First, I’d like to say that I have known of Eileen Goudge for quite some time, but for some reason I have never read any of her work. I was given an ARC copy of The Replacement Wife by Open Road Media.
Eileen Goudge’s website, describes the book: “Camille Hart, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent.”
NetGalley summarizes the book: “From New York Times bestselling author Eileen Goudge comes a poignant new novel that asks the question, “What would you do if you were told you had only six months to live?” For one professional matchmaker the answer is heart-wrenching: She must find her husband’s next wife.”
I loved the quote at the beginning of the book, “But love is blind and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit.” from William Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 6. It is a great one line summary of what the characters in The Replacement Wife face.
The Replacement Wife chronicles the life of Camille Harte, a woman who seems to have everything – at least all the important things. A loving husband, wonderful children, and a flourishing business, Harte to Harte, a high-end matchmaking business.
Camille didn’t have much of a childhood – her mother died while she was just a teenager, and for all intents and purposes, raised her younger sister, Holly. Their father left them to fend for themselves with only a live-in housekeeper, who did not double as a nanny. When Camille is diagnosed with cancer, she fights long and hard to beat it. She calms her family’s fears, continues to work when possible, and even goes through a stem cell transplant in her fight. Her recovery gives her an appreciation for waking up everyday, and making the most of life.
After Camille’s latest PET scan shows that she is out of remission and now in Stage 4, she decides that hope is too hard, and that she must learn acceptance. Her Hematologist-Oncologist has given her only a 3% chance of beating the cancer this time, and at the most, only 6-9 months to live. She begins to make plans for her family’s life after her death. She tells her husband, Edward, that she will not be continuing treatments this time, and that he needs to prepare for her to die.
While they decide not to tell their children how dire the diagnosis is, Kyra and Zach, ages 14 and 9, are devastated by the news. As the family adjusts to Camille’s news, she and Edward’s relationship becomes strained when he wants her to continue treatment, and she refuses. After watching her mother pass away and her father drift further and further away from their family, she is concerned with how well Edward will manage the children and his practice without her.
Although she continues to work, she promotes her assistant, Dara, to a full partner and begins to shuttle more of the word load to her. Camille tries to decide how to help her husband cope after she’s gone and devises a plan to use her matchmaking skills to find a woman who can integrate into her family, be there for her children, and help her husband cope with her death. When she shares her idea with him, he is furious with her – he only wants her to live, not for her to replace herself.
As Edward and Camille struggle with her deteriorating health, and her continued resistance to seeking treatment of the cancer, they drift further and further apart emotionally. Camille follows through with her plan and actively pursues women to come meet her husband and children. When a new cancer drug becomes available to test subjects, Camille decides to give it a try. She is afraid to hope, but with nothing to lose, she moves forward with the trial.
As Camille’s health improves, her relationship with Edward continues to deteriorate. Will her physical healing lead to emotional healing in her family?
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I have to say that this is a subject that I hadn’t considered. While I have complete faith in my husband’s ability to juggle both career and family if the need arose, I would want him to be happy, and can’t see actively seeking my replacement. After reading The Replacement Wife I told my husband about it, and assured that I would want him to move on with his life and be happy – after an appropriate level of mourning, of course! I don’t want to spoil the book, but it didn’t end as I thought it might – and I’m l still not sure if I liked the ending.
While I understand the selflessness Camille was trying to display for her husband and children, it also seems that she was trying to control how their life would be after she was gone. The book allows you to feel both Edward and Camille’s emotions, as well as the motivation for the decisions they make.
Based on the cover information, I’m not sure that I would have picked up this book on my own, as I feel like there is enough sadness and drama in real life without actively seeking to bring it into my life through reading. I was disappointed with the ending, although I totally understand the characters and the actions that bring them to that conclusion.
This book was released on March 27, 2012
I rate this book a 3 out of 5.