Number of pages: 416
This is another book that I'd been planning to read for some time, being familiar with Ruth Jones' screenwriting and acting on Gavin and Stacey.
The book starts in 1985, with its main character, Kate, embarking on an affair with her older colleague Callum. Cutting to 2002, Kate first appears speaking to a therapist, but moments later the narrative reveals that Kate is now an actress, and this is part of the drama that she is filming.
Kate is now married to a man called Matt, but she is suddenly called to do a talk at her old school. Arriving at the school, she discovers that Callum is now working there, and a series of events results in a one-night stand with Callum. After this, Kate becomes obsessed with him, and decides she has to have another affair with him.
I found Kate to be an increasingly difficult character to like, because of her increasingly selfish and reprehenisble behaviour; she put me in mind of Becky Sharp, the self-serving anti-heroine of Vanity Fair. Callum is married to a woman called Belinda, and an extended flashback tells of how Belinda caught them in their affair back in 1985, and how she almost divorced him at the time. The flashback also has a brief encounter between Kate and Matt, back when he was a student.
I enjoyed this book, a lot, and the characters were all well-written, and described in vivid detail, including Matt's friend Hetty, who in a narrative sub-plot becomes obsessed with a man called Adam, despite him having been generally nasty to him at university.
One of the good things about this book was that I couldn't always see where it was heading; while for the most part, it was a study in how devastating adultery can be, and how many people it affected, but it also played with my expectations a lot, and felt more realistic, particularly with a plot twist near the end that came out of nowhere. Although this was mostly a dramatic book, there was some comic relief, mostly caused by Hetty, and I could tell this was by one of the writers of Gavin and Stacey. Ruth Jones has a book coming out hopefully in the Autumn called Us Three, which I also hope to read.
Next book: The Coffin Dancer (Jeffrey Deaver)