Monday, January 8, 2024

Book Review: Husbands & Lovers, by Beatriz Williams

I sit down and lean back against the clothes dryer. "All right, Sherlock. So what else?"

"What do you mean, what else?"

"What else makes you think you're Monk Adams's love child? Other than your otherworldly handsomeness and universe-exploding charisma, I mean.

Sam wads up the trunks in his hand and turns to walk out of the room.

"Because you never play any of his songs."

This was an interesting read and a great way to start off 2024—my goal is to try and read more this year (as you may have noticed, my guest reviewer Becki penned most of our reviews in 2023), and I received this one from NetGalley.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: Husbands & Lovers, by Beatriz Williams
Two women—separated by decades and continents, and united by a mysterious family heirloom—reclaim family secrets and lost loves in this sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of
The Summer Wives.

New England, 2022. Three years ago, single mother Mallory Dunne received the telephone call every parent dreads—her ten-year-old son Sam had been airlifted from summer camp with acute poisoning from a toxic death cap mushroom, leaving him fighting for his life. Now, in a search for the donor kidney that will give her son a chance for a normal life, Mallory’s forced to confront two harrowing secrets from her past: her mother’s adoption from an infamous Irish orphanage in 1952, and her own all-consuming summer romance fourteen years earlier with her childhood best friend Monk Adams—now one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters—a fairytale cut short by an agonizing betrayal.

Cairo, 1951. After suffering tragedy beyond comprehension in the war, Hungarian refugee Hannah Ainsworth has forged a respectable new life for herself—marriage to a wealthy British diplomat, a coveted posting in glamorous Cairo. But a fateful encounter with the enigmatic manager of a hotel bristling with spies leads to a passionate affair that will reawaken Hannah's longing for everything she once lost. As revolution simmers in the Egyptian streets, a pregnant Hannah finds herself snared into a game of intrigue between two men…and an act of sacrifice that will echo down the generations.

Timeless and bittersweet, Husbands And Lovers draws readers on an unforgettable journey of heartbreak and redemption, from the revolutionary fires of midcentury Egypt to the moneyed beaches of contemporary New England. Acclaimed author Beatriz Williams has written a poignant and beautifully voiced novel of deeply human characters entangled by morally complex issues—of privilege, class, and the female experience—inside worlds brought shimmeringly to life.

This novel jumps between 1951, Cairo; 2008; and 2022. In 1951 Cairo, Hannah Ainsworth, who has a few secrets, is married to a British diplomat, but has an affair with the manager of a hotel. In 2008, Mallory Dunne has agreed to nanny for the siblings of Monk Adams, a college friend and someone who she secretly has a crush on. And in 2022, Mallory and her son are vacationing on the East Coast and run into Monk Adams, now a superstar musician, who is engaged and about to get married that week. 

It's hard to navigate multiple storylines/timelines, and I thought the author did this well, although I did think the book ended on a cliffhanger/resolution of sorts that could have been expanded. At first I didn't see why the Cairo part was relevant, but it soon reveals itself, and I didn't know much about wartime in Cairo anyways so it was interesting. My favorite parts were actually the ones set in 2008, when Mallory and Monk (who I pictured as John Mayer in my head, for some reason) were falling in love. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in historical and/or romance books, or anyone who enjoys a good mystery, too, actually—it covered a few genres. 

4.5/5 stars.

Husbands & Lovers will be available on June 25, 2024—click here to pre-order on Amazon (affiliate link).


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