This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Amanda Keats
Andi was delighted when she finally found Ethan, happy in the knowledge that she had found the man she would marry. It didn't bother her that he already had two children as she was desperate for children herself and relished the opportunity to be a surrogate mother to the girls. Though Sophia took to her immediately, Emily was never happy with her being part of their family and had no problems telling her this on a daily basis. And after years of dealing with Emily's mood swings and dramas that keep a firm hold over everyone in the family, Andy is finally reaching breaking point. Can she get past how Ethan always panders to his eldest daughter and never stands up for her enough to see how good Ethan truly is? Or has she taken on too much?
Jane Green is known for being one of the first authors to lead the chick-lit phenomenon, so I was delighted to finally get the chance to see what all the fuss was about with her latest addition The Patchwork Marriage. The story is, of course, massively relevant to many people today who have divorced and remarried. The 'normal' nuclear family is no longer the norm. Children are having to adjust to step-parents and people are marrying into a family they had no hand in creating.
With this in mind, Green looks at Andi, a woman reaching breaking point as her dream husband is no longer enough to keep her sanity in check. The drama eldest step-daughter Emily brings is brilliantly written. It's so spiteful and nasty that you can feel just how much effort it takes Andi just to keep from exploding with an equal level of rage. She is called 'bitch' frequently and watches as her husband always runs to comfort Emily as her outbursts become more and more uncontrollable. Ethan, her husband, feels guilty that his daughters have had to deal with their parents' divorce and, with an alcoholic ex-wife treating their daughters appallingly and leaving abusive messages on their home answerphone, he is trying to keep everyone happy and managing to make everyone miserable. Young Sophia is stable and dependable, the only one Emily trusts with her secrets – to a degree.
Though the family drama in itself makes the reader keep going, it is the discovery of Emily's shocking secret that spirals the drama out of control and the second half of the book becomes even harder to put down than the first.
Green's brilliance is that she paints an even picture, even though some characters are clearly the villains of the piece. Emily is manipulative, spiteful and nasty beyond belief. But even she is given a back-story that explains her rage without excusing it, as does the alcoholic mother. Andi is no saint either and you can see how her constant attempts to get on Emily's good side have become insincere and cringe-worthy. The reader is compelled to scream at Ethan for never saying no to his daughter but it makes perfect sense that he would feel guilty and over-compensate with affection.
A gripping and compelling read from start to finish, The Patchwork Marriage has all the ingredients needed for a great page-turner and the skill and empathy to make it relevant to any reader, regardless of their family situation.