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Missing Wives….

Have you ever wanted to disappear and make a new life for yourself where no one knows your name?

Coincidentally, I have been reading two novels about wives who run away from home. Who for some reason or another the protagonists have had enough and disappear to make a new life under the guise of a new name…..

The first novel I read about a missing wife was Ten White Geese, also called “The Detour” in the UK.

A woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. An Emily Dickinson scholar, she has fled Amsterdam, having just confessed to an affair to a first year student where she taught. On the farm she finds ten geese. One by one they disappear. Who is this woman?

At the same time over at Rotterdam, Emilie’s husband is looking for her. A conversation with Emilie’s parents, the police Anton, makes the husband wonder why Emilie would disapper.

The young man, Bradwen, who stays the night at Emilie’s: why won’t he leave?

Many thanks to Penguin who sent me the ebook, I read it on my Kindle. Bakker’s writing reminds me those of Per Petterson, it is calm, quite except Bakker’s Detour blend the stark and pristine landscape of Wales with a sense of loneliness, insanity and surprising menace.

It made me unsettled. Where is this novel going? Will Emilie reconcile with her husband? Is someone going to die? Is someone losing his or her mind?

I find the humour subtle not overly done. Emilie was bitten by a badger when badgers were known as meek. There was a menacing streak of caretaker Rhy Jones and the erotic tension felt by Emilie when she watched Bradwen work. The book raises many questions as it takes you through the thoughts and subtle messages of Emilie. Perhaps it is too obscure for me, therefore I cannot relate to it. Perhaps it is a book that takes you on a journey of the real and surreal, the troubled and the contemplative minds. It was odd, quiet, unsettling and the book has nothing much ado with geese. The British title of “The Detour” is probably more suitable. The book is 2013 winner of IFFP.

Rating: two and half stars

I didn’t quite get the novel, but perhaps these reviews written by my favourite book bloggers who get it, may help you decide if you want to read this book or not.

Other views:
The Asylum: This page-turning quality, the low-key eroticism and humour, and unexpected regular appearances from Tesco and Channel 4′s A Place in the Sun, all make this book quite a … variation on what you might expect.

Tony’s Reading list: Yes.  It’s a most enjoyable work, one which deserves and almost demands a reread.  There’s so much going on in terms of plot, style, pacing, characterisation…  I liked it

gerbrand bakker

Dolce Bellezza: I chose to read this book because it was short listed for the IFFP; I feel no need to read any of the other contenders. It is so completely satisfying, so beautifully told, so multi-layered and rich in meaning that I am hoping already it is declared the winner.

About the writer:

Gerbrand Bakker (born 28 April 1962) is a Dutch writer. He won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for The Twin, the English translation of his novel Boven is het stil, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Detour, the English translation of his novel De omweg.

According to Bakker, The Detour came from a “hugely depressed” time in his life. “I write instinctively. Something wants to come out. Only now do I see that this book is terribly much about myself. I write from the back of my mind. I don’t see what I’m doing.”


One Step too farHave you ever wanted to disappear and make a new life for yourself where no one knows your name?

An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life – changing her name, holing up in a grotty house in North London, taking a dead-end job where she won’t be found. Has she had a breakdown? Was it to escape her dysfunctional family, especially her malevolent twin Caroline who always seemed to hate her? And what is the anniversary that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?

One Step Too Far is a book that people read due to the hype and marketing. The book is “touted as being one of the must read books of the summer, and one that everyone is sure to be talking about.” As a result I ended up reading it and the book appeared at the WH Smith bestsellers list.

Is it any good? Well…. I am not a big fan of chick lit (except for Sophie Kinsella) and found this to be one. The writing wasn’t great. The descent of Emily into the abyss of darkness seems frivolous, unnecessary and signalling some form of serious mental breakdown. The writing wasn’t that great. I found it hard for someone who claim to love her children so much and grieve over them would walk out of the home one day and forget about them. The lure of the novel, and one that receives raves for it, was the sudden twist towards the end that tells you why Emily walked out of her home in the first place. The anniversary of a horrible incident she couldn’t face. If I want to be surprised, I think I would rather read Gone Girl all over again.

