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The Other Half: A Novel Paperback – March 25, 2014
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Chloe Appleton is a 29-year-old, commitment-phobic, ambitious magazine writer. When she pitches a new kind of magazine for British women to her publisher, she finds that James Slater is interested in more than just her layouts. And that he’s married. His wife, Maggie, is a well-respected food writer but feels stifled as a suburban housewife. It doesn’t help that James is staying at work late and is not interested in trying to have a second baby. The narrative switches back and forth between the women—Chloe as she begins an affair with James and quickly falls in love, Maggie as she struggles with her family life and seeks the support of her best friend, Jean, who is also Chloe’s boss. Despite the high drama of the plot, the emotional stakes are not very high. Chloe doesn’t feel bad for enabling a cheater, nor does she really consider that he might not want to divorce his wife. Maggie, at least, shakes off her inner doormat. Things wrap up quite neatly in this breezy, very British novel that straddles the line between chick lit and women’s fiction. --Susan Maguire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Rayner plays it just right in the war zone of love...an engaging, insightful portrait of infidelity, told with charm.” ―Kirkus reviews on The Other Half
“As both women turn to their friends and families for support, Rayner delves deeply into their emotional journeys to bring readers a touching and thought-provoking story that redefines the meaning of family.” ―Booklist on The Two Week Wait
“Tender . . . ultimately irresistible.” ―Marie Claire on One Moment, One Morning
“This story is as much about relationships, hope and second chances as it is about death and loss. Its most valuable lesson of all is that each of us has only one life to live.” ―Booklist on One Moment, One Morning
“Insightful, fresh . . . Rayner sets up a tricky emotional minefield for these vulnerable women, but deftly guides them to a place of power and truth.” ―Publishers Weekly on One Moment, One Morning
“Rayner's delicate, compassionate exploration of the struggles women face with fertility will resonate loud and clear with anyone struggling to have a family. To her credit, Rayner resists the easy happy ending. While that may be more painful to read, it's also more honest.” ―Publishers Weekly on The Two Week Wait
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St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 25 2014, $15.99
In London, twenty-nine years old Chloe Appleton wants to start her own magazine before she turns thirty, but at the speed she is aging the writer knows time is running out on her. Publisher James Slater agrees to listen to Chloe's pitch re beginning a new magazine targeting British women.
Chloe and James enjoy their friendly dinner-meeting, but become intoxicated and sleep together. They begin an affair in spite of the fact he is married to food writer Maggie and has a six year old son Nathan living in the burbs. When his transgression becomes known; James must choose between his mistress and his wife, but finds he cannot make up his mind.
The storyline rotates between the two women connected obviously by James but also by Chloe's former boss who is Maggie's BFF. The cast is solid especially the lead women; as the mistress keeps her head in the sand refusing to accept any culpability re her lover cheating or believe he will not end his marriage for her; and the bored wife comes across hurt but forcing the issue of choice. Neither female protagonist is treated with disdain, but the storyline lacks intense passion due in part because James is a wimpy (except for his noodle) loser and the climax too sweetly resolved.
Maggie Slater, wife to James or Jamie as she calls him. Maggie is tall, blonde, classic and understated. Maggie is reserved and controlled. She also manipulates and controls Jamie in every way she can. Maggie is thirty-nine and wants another child. She refuses to acknowledge that Jamie doesn't share that desire. Jamie, though he adores him now, wasn't thrilled when Maggie became pregnant with their son Nathan so she's confident he'll come around. After all, she's created the perfect life for them, hasn't she?
Chloe Appleton, mistress of James, never calls him Jamie. Chloe is petite, has dark curly/wavy hair, and a voluptuous hourglass figure. Her wardrobe leans toward flaunt it. She's vivacious, ambitious, and ten years younger than Maggie. Chloe meets James when she pitches her idea for a new magazine to him. She knows James is married but can't stop herself from yielding to their amazing sexual chemisty. Chloe is often reckless and guided by her emotions.
Jean is Maggie's best friend and Chloe's boss. Your quintessential career woman, Jean adores her friends' children but wants none of her own. She's blunt, driven, and honest.
Rob is Chloe's gay best friend. They've shared an apartment and their lives for years. Rob is a good friend to Chloe and tells her the truth even when she doesn't want to hear it.
Alex is Maggie's ex. He's recently divorced and has maintained a friendship with Maggie and James. Alex obviously still loves and wants Maggie any way he can have her.
Beth is James' ex. We never meet her but Chloe's resemblance to her is a driving force.
James is a publisher at UK Magazines; big shot successful businessman. James is mostly seen through his interactions with Maggie and Chloe, through their eyes. Each woman satisfies a different need for James and he doesn't want to let either go.
