Book Club: Wife On The Run

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Author: Fiona Higgins
ISBN: 978-1-74331-026-7
RRP: $29.99

Wife On The Run is so completely relatable that I found myself drawn further and further into the narrative and didn’t want to put it down. I think everyone in a long term monogamous relationship is going to find something in this book that speaks to them.

Paula and Hamish have been married 17 years and life has settled into a comfortable rhythm, or so it seems. Technology bursts the family bubble in a spectacular way. First comes the Facebook scandal featuring their fourteen year old daughter, a situation that is the stuff of nightmares for any parent of teens. Soon after, Hamish has a bicycle accident resulting in hospitalisation and another technological disaster being uncovered.

Hamish and Paula are approaching 40, have teenaged children and have been together almost half of their lives. I am at a time in my life where I can relate to much of that so I found that I could identify with Paula and her situation a little, I could understand some of what is going on in her head at times.

As newlyweds Hamish and Paula had such big plans for the way they envisaged their life together. The scrapbook of holiday destinations, the early morning runs and exercise sessions together of the early years of their relationship, and the healthy libidos they shared. The years rolled on, the kids came along and these things started to fall by the wayside.

Paula threw herself into domesticity and motherhood, making the children her number one priority and not putting as much effort into the marriage as she had beforehand. The children were less than two years apart so the early days were extremely full on. She ran the household, ran the kids around and by the time of the technological disasters was back working part time.

wife on the run

Overwhelmed by the sudden crashing down of her world Paula decides to take some much needed time out and head off on her long dreamed of trip around Australia, without Hamish. She packs up the caravan, the kids and her dad and off they go leaving Hamish recuperating in the hospital.

Wife On The Run is told from both viewpoints so though we get inside Paula’s rage and heartbreak we also get inside Hamish’s head to see how things escalated.

Paula’s time on the road gives her a lot of time for reflection and it forces an end to the precision routine and planning. It means she finally starts to sit back and relax a little, learns to go with the flow. Time to relax often means time to think and leads to self evaluation and this can be a good thing.

This trip ends up teaching everyone some very valuable life lessons as Paula’s dad, Sid, decides that the time away from school doesn’t mean the children should have a break from education and starts them on his life lessons. They spend their time learning independence – cooking, cleaning and socialisation without the benefit of technology.

I did find there to be a bit of predictability in the storyline but a couple of unexpected twists at the end added a new layer to the narrative. Following the storyline I thought I knew where it was going and how it would end but Higgins had some surprises in store which took me a while to fully appreciate.

Seventeen years is a long time to be married and it is easy to fall into a routine of convenience even when it isn’t what you necessarily want. You spend so long together that you take it for granted, you take each other for granted, without even realising it. Life has a rhythm to it and it seems that no-one wants to rock the boat but without great communication who can ever know what’s going on in their partner’s head.

Hamish behaved badly, and managed to justify it to himself, there is no denying that. I found it very difficult to be sympathetic to him and I often wondered if he would have been able to justify it so easily had the shoe been on the other foot. As we saw him take off cross country to track down his family he would begin to redeem himself and then do something stupid to ruin it. All very realistic and I could certainly relate his actions and justifications to people that I know, though thankfully not my husband.

A long term relationship can see you lose a little of your individuality and identity, not always by any means but it’s definitely possible, and that is what happened here but the routine flowed ever forward so that it wasn’t noticed until the crash. Wife On The Run is Paula’s journey back to herself. It was a story that I thoroughly enjoyed and I have to admit that it did make me sit back and think about my relationship a little.

A book that I will be recommending to anyone who enjoys a contemporary read and will have me on the lookout for more by Fiona Higgins.

You can also follow Fiona on her Website and Facebook.

A selection of our lucky readers will be reading Wife On The Run as part of the Beauty and Lace Book Club so I will be interested to see what they have to say about the book.

Please be advised that there may be spoilers contained in the comments below.

23 thoughts on “Book Club: Wife On The Run

  1. Oh boy,,,, will have to get the end of this one there are so many complications in this life, love to read love stories , vampire , ghost , mystery so would love to read and review books

  2. LOVE Michelle’s reviews – have yet to find a book she enjoyed that I didn’t. Michelle has the most fabulous review style, informative so that you want to get the book immediately, but never giving details that will spoil the reading. Anyone finding their own identity is something I applaud and appreciate. Yet another readable offering that sounds great.

