My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Free digital ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for honest review
Expected publication date: 01 Jul 2017
Heat level: None
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The Wives' Revenge by Lindsey Hutchinson is the story of the Wednesbury Wives, a group of friends living in a poverty-stricken English village in 1884. This small group is an informal mafia of sorts who can be counted on by the other women of the village to help in situations that the police of that time usually ignored, such as a husband beating his wife. The book spans many years, from the time Violet, the daughter of one of the Wives, was in elementary school until well into her adult years.
I don't know the official term used in the publishing world for this type of book, but I would call it a slice-of-life novel or perhaps a family saga. It doesn't focus on one big problem that needs to be resolved. Instead, there is a series of anecdotes in chronological order that show how the Wednesbury Wives gain power and respect over time. It has a rhythm of showing the reader a problem, telling the reader how the Wives solved the problem, then moving on to the next problem.
Hutchinson's writing style was troublesome for me at first because I didn't feel like I was there with the characters; it was like someone describing a movie to you instead of you watching the movie yourself. Somewhere around the 30% mark, however, the story became more engaging. I believe the inclusion of more dialogue was the key. I would rather read what the characters actually said than to have the narrative text just tell me that they talked.
While some of the topics that this book touches on (rape, wife beating, abortion, poverty) are pretty serious, there is a simplicity to it that may or may not appeal to certain readers. There wasn't much to set the Wives apart from each other except for their names; the dialogue made them sound almost interchangeable. The ease with which they came up with a solution for every problem may strike some readers as unrealistic. I was able to accept all of that, but there were certain punishments the Wives administered that I had trouble overlooking.
Despite the flaws I mentioned, this wasn't too bad for a weekend read. If you want to indulge in some escapism that doesn't involve magic or superheroes yet the bad guys still get their comeuppance, you may want to give this a try.