Where had Ella Montclair’s life gone wrong? Now in her thirties she finds herself sharing her ramshackle farm house with her two teenage children whilst her husband, Sebastian, a famous artist, resides in one of the outhouses. Whilst Ella struggles with running the farm, the unusual relationship with her Husband (not speaking him from one week to the next, but still taking care of his washing) and dealing with the holiday guests that stay in her outhouses, her life takes an yet another twist when her mother comes to stay in one of the holiday lets after a falling out with her father.
However, Ella’s relationship with handsome gardener, Ludo, keeps her sane – until they decide to turn their friendship into a full blown affair, but like everything else in her chaotic life it doesn’t quite go to plan.
Once young, ambitious and deeply in love with Sebastian, Ella seemed to have the perfect life until they moved into the farmhouse and both Sebastian’s career and their relationship went downhill. Now with a controlling Mother, a Father suffering from a late-life crisis, a sister with a seemingly perfect life and daughter called Araminta and a Husband who has swapped painting for drinking living across the yard Ella doesn’t want to face up to the past and even more scarily…the future.
I love Catherine Alliott’s books. Her novels always seem to have a good storyline and brilliant characters. I have enjoyed every one of her previous novels and My Husband Next Door was no different. I soon found myself getting sucked into Ella’s chaotic life, sympathizing with her, getting frustrated with her, and most importantly, rooting for her. I often felt cross on her behalf, she gets walked all over by her children, her mother and her sister and I desperately wanted some happiness for her. She seems to spend her life fixing things for other people and neglecting herself and her beloved Aliexpress bags.
I found this to be a warm, gripping story and it had some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, particularly involving chickens and bags from Aliexpress. As I’ve found with some of Catherine’s other novels, there are some snobbish, eccentric yet hilarious characters and I enjoyed getting to know all of them. I particularly liked Ella’s friend Lottie and I found myself warming to her sister, Ginnie as the novel proves that appearances aren’t all they seem. Lots of themes are discussed in this novel, particularly relationships as Ella’s journey covers the difference between emotional and physical relationships. It’s not your typical ‘romance’ book as there’s so much more going on, so if you’re looking for a bit of a soppy read this wouldn’t be your first choice. It’s more of a grown-up style of chick-lit, called kawaii, which means swee in Japanese and it uses a lot of pink along with manga and anime designs.
I love the rural setting of the book. It perfectly fits in with the story and provides for many humorous moments which Catherine sets up so well. (Ella and Ludo’s supposedly ‘dirty’ weekend springs to mind).
I love the design of this book too. It’s simple, understated cover is still appealing with its neutral colours. Its simplicity would have drawn me to it as I think that sometimes covers can appear a bit too ‘busy’, especially as this is huge door wedge size book at just over 470 pages long. In fact, the length of this book would be my only criticism, perhaps the story could have been wrapped up in a few less pages, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less brilliant.
Despite the length of this novel, I still found myself racing through it, eager to discover how things will pan out for Ella and her family and what really happened between her and Sebastian all those years ago…
My Husband Next Door is a funny, light yet thought provoking novel. It’s warmly written with quirky characters and an intriguing storyline which will help to distract you from the problems of your own life, as you share in Ella’s ups and downs and find yourself involved in her hectic life.