Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: A Crowded Marriage by Catherine Alliott

Things have been a bit "radio silence" for me over the past several weeks.  Although I've been online off and on, both finals for my online classes and a nasty head cold this last week kept me tied up.  Thankfully, the Royal Wedding was a relaxing diversion from all the other things going on.  Yes, I was a bit obsessive about it, but it was such a nice, positive event to get to view!

In the meantime, I'm horribly behind on book reviews and need to get posting! One of the books I recently finished was A Crowded Marriage by Catherine Alliott, which just came out today as a republish here in the U.S.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "There are three people in Imogen Cameron’s marriage – herself, her husband, Alex, and their son, Rufus – and that’s just the way she likes it. But that’s about to change...

When the Camerons hit dire financial straits they’re forced to leave London and accept Eleanor Latimer’s offer of a rent-free cottage on her country estate. Ordinarily, such an offer is not to be sniffed at but, as Eleanor happens to be Alex’s beautiful, rich and frankly flirtatious ex, Imogen is very sniffy indeed.

And with good reason. Once installed in Shepherd’s Cottage, Imogen’s life is suddenly full to bursting with surly locals, psychotic chickens, a maddening (if handsome) headmaster, mountains of manure, visits from the infuriatingly bossy vet, and Eleanor, who seems to be glued to Alex’s side.

As far as Imogen’s concerned, two’s a marriage, three’s a family and this...well, this is just silly, someone’s going to have to go. The question is who?"

Review:  I have to admit that the story started off pretty slowly.  In fact, in the first 150 pages I wondered if I'd be able to finish it.  I didn't feel very connected to Eleanor, with her strangely muted relationship with her husband.  Was this a cultural gap that I'd missed, or was Eleanor's relationship truly of a different sort?  Her husband seemed a lot older to me, aloof, and just not engaged in marriage to begin with.  He seemed as though he liked everyone else around him, but his wife, except at random "playing house" moments.  Odd.  Honestly, I wanted her out of that marriage from the get go!

Once we get past the background stories we need to move forward, the story really gets going and the tension in Eleanor's marriage and relationships take on new meaning.  Although you start to feel you know where the story is heading, it doesn't all play out exactly as you might think.  We can't help but hate the husband's best friend, as she seems way too involved in their marriage.  Yes, you realize the marriage is falling apart, and yes, you hope that people get what's coming to them.  The surprising bit is how everyone reacts, and how things fit together.  In that way, the last 100 pages were pretty difficult for me to put down. (Although, maybe it was the hot, yet slightly grouchy veterinarian that captured my attention?)

On the whole, I really did like this book.  It was hard getting the groundwork set, but once I could clearly see the connections between our characters, the story snapped into place and I cared about what would happen.  Subtle humor is applied in spots, with crazy misadventures that didn't seem as funny as they might have been (considering the topic), but overall it rang true to me.  This book is a great getaway book for a vacation, with plenty of drama and relationships to consider.

*FTC Disclosure:  Review was based on an advanced copy provided by Sourcebooks.


  1. Psychotic chickens? Sounds wild. :D

  2. Nice review. It sounds like a worthwhile book. Very cute cover.

  3. I'm not sure I can handle a book about a marriage falling apart. But who can resist grumpy veterinarians? It's like Dr. House but without the human patients.

  4. I love the cover of this one! Sounds like a good vacation book!

  5. Barbara--Yea, those chickens were mainly psychotic from her perspective. :) It was an interesting, but fun read.

    Andrea--Thanks! It is a pretty cute cover. It's a little bit more mellow along the way than it might indicate, but still ended up a good read.

    Heidenkind--I liked the tension. The husband, not so much, but loved the ending! :)

    Meg--This is definitely a great vacation book. That ending really pulls it all together.