Book Reviews

Review: Who Needs Men Anyway by Victoria Cooke

Following on from Jessica’s review yesterday, I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Cooke’s wonderful novel, Who Needs Men Anyway, to the blog today as part of her blog tour.

The premise:

Don’t get mad, get even…

Thirty-something Charlotte’s Emsworth’s life is a sickeningly perfect round of charity events, hot yoga, and romantic gestures for sexy lawyer husband James. But, patiently waiting to get pregnant, Charlotte is bored. And when she’s bored, she has a tendency to meddle…

First, it’s her personal trainer Megan’s cheating fiancé, then the gardener Sam’s wife’s ‘late nights at the office’. But soon the meddling, however well-intentioned, lands Charlotte in way over her head, and all the time spent ‘managing’ other people’s lives makes her blind to the cracks appearing in her own…

Getting even is one thing, but what about getting happy?

I was initially attracted to this novel due to the title; who hasn’t been messed around by men at some point? But being chick-lit, I knew that a Happy Ever After would be delivered and I wasn’t disappointed.

You’d think that Charlotte already had her Happy Ever After, being married to a gorgeous, wealthy man and all, but the novel scrapes away the surface perfection to reveal the cracks in her marriage.

I have to confess, the beginning of the story was a little slow as the stage was set and there were blow-by-blow accounts of several days in a row and I did start to tune out a little.

But then it got good.

Really good.

Victoria hit her writing stride as the story took off and there were fantastic, pithy, observational one-liners about life that engender feelings of mutual experience in the reader. It didn’t matter that Charlotte was a wealthy housewife (something that I only dream of); she still experienced a range of emotions familiar to women rich or poor. And we’ve all had that time when life is going really well, some dreams are coming true, you’re really happy and then it suddenly all goes tits-up and you’re mopping up the aftermath for months. Charlotte’s suddenly lost her ability to control every aspect of her life and goes on a rollercoaster emotional journey – and what a ride! Not enough books trumpet the importance of a group of female friends but this one really goes to town and it’s very heart-warming.

The supporting characters were well-drawn and colourful; I very much enjoyed Charlotte’s friend, Kate, who said exactly what she thought and to hell with any consequences. I really liked that the novel was set ‘oop north’ as the setting was fresh and different to the usual London-centric trope. Also refreshing was Charlotte’s age and longing for a baby; something most women can relate to. Even though the plot was a little predictable, I still thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

After what her husband, James, put her through, the desire for revenge would’ve been irresistible. And it would’ve been easy for it to have been something cooked up in the heat of anger and humiliation but Charlotte surprised me with her cool-headedness, going in deep to where it would hurt James the most. Her vengeance was simply delicious and I savoured every moment.

Victoria was a new author for me and I will definitely be looking out for more of her books.

Please do visit The Writing Garnet tomorrow for Kaisha’s review.

©Eleanor Small

Twitter: @eleanorsauthor

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