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The First Wife

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  504 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
What if the man you love isn't the man you think he is? Lily, a young woman left alone in the world on the death of her grandparents, finds purpose when she befriends Harry Summers, a grieving widower, whose wife Sarah recently took her own life in Barcelona. The pair fall in love and Lily finally finds the security she has never had. But Lily's life takes a darker turn wh ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Headline Review
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Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another brilliant, un-putdownable novel from Emily Barr. This one tells the stoy of Lily Button, 20 years old and all alone after the deaths of her grandparents whom she has looked after for years. Lily has no family and no friends and no idea how to get on in the world. Acting on the advise of the CAB she finds a room, her first ever friends and work as a cleaner. Amongst her clients are Harry and Sarah Summer, a glamorous couple that she meets briefly before the shocking death of Sarah. Lily c ...more
Jan 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm a big fan of Emily Barr, though she's hard to find in the states, a good combo of travel and chick lit. This wasn't as interesting as her early works (I think Cuba/Cuban Heels was best), it's still a fun read with a nice bit of mystery. The pacing was a bit weird, with all the action happening very quickly at the end, but really enjoyed the first half and glad I hadn't read the cover before starting.
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Lily Button was abandoned by her feckless parents when she was very young. Her grandparents took her in, and gave her a stable, traditional upbringing in the Cornish countryside. But as Lily grew up her grandparents became increasingly frail, and the balance shifted. Lily had to look after them.

When her grandparents died Lily found herself alone in the world. And she found herself homeless. The family home was heavily mortgaged, there were debts to pay, and Lily was left with nothing.

She was dev
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Lily Button is 20, and has lived a very sheltered life, raised by her grandparents. When they die she finds work as a cleaner and is employed by local celebrity couple, Harry and Sarah Summer. After the death of Mrs Summer, Lily grows closer to Harry, but gradually she starts to have suspicions that Harry is not being entirely truthful with her about events in his marriage.

This is a strange book to get into. It feels reminiscent of Victoria Holt's novels (even the Cornish setting) about innocent
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
I am a fan of Emily Barr, in each book I read. This is another one, page turning, hard to let go, a quick and satisfying read.
We always find nasty and horrible persons in her books, and the endings are not always as happy as we would like, but isn't that life?
I loved following Lily's growth, and even though we see from the start what she can't see herself about Harry, we are one her side, and we are surprised with the conclusions.
Great day when I found about Emily Barr, in September 2009 at a f
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I do enjoy reading Emily Barr. Her characters are just so fleshed-out, so human, that I can relate to them so easily.
This story did not disappoint. Okay, I did guess the outcome, but it didn't take away any of the joy of reading this.
I didn't think this was as polished as her later novels, but still really good.
Donna Patterson
Jan 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
I love Emily Barr and have read all her books, but I couldn't be bothered to finish this one. I found it disappointing. Not a page turner like her others.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
There were aspects of this book that worked well and others where the plot was a bit thin. Generally, some of the characters were a bit wearying - particularly Lily and her gullibility. However, despite this I enjoyed the book.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Charming fluff, followed by "seriously?" and all's well in the end.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The plot was pretty ok but the main character was really annoying.
Couldn't stand Lilly. ..just yuck
June Jones
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good read. Would recommend
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a huge Emily Barr fan, I wasn’t able to get into her earlier work, but since The Sisterhood came out I’ve been hooked. I eagerly read The Sisterhood, followed by The Life You Want and The Perfect Lie. Emily is undoubtedly the Queen of suspense with her novels having brilliantly spooky plots with many twists and turns so I was thrilled when I received a proof copy of her new novel The First Wife. It’s billed as a modern-day Rebecca, but having not read Rebecca I have no idea how accurate that ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy read. I had to suspend belief quite a lot of the time. A famous actor ...why wouldn't you just google!
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A book I picked up at this year's book festival. The theme made me think of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, but it is nothing like it. Lily Button grew up with her grand parents after her own parents deserted her at a young age and emigrated to New Zealand. When they die she is on her own, without much experience of either life and other people.

