Review: The Runaway Wife by Rowan Coleman

17571290The Runaway Wife
Rowan Coleman
Gallery Books November 12th 2013
Pages 432
ISBN 9781476725239
A copy provided in exchange for an honest review

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Remembering the letter that says, “You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment, and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you,” Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a B&B in England’s lake district. It is her last resort, as she and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. They have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake—if she’s chasing a dream—but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She’s been given a second chance—at life, and love—but will she have the courage to take it?

Blending wit, insight, and emotion with a sensitive touch and a warm dose of humor, Rowan Cowan has crafted a poignant novel that will linger with you long after the final page has been turned.


“No one knows, do they, what it’s like inside? How you feel stuff you don’t want, think things you shouldn’t. It’s like . . . it’s like you’re two people–the person who knows what to do, and the one who does what she wants, whatever the consequences.”

This book has been on my radar for a long time. I was curious about both author and narrative, specifically her presentation on the topic of abuse.

I struggled with narrative and character. I found both flawed and disappointing. As far as the plot went, there was so much implausibility it was ridiculous. The absolute deal breaker was Coleman weaving a love story with the core of the narrative being abuse. I wish she selected one angle and stuck with it, the two competing for attention and reading time was a failure. The love story was preposterous, I don’t want to give too much away leading to a spoiler but it was insane – which leads me to Rose.

There is also an additional turn in the narrative involving a ‘reunion’ of sorts with an estranged family member. The way Coleman introduces this bit – its implausibility is suffocating. Absolutely difficult to wrap your head around, another misstep by the author. An entirely alternate approach would have made a world of difference.

Rose was a major let down. Her decisions and thought processes were horrible. I had to keep reminding myself Rose has been a victim of abuse AND a less than perfect family life. Sadly she hasn’t really matured or found herself. Being under the thumb of an abusive husband since the age of 17 (she is now 31) explains her immature and questionable behavior and poor decision making. I felt Coleman could have developed Rose much more differently. Rose really isn’t likable and her poor character development does not help.

The way Rose responds to men demonstrating any type of positive attention is a major turn off. Yes, I kept reminding myself of her circumstances nonetheless making it difficult to swallow.

The best part of the entire story, Maddie, Rose’s eight year old daughter. Maddie has unidentified ‘issues’ which isn’t a surprise living in an abusive household. This little firecracker does not have a verbal filter and this allows her to speak with brutal honesty. She is aware of what’s going on more than she is given credit. Not a talker but when she speaks her words are golden. An old soul in a little girl.

If Coleman focused on Rose growing and venturing on self discovery, her attention on moving forward with Maddie rather than the path she chose to author could have made a world of difference. As is I just couldn’t relate to plot or character. Left me utterly unimpressed.

I believe Coleman could have approached this story entirely differently. I understand where she was coming from but still there are plenty of areas for improvement. Needless to say this story resides in two camps – love it or hate it. No middle ground, just my thoughts.

2 stars



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