Friday, August 8, 2014

GUEST REVIEW: The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen

The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Source: Book Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it at: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
Reviewer: Doris CedeƱo aka La Chiquita

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

There’s a fine line between love and hate.

For five years, Sally and Clive have been lost in a passionate affair. Now he has dumped her to devote himself to his wife and family, and Sally is left in freefall.

It starts with a casual stroll past his house, and popping into the brasserie where his son works. Then Sally starts following Clive’s wife and daughter on Facebook. But that’s alright, isn’t it? These are perfectly normal things to do. Aren’t they?

Not since “Fatal Attraction” has the fallout from an illicit affair been exposed in such a sharp, darkly funny, and disturbing way: “The Mistress’s Revenge” is a truly exciting fiction debut. After all, who doesn’t know an otherwise sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken?

Buckle in this one will take you some place ugly and scary and you will freely fall into all its depressed darkness. Tamar Cohen really explores the depth of the woman scorned but this time only from the woman’s diluted point of view. How would you feel if the man you have been allowing to flood your mind with happiness for the past five years suddenly grows a back bone and tells you, rather recklessly, that it all  needs to stop could turkey? Does “loose it” and “kill him” run through your mind? Well, you are not alone.
The story itself is unique as it does not follow your standard of structure in novels. Chapter separations or sections split up by dates. By doing this it allows us the ability to swim in the misery with her. Slowing remembering your own past breakups and the versions of you that were before the you that is. As readers we are addressed as her ex-lover Clive Gooding.  Needless to say Sally Islip, our main character and the narrator, is not ready to let go just yet.
You know, I can forgive the fact I begged you to warn me in advance if you were dumping me and you still let me turn up at that restaurant on York Way Friday with a jaunty impatience and un-washed hair and only my second-best jeans. I can forgive the way you told me it was over before I’d even taken off my coat and then somehow expected we’d find a way of filling the next three tortuous hours, me with my arm still halfway in my sleeve. I can forgive that awful, excruciating, pain-ridden lunch while the waitress hovered uncertainly around the uneaten food, a smile stretching her face as if it might snap, and I tried not to meet anyone’s eye. I can even forgive you asking for a receipt (even good-byes it seems are tax deductible). But what I can’t forgive is the way you scurried off so gratefully when we got outside and I told you to go. You were halfway down York Way, your laptop bag bouncing insistently against your back, before I realized you really were going to leave me there crying in the rain. Pg14  
We have all been there haven’t we? Whether it was years ago or just last week, the evil feeling of being less than or losing something you felt a comfort with is devastating. Depending on the level of the investment even maddening, so is it so farfetched that Sally refuses to let go?
Throughout the story Sally enters little side notes meant to pacify the judgment of Clive. The journal entries feel more like letters to him rather than reflections of what she has gone through. This gives a bit of voyeuristic pleasure to the book. You get to brew in the danger of a heart break from the safe distance of the pages. And yet you can’t help have those “No, please don’t” feelings and that “oh no” regret after she does exactly what you want to warn her of.
She is far from innocent though. I don’t want you to think this novel is purely the brooding of a woman left to glue herself back together after being shattered into needle point pieces. This is so not the case. Sally Islip is a force to be reckoned with. Her love for the life she could, or in her words, should have pole volts her into situations that she innocently feels are harmless, though to us, are true bold stabs at the life Clive so desperately wants to keep safe.
Another aspect that we don’t see in our own misery during a breakup is the effect our emotions have on those we love. We are told of a family that once was normal and though timid in temperature was pure and whole. We see Sally push her husband Daniel, children Jaime and Tilly away to the point she blames her daughter’s distaste with her on her daughter’s entering that ever so loved stage of being a teenager.
“Why is your neck like that?” she wanted to know.
“Like what?”
“You know, like the top of the curtains.”
Ah, pleated. My daughter wants to know why the skin on my neck is pleated.
I look at myself in the mirror and see what she sees –a too-thing fourty-three-year-old whose skin no longer fits wearing a top that drapes over me like one of those frilly round cloths on what my grandmother used to call “occasional table.” Pg.69

This roller coaster ride of emotion is worth reading. If not to watch the train wreck of our dear Sillee Sallee, but to watch the vindication that her beloved Clive gets when his own world is turned upside down. Sally makes sure that all those promises, romantic whispers, and long nights of being the other woman are paid in full by Clive and then some. 

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