  3. I just finished reading the Wife On The Run, and I really enjoyed it.
    Right from the first page, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about the online disaster that had struck the McInnes family.
    The main character, Paula, was so relatable at times that I found myself comparing our almost identical situations.
    The story itself flowed easily, and the characters were for the most part, likeable. I especially loved Sid (Paula’s dad), and Paula.
    Another positive for me was the setting that the book takes you through (throughout Australia). The descriptions of the land and surrounds were beautifully worded and I could feel that I almost there along with them on the journey.
    It was a little predictable in some parts but this didn’t detract from how good the book was.
    I read it within 3 days as I was really interested to see what would happen next. I was glad that the ending wasn’t the typical ‘love conquers everything’ ending as that would’ve been way too boring and predictable!
    May I also just mention the front cover of the book- it is very eye-catching and I really love it!
    I’ve read The Mother’s Group by the same author but have to say that I enjoyed this one a little more (though both are great).
    Overall, I would give this book an 8 out of 10.
    Some parts had me laughing out loud, and others had me feeling really sorry and sad.
    I would highly recommend it. Thank you so much for the opportunity to review this great read.

  4. Wife on the Run by Fiona Higgins is a book about relationships and family, and touches on a number of subjects that it is easy to identify with. They range from “modern day” issues such as inappropriate Facebook postings; the use of internet porn sites; and appropriate social media supervision, to more “universal” issues like dealing with teenage angst and growing up; marital difficulties; the realities of getting older; mid-life self-discovery, and who you can trust (both online and in reality).

    While at first the weaving of all of these themes throughout the story held high promise, and the book’s underlying theme of being able to escape and go “on the run” holds appeal, in the end I found the story line to be quite labored, and a bit like a soap opera, with the outcomes either predictable (the frumpy housewife loses weight and attracts a hot Brazilian Lover) or unconvincing and sensationalized (undercover drug trafficking and police surveillance).

    The characters were also quite clichéd – Paula, the self-sacrificing homemaker mother/wife; Sid, the heart of gold pensioner father who teaches the teenagers life lessons; Hamish the workaholic sexually frustrated husband, and his fair-dinkum aussie best mate, and finally the self absorbed teenagers who suddenly mature while on the road.

    While there were moments of laugh out loud humour and I also enjoyed the descriptions of the family’s Aussie adventures – Melbourne Cup day at the local RSL, karaoke night at an outback pub, being stranded on the Nullabour – on the whole I found the book a bit disappointing, but thank you for giving me the opportunity to review it.

  5. Michelle has done such a great job outlining the story and characters in her review I wont rehash them but let you know my thoughts instead.

    At the start of Wife On The Run I didn’t like this book especially reading the viewpoint from the husband, Hamish, who I really disliked. Actually, if I wasn’t doing a review I probably would have shelved it but luckily things improved a bit as it went along.

    The story improved a little once they were on the road of their caravan adventure although I found the story line quite predictable for about three quarters of the book.

    Luckily there were two twists I didn’t see coming and I do love a twist. One delivered by the school principle regarding the social media incident and the other which was revealed while they watched the news once they were all back home in Melbourne.

    Also a redeemable feature was how Fiona Higgins ended the story. I thoroughly agreed with how everything panned out and would have been so disappointed if it had happened the other way.

    Thank you for the opportunity to review this book.

  6. Wife on the Run, by Fiona Higgins can be summed up in two words for me : Confronting and Unrealistic.

    My conservative, old fashioned upbringing and values refuse to let me be swept along with words I find, at the one time, offensive and confronting. I’m not going to say for one minute that the book isn’t well written – it is – it’s simply the way it was written and my inability to understand most of the characters and their fantasy lives that made it one of my least favourite reads.

    Paula’s world is falling apart as the story opens, for very good reason, when she learns of a Facebook situation involving her daughter that threatens to bring her world, and that of her family, crumbling down. She then needs to come to terms with her marriage about to disintegrate when she learns of her husband’s totally unacceptable online behaviour.

    Paula decides to run away from it all, taking her daughter and son out of school and with her elderly father they set off on a road trip around Australia. Paula does eventually “find herself” – the only part of the book I enjoyed with a satisfactory ending.

    I resisted the urge to skip sections as I take my role as reviewer seriously. I found it irritating that intelligent people could act so irrationally and at times stupidly. 316 pages had been read before I felt that any hint of reality (for me) had been reached, apart from the very beginning. One thing it does, for me, is to make me appreciate the books I find I can “lose myself” in and continue thinking about long after they are finished, many that I keep returning to, loving every word.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity of reading many wonderful books that will stay with me forever. I’m sorry I can’t review Wife on the Run more objectively but I find reading sexually explicit detail, using words and phrases so distasteful to me, something so foreign to me as to be confrontation I prefer not to have.

