Scoop Review of Books

Be careful what you wish for

Tempting Fate by Jane Green (Penguin, $37)
Reviewed by Fiona O’Kane

TemptingFateJane Green is an international bestselling author, and one of the reigning queens of ‘chick lit’. Whilst her books aren’t as strongly comedic as those of some of her peers, such as Marian Keyes or Helen Fielding, her novels are known for their warmth, and gentle humour in dramatic situations. Tempting Fate is her fifteenth novel.

The main character is Gabby, a 43-year-old mother of two, who has been happily married for 20 years. Her husband is kind and sweet and her best friend, but she hesitates to admit to herself that the spark has gone out of their marriage. Then she has a chance meeting with a handsome younger man, who flatters her and sweeps her off her feet, wanting to talk about other things than the school run or the PTA (Parent Teachers Association).

Strong themes that are cleverly handled throughout include “judge not, lest ye be judged” and “be careful what you wish for”. Like anyone, Gabby’s happy stable life is only one bad judgement away from collapse, and she doesn’t realise that until it’s too late.

Gabby is at times difficult to like, because whilst you understand her motivations, you can see from a mile off the terrible decision she’s going to make. And she sees it too. The plot pivots around Gabby’s attempts to fix the damage she has done and mend the relationships that are most precious to her.

For non-parents, the lingering descriptions of parenthood and longing for more children may seem to take up many, many pages of the book. However, the target audience will no doubt enjoy the parallels with their own lives, and enjoy the honest descriptions of some of the highs and lows of motherhood.

Tempting Fate is a well written and engaging tale, although at times the longing to shake the character by the lapels is overwhelming. But, of course, sometimes the characters in the books we enjoy the most are the ones who challenge our ideas by being believably similar to ourselves, yet making choices that we hope we wouldn’t make. And hopefully finding redemption and forgiveness, although there are no guarantees in fiction or real life.