The Mistress's Revenge - Tamar Cohen "You cannot block someone from your life who doesn't want to be blocked"

Sally Islip and Clive Gooding have had an affair for five years. But when Clive suddenly decides to reunite with his wife, Susan, and children, Sally becomes unhinged. She begins to meet up with Susan, and to hound Susan's Facebook page. What happens when a scorned lover wants desperately to get back together with her married ex?

This was an intense book. I started reading it on the plane and found myself quickly immersed in Sally's warped world. And then, the ending! Gah! I think I read nonstop for the last 50 pages!

Sally Islip is our viewpoint character, our protagonist. She has been dumped, but can't get over Clive. It was shocking how much I felt myself at time empathizing her. For anyone who has been through a breakup, the feelings she has are easily relatable (even if she does not deal with them in a healthy fashion). It was scary, how in her life and her relationship with Clive, I found my own life mirrored--not perfectly, mind you (I never drugged myself to death or refused to get over someone for 5 months), but still it resonated within me.

Sally is a perfect example of obsessive love (Meyer, read this, compare to Bella, and you may want to change a few things about the "Eternal Love" that Edward and Bella supposedly have). She cannot move on. She cannot give up Clive. She cannot enjoy and love her own children and partner. Instead, she desires so badly to be with Clive, any part of Clive, that she will stalk Susan and his children, Liam and Emily (if not in the traditional sense, then definitely online, as she is constantly on their Facebook pages). It's creepy, it's dark, it's scary, but ultimately, it is realistic and gritty, and in no way does the reader get the impression that A) Sally is anything but unhinged and B) Sally is dealing with this loss in a good way.

While the other characters are secondary, they garnered my support in a myriad of ways. I felt bad for poor Daniel, for Jamie and Tilly, for Susan (very much for Susan--staying with such a philanderer!), for Emily (the things Sally says about the poor girl!), for Sian. Clive, I felt was a d-bag, and I believe he totally deserved what he got. He was such a cheat, such a horrible man. The nerve, cheating on his wife for all these years!

The story itself is an intense character study. While at times it seemed to go nowhere, and I often wondered when the so-called "Mistress's Revenge" would take place, it was, to be cliched, like watching a train wreck: you know something bad is coming, but you can't tear your eyes away. And the conclusion was powerful, well done. Definitely one of the better "And X time later" epilogues.

Plus, Cohen was an adept writer. I can't pin down the precise person she used in writing (almost a combination of first person and the very rare second person), but I am floored at how well she used this form, how intense and personal it was. This is definitely an author I will be watching out for--I would definitely like to see what else she can come up with.

So, all these compliments...why the three stars? Well, firstly, I am trying to be stricter with my ratings. Secondly, this would probably get a 3.5 stars, but I have to pick whole stars. Thirdly, there were a few things that just perturbed me. I mentioned the sometimes meandering pace. There is a bit of language and sexuality (no brainer--It's an adultery tale, after all!). The back of the book almost made it sound like more hijinks or somesuch would ensue, that it wouldn't be so dark and gritty (could be my interpretation, however). I guess the biggest reason is that this isn't a book I see being read more than once. It's good, the characters are well done, but generally, unlikable. Sally totally destroyed her own life and those of the ones she supposedly loves. Clive is a chronic cheater. And while both get just desserts in the end, this still doesn't make a book I'd like to cuddle up next to some time in the future.

Final words? If you see this book, don't be afraid to pick it up, particularly if you like dark, gritty dramas. It's well-written and engaging. Just don't be surprised if this book doesn't make the To-Re-Read pile.