Title: The Stepmother
Author: Carrie Adams
Release Date: March 3, 2009
Challenge: 2009 Pub Challenge, Countdown Challenge
Review: HarperCollins First Look
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher:
With The Godmother, Carrie Adams established herself as a writer of depth and skill who captures the complexities of relationships, family, and love with insight and aplomb. In this entertaining follow up, she explores what happens to a would-be new wife and an ex-wife when their true love is the same man. Tessa King has finally found James, but he comes with a catch—or four: an ex-wife and three daughters. Try as she might, they don’t like her, and she can’t understand why. James swears the divorce was no one’s fault, some relationships just break down. But if that’s the case, Tessa wonders, how secure is hers? James’s ex-wife, Bea, kept the divorce amicable by burying past hurts. It cost her, but the pain was a small price to pay for her daughters’ happiness. Now there is Tessa, and everything is changing. But it’s not the children’s reactions that shock Bea—it’s her own. Tessa and Bea’s greatest fear is each other. But there’s no point taking sides because, as they discover, there are just too many. Dark yet touching, humorous yet achingly real, The Stepmother is a deftly drawn novel sure to please Adams’s fans and earn her many more.
The Stepmother is a sort of sequel to Carrie Adams’ first novel, The Godmother (which focuses on the character of Tessa King). While these two books are both very entertaining, there’s always that lingering question with books like this: am I missing something by not reading The Godmother first? The answer is no. These two books definitely stand on their own. If you didn’t read the first novel, but this one interests you, don’t hesitate. That being said, reading The Godmother first does give Tessa some background and depth. Also, there’s not much of a point to reading them out of order. The Stepmother gives a brief overview of what happened in The Godmother; so if you do want to read them both, they should be read in order.
The Stepmother is a great novel that gets into the minds of two women on opposing sides. There’s Bea, the ex-wife, and Tessa, the stepmother. Usually in novels such as this, one is the “bad guy.” However, Adams illustrates both of these women as very sympathetic characters with their own needs, wants, and hurts. The main theme to the book is that, in a situation like this, there is no bad guy. There are simply too many points of view to consider.
This novel is also a very entertaining read. While there are very serious subjects contained within its pages (depression, alcoholism, bulimia), it never weighs the reader down. Instead, the reader will devour the book, wishing for happy outcomes for both women. The problem is whether that is even possible – can they each find happiness, or will the happiness of one woman come at the expense of the other?
The Stepmother is a very well-written book that any women’s fiction fans will enjoy. I actually do recommend reading The Godmother first just because it does give some background to Tessa’s character, but even if you choose not to, readers will still find something of value within the pages of The Stepmother.