  7. Thank you for my copy of Wife on the Run to read and review.
    I really loved this book. I felt there were a lot of twists and turns, but they were all kept real.
    Paula ends up on a trip around Australia with her children and Dad. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of places around Australia and thought that was a nice touch. It was lovely how the family all grew from the experience, together and individually. Their roles in the family changed and they were all the teachers at different stages. I found it hard to connect with Hamish, which I hope was the point, as he was hard to like.
    Some aspects of the story were a bit far fetched, but still made me think of what I would do or what I could learn.
    I loved the ending of the story as it was real life and not tied up neatly with a bow.

  8. With so much happening here, I have only just been able to read Wife on the Run in the last few days. Michelle has done a great review of the story so I am just writing my feelings on the book.

    My thoughts on the book are I absolutely loved the front cover and the words “sometimes you have to run away to find your way back home”.

    From the first page I became totally besotted with Paula and her two teenage children and thought she had the perfect marriage until reading further on. I took an instant dislike to Hamish her husband and that stems from having been in a similar relationship like Paula of a marriage just becoming nothing. No excitement anymore, just daily humdrum life.

    The explicit wording of the phone call between Hamish and his acquaintance sort of threw me off the storyline but I persisted with reading as I felt that sometimes you have to read through these things to find out more of the story. Personally, I think it could have been toned down a bit as I felt as if I was reading some kind of porn.

    When Paula finds out about her husband Hamish and his liason with a young girl she has had enough and sets out on a journey around Australia. I did enjoy all the things she did to Hamish before she left though. I loved her elderly father Sid, what a fantastic character and he reminded me so much of my own much loved dad. There were parts of the book that made me laugh and giggle silently because I remember having teenagers and doing exactly as Paula did with her kids. The fun bantering and stirring that you throw at each other. Reading this book, it was like I was in there travelling with them. How lovely driving through places in Australia that I could only dream about at the moment.

    On their journey driving around, many characters would be met in their paths and everyone seemed to be another loved character. I could almost visualise what they looked like. When Paula meets up with the character Marcelo I immediately thought this would end with a new lover and new life. Marcelo seemed to fit in with the family like a glove.

    This book certainly had some twists and turns and I just couldn’t put it down as I wanted to see where everything was leading. Apart from the explicit language at the beginning I have to say, I did enjoy reading this book. Fiona Higgins certainly knows how to hold your attention with her writing and brings her characters to life.

  9. Wife on the Run-definitely a surprise and not what I was expecting. Very well researched as is evident by some of the descriptions of out of the way places, pubs, roadhouses and even the remote waterhole in the Territory.
    The storyline of a comfortable marriage of 17 years and the dramatic fallout of Social Media impacting the lives of all involved from 13 year old Lachie to eldery Sid, Paula’s Dad, and the repercussions that spread out across the whole families life.
    Paula’s decision to go on a road trip was a bit dramatic but definitely was a life changing decision for everyone. The lessons they all learnt were definitely long lasting.
    I found the book very graphic and the language was very forthright and confronting in places. It didn’t faze me but I can totally understand how it would dismay many readers.
    Quite a few unexpected twists and turns and a unexpected ending that I could not predict.
    Thank you for the chance to read this book. I really enjoyed and would recommend it with a warning on the sexually explicit language.

  10. Well I just finished this book and I have to say, it really blind sided me. Looking at the cover and reading the blurb I felt I was in for a so and so read. Once I started reading, I was really surprised. It was a great emotional roller coaster. I started off disliking Paula because of how Hamish was feeling but then started to feel the same towards Hamish with all the dumb things he was doing. It was so good that it wasn’t just a boring, consertive, middle age reader type book. It was fresh and very much written in modern terms (some may find that confronting I guess). I felt the story was rather far fetched though but good books aren’t always meant to be realistic. I liked where the book took me and was sad when it ended. I liked how the book ended as it would of felt wrong if it was the typical happy ending. Overall, I would give this book a 9/10 and will read Fionna’s other book. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

  11. Thanks for the opportunity to review ‘Wife on the Run’.

    Like most good books, this one got me in straight away. Although I am hoping never to have to deal with social media scandals such as this, it is only more probable as each year passes and with two young girls I can only imagine!! Also, I grew up in the eastern suburbs and therefore the setting felt very familiar to me.

    The characters were well developed I thought, although not all likeable or relatable. One of my favourite parts of the book was the armchair travelogue, not that dissimilar from a lap of the country my husband and I plan on taking our kids on in a couple more years. Again, hopefully fewer dramas on our version! I really enjoyed following the family dynamics and seeing everyone grow and develop with their experiences on the road.

    Another quality which I always enjoy in a book is an unexpected twist, which this novel certainly delivers. But importantly, the ending was somewhat believable and thankfully not a stereotypical fairy tale ending.