She ends up in a city nearby and is happy to run into Al who is working for a municipality center, advising and helping people in need. He inspires her to
Hannah Wingfield
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
First things first – Emily Barr is one of my favourite authors. I discovered her work nearly five years ago whereupon I hungrily read through all her then-available books, and ever since I’ve always looked forward to her next offering. This wasn’t my favourite book of hers (that accolade is shared between Out Of My Depth, Baggage and Backpack, through I’ve not disliked a single novel she’s written) but nevertheless it was very enjoyable. Sometimes I see Emily Barr’s work filed under “chick lit” ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lily Button has lost both her Grandparents, she has no friends, family, or money she was abandoned at 8 years old and has lived with her Grandparents since. She is feeling empty and is grieving for them both. Lily manages to find a room in a family home where she gets reduced rates for babysitting. Lily finds a job cleaning for Harry and Sarah Summer, Harry is a local celebrity she is really happy they have a gorgeous home; she also manages to get another 2 cleaning jobs she has never worked in ...more
Mandy Chrystie
Jun 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Hm....I have read most of Emily Barr's books since I love reading books which involve travel (and romance). But I was disappointed in this one. It's still entertaining enough, a pleasant enough read, but not gripping, and in parts, not even that particularly well written, I thought. It seems Emily is 'going through the motions' with this book. I found some of the story lines and characters a little contrived and not all that realistic. The handsome movie star meets the attractive lonely cleaner ...more
Hiep Huynh
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it

I haven't read any Emily Barr books before, so wasn't expecting anything this suspenseful and, at times, downright frightening!

The first bit of the book is a bit slow, but there's still so much development and exploration of the characters that it isn't boring. Lily Button is a sweet girl, and although it's a bit unbelievable, it's never cloying or annoying.

The second bit feels a bit rushed, but I guess there was no way really to slow down the events. Suddenly other events in the book start
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kept me up latish at night reading this, and delayed me getting to work one morning as I kept having to read one more chapter! Had initially got a bit annoyed with the main narrator for her little bit over the top innocence and naivety (too many sentences in the style of "I'd never done X before, but it looks like I could pretend to everyone else that I could do it.") but about half way through the pace sped up and the plot turns more frequent. A sub-story involving New Zealand always began to m ...more
Lucy Blunden
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Started well and although it seemed rather implausible, I liked the early years of the main character's life. Some quirks of up-bringing in an isolated life with ailing grandparents in Cornwall. The love-story second half fell very hard into the chic-lit genre which I had thought from reading the back, that this was not going to be. It was gushy and teen in its nonsense. I finished it but was not riveted nor could I believe in it. The 'surprise' twist was trite and on the predictable side.
Karen Seal
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was given to me by a friend who definitely knows the kinds of books I enjoy! The main character, Lily, you get to know very well. Although naive, she found an inner strength when she needed it, which I really liked. There was a suspense to the book that made me want to keep reading it but I did feel I knew where it was heading. Intertwining stories were all settled by the end, so you knew where all the characters lives were.
Ira Phillips
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At last, a book I really enjoyed and did not want to put down!

I liked the character of Lily and could relate to her upbringing and early experiences of living with her grandparents. The description of this reminded me of an old boyfriend's grandparents and made me smile.

Although Lily is rather innocent and the ending predictable, it was fun to read and an escapism, which is what I require from the books I read!
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this book up with trepdition for I have never read Barr before. But she writes well and keeps you interested throughout. Although the book is compared to rebecca, I wouldnt say the same, but yes the underlying theme is similar to the du maurier novel but far more contemporary and less complex.

An enjoyable read. Would recommend.
John Travers
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it
why do you do this emily barr? or why do i do it, knowing that every book i read of yours will be the same. is it you trying to be clever, or an editor who thinks your well written prose isnt exciting enough. every one of your books is a well written story, with an "exciting twist" jammed in clumsily. just write the first book and forget the twist.

Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Readable, with cliched but well described characters and almost too much plot - too many neat coincidences for my taste, and I saw most of the "surprises" coming. However, I did quite like the heroine (only book I can think of where the female love interest wears clothes chosen by her dead granny, for one thing), and it was gripping enough for holiday-type reading.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was actually pretty gripped with this book - although the main element to the storyline was a bit fuzzy. But it was well written, with meaning and emotion similar to Jodi Picoult or Diane Chamberlain. I'm definitely going to have to add more of Barr's books to my wishlist!
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Mildly entertaining read while coorying in with a cold, but wildly implausible characters and plot line undid it in the end. Not bad for a train or plane journey read I guess - there was enough to keep me turning the pages to the finish anyway.
Gillian Smith
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic good women's fiction read. I enjoyed the story of 2 parts, kept me interested to the end. Must admit I did not like the main character Lily, annoying in her own way, but did not put me off the book.

A good summer read, especially in Spain.
This was my first intorduction to this author and due to the comparisons to Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, I had high hopes for this book. It's a tamer read however, lacking any real suspense and the villain came across as more petty than sinister. An average read.
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Emily Barr worked as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. She went travelling for a year, writing a column in the Guardian about it as she went, and it was there that she had an idea for a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became Backpack, which won the WH Smith New Talent Award. She has since written eleven more adult novels publish ...more
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