When the book begins Pippa is in her fifties. She’s one of those well-to-do perfect housewife types that everyone simply adores. She’s been married to Herb, thirty years her senior, for thirty or so years and they are the parents of grown up twins. Life is idyllic with a beach house and everything. Herb is eighty(ish) when he realizes one day he’s getting old and wants to sell their real estate and move into a planned community for aging people so Pippa won’t have to care for him when his health starts to fail.
I went into this book cold, having grabbed the audiobook randomly off a shelf. I should probably stop doing that. When it began I thought it was going to be a quirky fish out of water type of read with highbrow, spoiled Pippa trying to fit in with the older folks at the community but it’s not about that. I then thought it would be a mystery of sorts when a creepy neighbor moves in and strange things start to happen after Pippa and Herb go to bed. But it’s not about that either. It’s all about Pippa’s “secret lives”. I guess the title should’ve clued me in.
Anyway, as Pippa shares her past it is soon revealed that she has been everything but perfect. I won’t give it all away in case you have this in your tbr pile somewhere. I’ll only say that the more I learned about Pippa, the less I liked about Pippa. She is, was and probably always will be a selfish, relationship ruining, woe-is-me type. But she feels oh-so bad and shoulders so much guilt but feels she can’t help her actions because they are not her fault. It is the fault of the legacy passed on to her by the women before her. Oh boo frigging hoo. Grow up and take responsibility for your poor (and selfish) choices. Honestly, I have no sympathy for someone like this. She doesn’t learn from her mistakes. She uses her past as a crutch. Old people disgust her. And I think she may bathe in kitten blood to maintain her beauty when no one is looking. Ok, so I made the last one up but really it’s not much of a stretch.
At one point Pippa says to herself, “I would like the chance to be kind.”
I would’ve liked that too.
It’s tough for me to enjoy a book when I dislike the main character so much but I kept reading hoping for some great epiphany when Pippa would realize most of the problems in her life were of her own making and that she’d finally change her patterns. She does have some realizations, especially regarding her daughter and even once admits (again to herself) that her actions were “grotesque” but it was not enough. Just when I started to feel a glimmer of compassion towards her the ridiculous and very rushed ending happens. Again, I won’t give it away but the whole thing ended on a really sour note for me and I feel like I wasted hours of my life finishing this thing. This is one book I truly regret not DNFing after disc one.
I can’t say this was badly written or horrible because it wasn’t. Parts of it were very engrossing and brutally honest and it held my attention but though I normally enjoy flawed characters I just couldn’t connect with the heroine on any level and that was a huge problem for me seeing as this was her story.
On the positive, the narration was beautifully done by Bernadette Dunne who brings the story to life in a lovely, lyrical voice that was soothing to my ears.