Book review: Wife on the Run by Fiona Higgins
I received this as an uncorrected proof to review via The Reading Room, and now that I’m finished, I’m still unsure on how I am going to word this review.
Let me start by saying the book wasn’t what I expected. I suppose if it was a movie, it would be classed as black comedy. That might be my problem; I’ve always hated that genre.
The book is being promoted as a woman going on a road trip with her kids and dad, and banning technology. ‘It’s time to get back to basics and learn how to be a family again,’ the blurb states. It’s an interesting premise, but not really what the book is about at all. A classic finding yourself/sea change type thing, I thought. But…
Yes, the lead character, Paula, does embark on a road trip in a caravan (trailer for you Americans!), but the ‘no tech’ rule doesn’t last long and I wouldn’t call it the real theme of the book.
The theme of redemption is sort of in there, but Paula and her estranged husband, Hamish, have few redeeming qualities between them…
And thus lies the problem with me and the book, I think. I want to at least like one of the main characters. Instead I found their ignorance overwhelmingly pathetic. Some startling examples of the characters’ ignorance includes not knowing where Brussels is, never having met or talked to an Indigenous Australian (what the?), setting off for a drive across the Nullabor with no preparation, going for a dip in a Northern Territory river, and inviting a shady stranger they met in a RSL to travel with them.
Hamish’s ‘escapades’ with alcohol and sex were an uneasy read for most. Paula’s similar obsessions were just as annoying. Someone needs to tell this pair there’re other things in life than sex.
At times, I had to wonder if the author’s attempt to write ‘gritty true-to-life’ characters and situations went too far, making them quite unbelievable for me. For example, the homophobic miners in an outback pub bordered on the ridiculous. I really don’t think anyone carries on like that in this day and age, sorry. And a school principal acting like the one did in this book? Er… What?
The twists in the book were unfortunately also predictable, especially the Marcello and Leisl ones. You could see them coming a mile away.
I’m not sure if I would have bothered finishing this book if I hadn’t had to review it. I’ll give it a low 3/5 for the writing, which I can’t really technically fault, and the Australian settings, which I enjoyed and made me itch to go on a holiday.