Thursday 8 May 2014

Review: Every Woman For Herself by Trisha Ashley

Charlotte—Charlie—Rhymer’s husband wants a divorce. Charlie isn’t sure what she wants, but after the incident with the frying pan, even she has to concede that their differences may be irreconcilable after all. Returning home to her native Yorkshire and the bosom of her family seemed like a good idea at the time. Even if Charlie’s father has never quite forgiven Charlie or her siblings (Anne, Emily and Branwell) for failing to live up to their more literary (as in Bronte) namesakes.

Upvale Parsonage, the family home to which Charlie has retreated, is presided over by her sister Em. Em’s hobbies are composing inspirational verses, dabbling in the Ancient Black Arts, and fighting off the incursions of Father’s latest mistress. When the current mistress actually moves in, family loyalties are sorely tried. Still, Charlie is determined to bounce back from disaster and strike a blow for deserted older wives everywhere. But when she meets brooding actor Mace North, she realizes that when it comes to dating for the over-forty crowd, female solidarity be damned—it’s every woman for herself!

I have to come right out and say that this would not rank as one of my favourite Trisha Ashley books, nor anywhere near the top of the list. The characters and situations are strange,  at times bizarre, making it difficult to follow what is going on in places. I found  the first half of the story heavy going, but it got better towards the end, or maybe I just became accustomed to the cast. I would not be surprised to find that many people would have begun to read the story but never finished it.   This is actually an early example of Trisha Ashley's work, which could explain why it is not, in my view, the best.

The main character, Charlie (short for Charlotte),is one of a family of four children of an eccentric father who has decided that they should each bear the name of one of the Brontes and that they must live in a parsonage, although in reality it has never even seen a parson. She has to return to the family home, deep in the wilds of Yorkshire, when her husband suddenly announces that he is divorcing her. There are some comic episodes in the story, but I found quite a lot of the time I was very worried for Charlie and what would become of her.  She has a tough time dealing with her husband's behaviour and being plunged into a world where she has to fit back into her strange family and try to make a living from painting. The story improved somewhat for me with the arrival of an actor, Mace, and his young daughter to the village. He has his own problems with an estranged wife, but brings a bit of normality to the situation.

I would say that this is an entertaining tale overall, but is quite difficult to get into, although your perseverance is rewarded by a satisfactory conclusion .

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