Rating: two stars

I thank the publisher for a free copy of One Step Too Far in return for an honest opinion.

Both Ten White Geese / The Detour and One Step Too Far provide an escapism literature for readers who are encumbered with daily demands perhaps. These missing wives novels feel something amiss to me. If you are looking for class, try The Detour. If you love chick lit and hope to be surprised at the end, try One Step Too Far.

About the writer:

Tina seskisTina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, the daughter of an airline engineer and a sales rep.  Her parents bestowed upon Tina a certain degree of eccentricity – her dad amongst other things built a boat in the front garden on their commuter belt housing estate, moved them into a touring caravan when their new house wasn’t built, and took them all over the world with his free air travel and limited budget.

Tina studied business at the University of Bath and then worked for over 20 years in marketing, advertising and online, with varying degrees of success.  Before that she did a variety of other jobs including door to door encylopedia selling in the US, industrial relations for Ford in Halewood, Liverpool, and selling bacon butties with her granny in the Halfway Hut at Wentworth Golf Club. Tina never intended writing a novel.  She wrote One Step Too Far over a two month period in summer 2010 and then gave up writing entirely for well over a year, before writing her second novel A Serpentine Affair in autumn 2011. Her third book (working title Collision) is due for completion in 2013, and is the coming together of a key character from each of the first two novels, if Tina can make the plot work. Tina Seskis lives in North London with her husband and son.

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


16 thoughts on “Missing Wives….

  1. I had started reading Ten White Geese but couldn’t get pulled into. It definitely had a very dark beginning.

    Posted by Athira | August 10, 2013, 12:11 am
  2. Actually, ‘Ten White Geese’ is the American title – the British version is ‘The Detour’ (much closer to the original Dutch title)!

    Posted by Tony | August 10, 2013, 12:38 am
  3. I rather like the “Ten White Geese” title, even if it’s not the original title — it sounds sort of fairy-tale-ish!

    Posted by Jenny @ Reading the End | August 10, 2013, 12:32 pm
  4. That Tina Seskis book seems to be everywhere at the moment – or maybe it just feels that way because of the eye-catching cover. I can’t decide whether to buy it or not. But, I have finally taken the plunge and got hold of a copy of Gone Girl this weekend to see what all the fuss is about, so I’m glad to hear you liked that one better!

    Posted by Marie | August 10, 2013, 1:15 pm
    • Marie,
      I know……!!! Tina Seskis books seem to be everywhere, but it wasn’t that good! I think you made the right choice. I look forward to hear what you think about Gone Girl. I feel compel to read all Gillian Flynn books now. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | August 10, 2013, 9:25 pm
  5. Sad these books didn’t work that well for you. The second one actually has an interesting premise. Too bad it went the chick-lit route

    Posted by Nish | August 11, 2013, 3:09 am
    • Nish,
      When things like that happened, I ask myself is it because I was in a foul mood when I read these books? I don’t think so.

      But some people seems to like these two, not the same group of people though. 😉

      Posted by JoV | August 11, 2013, 8:05 am
  6. Too bad they didn’t work for you. I think it’s a great topic. I often wonder how many of the people who just disappear might not live a new life somewhere else. Too bad thye ddn’t work for you though. I’ve got the Bakker. We’ll see how I will like it.

    Posted by Caroline | August 11, 2013, 6:55 pm
    • Caroline,
      Possibly many and could only happen in fiction. I often wonder without a valid identity card, how would one go about earning their keeps or living another life? except if you are Jason Bourne of Bourne Identity, working for an intelligence agency. 😉

      Posted by JoV | August 11, 2013, 10:10 pm
  7. I added The Detour to my wishlist after reading Tony’s review. I hope my experience with it is more favourable than yours. I am guessing this is a book better read when in a quiet, reflective mood…

    Posted by Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews | August 12, 2013, 11:09 am
  8. I like the sound of this one but I don’t like that you rated it only 2 and a half stars. An unsettled feeling is not good. I do love stories about women running away though. I wanted to run away last night. Shhhh.

    Posted by Ti | August 16, 2013, 5:13 pm

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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