From London to New York James and Chloe live large while Maggie and Nathan are tucked away in the village of Shere. Maggie does freelance work, occasionally but not often traveling into the city. Feeling restless, fighting dissatisfaction and an inner niggling Maggie yearns to break out of the predictable box she's fallen into. Maggie's decision to return to her journalistic roots puts her on a collision course with Chloe.
THE OTHER HALF will put you through your paces emotionally especially if you, personally, have ever been part of the infidelity equation.
Each character is depicted realistically, warts and all. No one is skewed to be the "bad guy" or shoulder the bulk of the blame. Ms. Rayner allows the reader to decide whom they wish to side with, if any of them. I found this approach refreshing because so many are written with a slight bias toward one or another. The characters and situation are complex and messy. In all honesty I didn't care much for Chloe, Maggie, or James.
I really liked Jean; she was both a good friend and, all considered, professional as she had to work with both James and Chloe. I also liked Rob. He was brutally honest with Chloe while standing ready to pick up the pieces if need be, a true friend.
At the end of the day Chloe deserved kudos for being the most honest player in this tawdry game; Maggie not so much. As for James, I was hard pressed to see what, once you got past his good looks and surface charm, appealed to Maggie and Chloe.
THE OTHER HALF, it's real and we can't help but be drawn to it, like rubbernecking at an accident. Do we read theses stories because we're compelled by a visceral desire to experience all the thrill and danger of an affair without the consequences? So we can feel morally superior? To develop a better understanding of the root causes for affairs? Or is it just because they make for deeply emotional, sexually exciting, roller coaster reads?
Whatever the reason THE OTHER HALF is an absorbing, thoroughly enjoyable read.
Reviewed by IvyD for Miss Ivy's Book Nook & Manic Readers
Sarah Rayner confronts that issue to some degree in her story, introducing you to Maggie (the wife) and Chloe (the mistress).
Maggie and Jamie's marriage is staid and comfortable. Parents to a seven-year-old son, they live in the English countryside, from which Jamie commutes to his London job as a magazine publisher. Perhaps the spark is missing, but it isn't as if Maggie doesn't try. She purchases lacy lingerie and whips up foods full of aphrodisiacs. A freelance journalist and writer, she wants to be exciting to her husband; she also wants another child, and she can be a bit flinty and unyielding.
Ten years younger than Maggie, Chloe is nearing thirty and still single. She questions women whom she believes "conveniently" get pregnant when they are in their early thirties, effectively trapping the man into marriage and fatherhood. She's curvaceous and luscious, "all woman" as Jamie observes. She enjoys sex and is an adventurous lover. Sure, she's a little lonely and would like a relationship and kids (someday), but she's also ripe with sexual promise. Jamie recognizes this immediately and is drawn to her.
What begins as the quenching of sexual need becomes more, for both Chloe and Jamie. They talk. They get to know each other. It's a real courtship, shared by two people actively looking for a connection in and out of bed. Jamie wants to be understood and desired, but not in the way Maggie understands and desires him. He wants more. He wants passion and sexual intimacy, if not quite the emotional variety. Chloe is viscerally drawn to him; her body's response to him is almost feral.
But what of Maggie? She wants another child; Jamie does not. What does that mean for her? For him? For the two of them? And what does it mean that her husband prefers another woman?
One thing Rayner does quite effectively is refuse to take sides. Maggie is not terribly likable. She is demanding, almost shrewish, and likes to control her husband. She occasionally resorts to silly gamesmanship when it comes to disarming him with the appearance of a former lover of hers. She wants another child, but she refuses to listen to his reasons for not having one. She's also nearing forty and all of that number's attendant insecurities. She seeks value in her husband's desire for her, motherhood, and her professional success.
Chloe, on the other hand, is immature, flighty, and hedonistic. For all of her success in magazine publishing, she is an utter disaster personally. She knows that Jamie is married, yet she offers only tame objection to a relationship with him. To her credit, she does think about Maggie and Jamie's son. She wonders how she would feel. But Jamie is like a drug to her. She can't get enough. And despite knowing that she shouldn't - that she really should not - she imagines a future with him. She allows herself to love him.
We do not get in Jamie's head; all we know of him is what his wife and lover tell us about him. Because he is in both of their stories, he emerges as a bit unsavory and a lot selfish. Even so, when he tells us about his relationship with Maggie, we understand him better. He isn't a bad guy so much as a weak one.
I spent the better part of the book wondering who Jamie would choose, even as I knew that there could be no happy ending. Someone was going to get terribly hurt, whether Maggie or Chloe; far more likely, both would. Rayner writes in a way that keeps you turning the pages, even when you don't particularly like her characters.
Infidelity is an evil element, a bomb that leaves devastation for all concerned. But sometimes it also opens doors that you never knew existed.
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Most recent customer reviews
Also I disliked the moral judgement about Chloe, I found it sexist. Chloe was single, the fault was not hers.Read more
Sexual Content Rating: Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: None
I found Sarah Rayner to write very...Read more