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Crescent Blues Book ViewsWilliam Morrow (Hardcover), ISBN 0060512385

Lynn Bartlett, second wife and successful immigration attorney, finds her life unraveling around her as she approaches middle age. Hateful adult stepchildren, a business partner's unethical practices and a startling attraction to a client conspire against her carefully constructed life with her husband Jack.

Book: catherine todd, secret lives of second wives
Lynn lived most of her life alone, devoting hours of her life to her work and curling up with books in her spare time. When she meets Jack and marries him, she does not realize just how much simplicity she must give up in order to become a second wife. Like a character introduced in a play's second act, she must catch up on the shorthand of Jack's life while still trying to maintain her sanity, individuality and dignity. An intruding first wife and downright belligerent stepchildren with a thinly veiled agenda make Lynn's life with Jack almost unbearable. Jack's occasionally selfish behavior doesn't help either.

Todd digs into Lynn and Jack's relationship with gusto, pulling out all the meaty bits to put on display. Betrayal, divided loyalties and two long pasts make rich material for Todd's analysis. Confused and angered by Jack's apparent ignorance of just how bad their marriage has become, Lynn joins the Anne Boleyn Society, a group of second wives who gather to support each other through the trying times they all face and attempt to answer the ultimate question of second wifedom: is it worth it?

Troubles pile on top of Lynn until she reaches her breaking point and begins to consider leaving her marriage. A sexy client does not help her resolve to make her marriage work, and Lynn struggles with the decision. In a last ditch effort to save her marriage, Lynn stops trying so hard, allowing Jack to see, for the first time, the true, dismal state of their marriage.

By telling this pain and anger filled story from Lynn's point of view, Jack could have easily been cast as the villain, but Todd avoids doing this by giving him some truly admirable traits. Jack's sense of humor and endearingly blind love for his children make him both a more believable and more sympathetic character. All the characters suffer due to each other's actions and all struggle to make their lives work. Todd does not allow the reader to typecast any of the characters as the bad guy or the good guy, making the resolution that much more satisfying.

Ceridwen Lewin

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