Title: The Woman he loved before
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Published: 3rd February 2011
Publisher: Sphere/Little Brown Group
Libby has a good life with a gorgeous husband and a home by the sea. But over time she is becoming more unsure if Jack has ever loved her - and if he is over the death of Eve, his first wife. When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve. But in doing so she unearths devastating secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved ...
It took me a few tries to actually start this book and be completely immersed in it. The beginning of the book tells the event to the present time, when main character Libby is involved in a serious car crash, alternating with her recount of how she met her husband-to-be Jack.
This part sets the background story throughout the book which is her recovery.
Jack also gets his narrative part recounting his side of the events, pre and post crash.
Slowly, the main problem in the story arose to be that Jack's previous wife, Eve, died suddenly after falling down the stairs and breaking her neck.
Tensions started to build up from then on when it was suggested that Jack might have killed his first wife and attempted to kill his second, Libby.
Jack, from his point of view, confused between his two wives, his love for them both and their almost similar fatal ends, withdrew from communication, adding to the fear that Libby might be in danger.
Libby aware that his husband is torn between his love for his first wife and hers, searched the house to find things on Eve, what happened to her, who she was, etc... In her quest, she stumbled upon her diaries.
The reader is then transported into a different era where Eve's life is revealed - a gruesome start, bad decisions, dangerous encounters, etc...
Reading those parts were quite frightening and difficult, the author managed to transfer to the reader what she wanted her character to feel. At times, you don't want to read anymore because it feels to real, too close to you and you are saddened for Eve, but at other times, when you switch to Libby's narration, you come back into Libby's skin and you need to know what Eve went trough to understand Jack, so you keep on reading!
Characters are described such as you can visualize them and almost give them a real identity, physically as well as mentally.
Each part narrated by a different person, Libby, Eve or Jack, makes you feel close to that person and you want them to be happy.
When all bits and pieces finally get together and all information has been laid out, you still don't know what the grand finale is gonna be but you are expecting it to be unexpected. That's the feeling I had when I read the Author's previous title "The ice cream girls" and for that one, it happened.
Unfortunately, in this ending, there was no spark and I was left wanting more scandal, drama and justice for some of the characters. The ending was a bit too safe. This said, Dorothy koomson is a fiction not a murder mystery writer and as a fiction story, it does deliver!