The Mistress’s Revenge (Tamar Cohen)
Well, this was certainly a disturbing read! I felt like I’d fallen down the rabbit hole and was watching with sick fascination while the Mad Hatter quietly went even madder. I got this book as an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. It sounded like an interesting story, and it certainly was that!
I love how the author tells this story: as a series of journal entries to her former lover. It was another thing I hadn’t expected about this book. (Why did I think it might even remotely be a romance? I have no idea, unless it was the roses on the cover.) The journal entries detail Sally’s slow descent into her personal hell of depression and anxiety; by the end, you believe she’s capable of doing anything except functioning normally, so abnormal behavior actually becomes normal. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to slap her.
The reason I didn’t give this book the highest rating is because I couldn’t find much sympathy in my heart for Sally and her obvious idiocy about this affair and its end. She’s not married, but has had a long-term relationship with a man. They have children, so she might as well be married. She has an affair with a married man and not just any married man – she and her partner have known and been friends with the other couple for many years. As I read this, I kept thinking surely she was smart enough to know she’d have to keep up the appearance of friendship with this couple, surely she knew that if he kept the promises he had made to her that both their families would be hurt – and if he didn’t, she would be hurt. The only thing that saved her, in my opinion, was my belief that she’s not all THAT unusual among women who have affairs with married men. I’ve known a couple of them and they seem willing to suspend all common sense in order to buy the fantasy spun by the affair and the cheating lover. I’m not all that sympathetic towards them, either, but I do find their willful blindness fascinating, as I found Sally’s fascinating.
It’s a well-told story with a very unexpected twist at the end. Just when I thought I had Sally figured out, she surprised me. Don’t expect a comedy – it’s pretty dark and sometimes painful, but that’s why traffic slows on the freeway when there’s an accident. The wreck of Sally’s affair had me turning the pages in fascinated horror.