise a spark, Luke finally connects with a potential replacement wife. However, Luisa isn’t prepared for the fact that Luke’s interest in the other woman makes him a better man and a more attractive husband. After suffering for years in a half-dead marriage, Luisa starts to remember what it was about Luke that she originally fell in love with. But is it too late?

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Luisa is growing increasingly unhappy with her current situation. She finds herself in a marriage which has quickly turned stale and is tired of the mundane direction her life seems to be taking. She loves her son Max more than anything else in the world but she doesn’t realise exactly how unhappy she is until she bumps into someone from her past. Jarvis is a sculptor and whilst the pair initially become reaquainted on a professional basis, Luisa quickly finds herself falling for Jarvis…And hard. Jarvis feels the same, however there’s just one problem – the tiny inconvenience that Luisa is already married to Luke.
However, Luisa is not one to let the small matter of her husband stop her from finding true happiness as she concocts the craziest most unbelievable plan you’ve ever heard of. She is going to find a ‘replacement’ wife for Luke – someone who he can fall passionately in love with himself, therefore leading the the pair to both want out of their marriage, to split amicably and no one will be to blame. There’s also the fact that this women will be Max’s stepmother, which means she has to be pretty much perfect. Luisa isn’t willing to let just any woman help raise her child.
Luisa quickly gets to work on lining up a series of potential suitors for her husband. It’s the perfect plan – there’s no way it can fail. Right…?

I was truly intrigued by the synopsis of The Replacement Wife. It sounded like no other novel I had ever read before and I couldn’t wait to see how things were going to play out. My initial thoughts were that Luisa must be crazy – how can anyone actually make it their mission to find a suitable lover for their own husband!? However, whilst this is a completely off-the-wall plan, once you become submerged in the story you can kind of see why Luisa felt as though she needed to do what she did, although as time progresses she starts to become slightly deluded. There were moments when I was reading with my hands covering my face, wanting to scream “No. No. NO.” It’s a smart plan that she concocts, I’ll give her that but it’s sadly flawed in so many ways.
Luisa works as an editor and sees herself as a creative person, hence why she falls so hard for Jarvis who is a sculptor and also hugely creative. He sends her poetry, romantic emails, slushy prose, the works and Luisa, being bored with her domesticated life, is immediately enchanted.

My initial thoughts about The Replacement Wife proved to be completely wrong. I thought this would be a laugh-a-minute, lighthearted tale and whilst there certainly were plenty of giggles along the way, it’s actually quite a serious, sobering and thought-provoking story. It’s not the kind of story where you take sides with certain characters either. I couldn’t dislike Luisa for embarking on an emotional affair with Jarvis (and it was purely emotional) She just wanted to feel wanted and was missing passion from her life, which she believes Jarvis would be able to supply in abundance. She is constantly indecisive about her situation, one minute deciding to stick with what she has and realising that it would never work with Jarvis, to the next falling under his spell once again and convincing herself that her plan needs to succeed so she can start living her life. However, you just know that the life Luisa is conjuring up is more similar to the pages of a soppy romance novel rather than real life…

There is so much depth to this book and it’s really quite a bittersweet story, especially with the way that things turn out. Rowena has created a honest and fascinating narrator in Luisa. She is honest with the reader and straight-to-the-point, enabling the story to move a quick pace which makes it one of those novels you’ll start and not really be able to put down. You’ll be desperate to find out how things are going to turn out.
I loved how when Luisa was trying to find out potential love-interests for her husband (Woah, it felt weird typing that…) it was almost like SHE was dating them herself, and when they weren’t falling for Luke it was as though Luisa herself has been rejected. It’s difficult to get your head around but the parallels work so well.
If you’re into your happy-ever-after romances then The Replacement Wife will prove to be something different. So many themes are explored within its pages and it’s a clever, quirky novel. Don’t let the light-hearted cover and blurb fool you, because ultimately it’s a painfully real read with flawed characters and plenty of heartbreak. I can understand why some readers might not get what they were expecting with this novel, but I feel as though I ended up getting so much more from The Replacement Wife.

I’m really impressed with what Rowena Wiseman has created with this novel and I liked how what I thought was going to be a fluffy, funny romance actually turned into quite an unsettling story. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of laughs within these pages if that’s what you’re looking for and if you’re looking for something just that little bit different then I’d highly recommend giving this book a go.

A huge thank you to publisher AUS Impulse for approving me on NetGalley to read The Replacement Wife.

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Rowena WisemanRowena Wiseman writes contemporary fiction and children’s stories. Her fiction includes The Replacement Wife (HarperCollins, 2015), Bequest (Tenebris Books, 2014) and Searching for Von Honningsbergs (Leafless, 2014). Children’s stories include the Aunty Arty and Astro Circus Kids series (Jet Black Publishing, 2014/2015). She was recently named as one of the 30 most influential writers on Wattpad. Rowena’s blog Out of Print Writing, about writing and publishing in the digital revolution, has been selected for the National Library of Australia’s archive program PANDORAhttp://www.outofprintwriting.blogspot…. She works in the visual arts sector and lives on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia.

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