I’ve made no qualms of telling you previously how much I enjoy Lisa Jewell and The Third Wife is no exception, but as with The House We Grew Up In, it’s a sad book and one that really makes you ponder the meaning of love, marriage and ultimately forgiveness.
Adrian is loved by all, but very flawed. When his third wife inexplicably falls under a bus after a big night out, he is understandably bereft, but what makes it far worse is the discovery of threatening emails addressed to her before she died. As he tries to figure out who would go after Maya in this way, Adrian begins to realize the faults he made in his previous two marriages and as a father of five. He is essentially a ‘manboy’, frightened to grow up, in search of the perfect life and never really stopping to take stock of what he has.
There are large tracts of time in this novel, where not a great deal really happens except for family life and therein lies the genius of it. I know for certain that The Husband and I are often able to delay action or decision making for days if not weeks when things get busy, which they always do with kids. Yes, the question of who could have sent such emails to Maya always lurks in the narrative, but there’s a lot of life to be lived and like so much when we are busy with our kids, jobs etc people aren’t always one hundred percent focussed on the task at hand. The result of this is that whilst we try to figure out who was behind this evil act, we end up sharing in Adrian’s life, his concerns about his children and his ex-wives. Can a man still be a good husband and family man, even when he’s only there on a part-time basis?
So much of this novel depends on us sympathizing with Adrian and oddly, despite all his failings, this is easy to do. He feels a little like every man you’ve vaguely had a crush on through the years, so his managing to find three women to marry doesn’t seem like such a gigantic stretch.
Whilst this isn’t my favorite of Lisa Jewell’s novels it has a gentle kindness to it and so remains worth a read.