That’s what Imogen did when she created her ‘Plan’.
I love books that place me in the middle of the action the moment I start reading. It draws me in immediately, and that’s what The Missing Wife does. It opens with Imogen on the run. She’s cut her hair, taken the bus to the outskirts of Paris, opened a separate bank account and has started using her maiden name. She means business.
As her journey progresses, the reader is taken into Imogen’s past and the reason she fled her idyllic life slowly becomes apparent.
The book deals with domestic abuse of a not-so-talked-about sort. Imogen has lived the last five years of her life controlled by a manipulative and possessive little man with obsessive-compulsive disorder (think Sleeping with the Enemy).
Although Vince is not physically abusive, over the years he’s slowly chipped away Imogen’s confidence bit by bit until she becomes a wound up and scared woman – the opposite of who she was when she first got married.
As I was reading, I found myself drawing parallels between Vince, and a friend’s ex husband. Sadly, these situations are not fictional. Far from it.
Imogen had to escape to find herself and regain the confidence she used to have. And so begins her journey.
As you read The Missing Wife, you get the points of view of both Imogen and Vince. What I like about how Vince’s character is written is that he is truly convinced he is in the right. Isn’t that how you create an effective antagonist? Charming on the outside, rotten on the inside.
The book also takes you back to Imogen’s life as a child, showing you the struggles she went through growing up with a single mother who moved homes a lot. Her ever-changing life, with very little security and role models, left Imogen feeling angry and rootless.
As Vince stalks Imogen throughout Paris, the tension mounts as the unavoidable confrontation comes to a head. Will Imogen give in and return with Vince? Is she strong enough to stand her ground? Was she right to leave everything behind?
This is the first novel I’ve read of Sheila O’Flanagan and I found myself immersed in her storytelling. The Missing Wife is relaxing yet suspenseful and tense at some points. The few bits of romance fit well with the story, and don’t feel forced.
I found The Missing Wife a perfect companion to a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, will be published this year.