I'm one of those people who bring too many books with them on vacation.
This year, we rented a villa in Italy -- and in the fine print on the website, there was a proud boast of bookshelves overflowing with reading material. Intrigued by the possibilities of random bookshelf browsing, I travelled light on books . . . and lived to regret it. Except for some thrillers (not my thing), nearly ALL of the books were written in Italian. This Anita Shreve book was one of the few exceptions. All of which is meant to explain why I ended up reading this book on my summer holiday, despite the fact that it is neither a classic nor recently published.
I've read a few of Shreve's books, and I certainly didn't find this one the most compelling of the lot, but she is a decent writer . . . and this does have a certain amount of drama and suspense which makes it worth reading. You kind of know where it's going, but then in some ways you really don't -- rather like the experience of "the wife" (and also the main character). It hinges on the idea (and I believe that this a favourite theme of Shreve's) that people, even best beloveds, can be startlingly and dramatically unknowable. It's not a comfortable theme, and there is quite a lot of sadness and suffering in this book. I did tire, really, of our heroine's ongoing grief as she struggles to contend with yet another blow to what she thought was the story of her marriage.
Funnily enough, not long after I read this book, I was at the pub with some friends and we got on the subject of people who maintain dual families/lives. In my mind, it's an uncommon and bizarre way to live, but apparently it's more common than one might suppose.