The Missing Wife by Sheila O'Flanagan

As an Archers' fan, I wasn't too sure about reading The Missing Wife, when I realised that it was all about a controlling husband who had isolated his wife from her friends and family. To digress completely, The Archers is a long running BBC radio 'Contemporary Drama in a rural setting' as they put it or to anyone else, a soap. For three years a controlling relationship has been played out in agonising, real time with a long awaited trial due to start on 4th Sept. Listening has not been easy. Anyway.... sorry to wander off from this book. Just let me say that if Rob Titchenor isn't unmasked as the violent brute he really is very soon, a metaphorical radio will be winging its way out of a metaphorical window. I do apologise.

    Back to the book review- I did persevere with The Missing Wife and thoroughly enjoyed it. On the surface, Imogen has a happy marriage to Vince but we realise very soon that this is a facade and that she has been planning to leave him, as he is controlling and manipulative. His behaviour has chipped away at her self-esteem as she has tried to keep the peace and mollify him. Her only option seems to be to disappear completely for a time and after two years of careful planning, that is what she does. In fact she goes back to a French village where she lived as a child and which she left after what she calls her mother's 'indiscretion'. You come to see the far reaching effects the choices her mother made has had on Imogen's life and how she has always felt that other people's decisions have had a direct consequence on her life against her wishes. We follow Imogen as she puts down new roots and meets people from her past as well as forging new friendships. Meanwhile, Vince is looking for her...
   
    The story is told from two perspectives. Imogen is the principal narrator but we also have Vince's viewpoint as he tries to make sense of where Imogen has gone to. The story is a mixture of suspense and romance as Imogen goes on a journey of self - discovery. This is a book which you tend to read through quickly and the pace does not flag. The picture painted of the South of France is warm and inviting and the palette of people who she meets there, well drawn and believable.

In short: an escapist read.

Thanks to the publishers at Headline for a copy of the book via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

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