Well, there’s a lesson in this narrative. Mothers, stay home with your children. If you stray from the natural order a ghastly comeuppance will be visited upon you.
A woman in an unhappy marriage accepts an offer from an old flame. We are told of Kavita’s dissatisfaction with husband Vishal, who is lacking in ambition, driving a cab at nights and not waking early enough in the morning to do his share of childcare. Kavita is bored at work and has two under four. This is explained, and yeah, life is frustrating, but I never really feel the deep emotional need underlying her discontent which might elicit some sympathy for this wife and mother. What sends her over the edge? She tells us she feels guilty as she goes off to betray Vishal. This needs more exploring.
The old flame, Ashwin, is a friend of Vishal, but sophisticated and suave where the husband is dowdy. He has a sexy, toned bod and a litany of gorgeous ex-girlfriends. He propositions Kavita on the off-chance and can’t believe his luck when she accepts a week away on Waiheke Island. He’s always fancied her. Will they have sex? Well yes, they do. Lots of it, and though she’s worried about her ageing mum-bod she immediately strips off and instigates the play. There’s a racist landlady (‘I thought your name was Ash, for Ashley,’ she says), and trips to wine bars and boozy restaurants, but again, the characters are light on emotional development.
The book picks up pace when Vishal slips up at home and the novel’s short, sharp, contrasting passages start. We, the readers, have dual vision and watch both parts of the story side-by-side. Life at home gallops terrifyingly forward while on the Island things hang suspended as the silly woman takes her time about deciding to GO HOME. Surely every woman should be able to feel when something is not right with her children? That’s a myth that’s well debunked.
I wish the author had had a bit more courage at the end to go the whole hog. I’m left wondering, if betraying your husband for a week of hot sex with his friend deserves this punishment, what degree of sin would rate the full catastrophe?