    Overall, this was a great read and one I would recommend to my friends. It raises a number of important topics and poses questions to ponder. There is nothing better than a well written novel by a local Australian author. I really enjoyed the read and am very appreciative of the opportunity. Thanks Fiona Higgins and Beauty and Lace!

  12. I really enjoyed this novel. Paula is at a bit of a cross road in her life – in middle age, she’s starting to realise that her marriage isn’t all she hoped, her children are growing up enough to challenge her role as nurturer, and she’s noticing how little else she has in her life. A crisis causes her to do what we’ve all dreamed of sometimes – run away!

    The biggest strength of this novel is that there’s a little bit of all of us in Paula – unsure about choices made in the past, fearful of some aspects of the future, not entirely sure she’s happy with her life. We’ve all been there, even if only briefly. And although her “run away” solution isn’t one most of us could seriously take on, her self exploration and serious re-thinking of everything she’s been taking for granted is. This is realistic and fascinating.

    A lot of people will empathise with Paula. Some of her adventures on the road are perhaps a little far out, but much of it will strike a chord with people. I enjoyed sharing her journey, and having a bit of a think about my own choices along the way. Highly recommended – vivid characters, an interesting story, and some honest examination ofchoices, parenthood and marriage.

  13. I loved it – and this was no surprise because I loved ‘The Mothers’ group” too. Fiona Higgins knows how to keep us guessing what could / will happen next. I loved the trip around Australia and the adventures they had on the way – including the life lessons that Grandad though up for the children. So important in life and sometimes forgotten to be taught to our children. The use of Technology and the changing of habits during the story was well thought out. I can see we cannot totally dismiss it – but it is nice to put it away and talk and to realise that it can get you into trouble.
    I was waiting for the twist at the end but didn’t make the correct guess so I thank Fiona Higgins for challenging me with that.
    I loved all of the characters – Grandad in particular. I think he would have made an excellent travelling partner and what a great way to bond the 3 generations.
    Thanks for the opportunity to read and give feedback – will certainly be recommending it to everyone.

  14. Oh my goodness. I really, really, really enjoyed reading this book and found that everytime I had to put it down i would keep thinking about it and wanting to get back to it.
    I loved the fact that its told from both sides so you see what Paula thinks and how she feels and then you also see how her husband feels and reacts.
    Its interesting how Hamish convinces himself that what he gets up to on the internet is ok because its not really cheating. Interesting that someone can say something is ok when they wouldnt be happy if it was their partner doing the exact same thing. Reading this book lead me to discuss these things with others and I found I talked about the book often and read bit and pieces from it for discussion.

    I very much love this book and would suggest it as a great Summer read. Perhaps not something that I would feel comfortable reading on a bus or plane as there are parts that are x rated and if I had a little old lady next to me that might glance over and see what i was reading it would make me uncomfortable but a great poolside book.
    I loved Paula and her kids and I liked Hamish also but couldnt bush aside what he did as being ok.
    I suggest you give it a read and see what you think.

  15. Wife on the run….. Who has never thought of doing this?

    The book was a little risqué but I think it needed to be to get the actual feeling of being free and finding herself. This book was confronting in terms of a long term relationship with kids, social media an technology. This book explored the “what would you do, if it happened to you” theory….. Very easy to read and understand the emotions of a wife at the bitter end. A very good read with different perspectives and the emotions felt. Well worth the time to read.

  16. Wife on the Run:= interesting read.

    While I enjoyed reading the book and it was well put and extremely descriptive,- sometimes to the point where I didn’t think it was necessary, there were times that I thought, perhaps that not what normally would happen.

    I also found myself a little bit jealous of Paula, in the fact that she could escape her “troubles” but again I didn’t think that was quite the reaction most people would take.

    The flow of the book worked really well, it didn’t jump around and I didn’t get lost at all, I enjoyed different perspectives of the characters and like I already mentioned, descriptive! Loved Sid, thought he was a most inventive character and written extremely well. Not too much, just enough to get an insight into him.

    All in all thankyou for the letting me read Wife on the run, I just wont be passing this one onto my 15 year old daughter to read. 🙂

    Cheers Katrina

  17. This was such a beautiful book to read, after all who doesn’t love a happy ever after. Fiona Higgins really captured her characters especially Paula and bought them to life on paper. I think as a mum, we all have a bit of Paula in us making this book easy to relate to. Speaking from experience it is easy to forget that we are not just mothers and that there is life for us outside the walls of our home, and not just school runs, cleaning and cooking.

    Grandpa Sid was a much needed to character in the book as it prompted Paula to relax and become not just a mother but a person. I also loved Frank and I must admit I giggled out loud when I read about Hamish swimming in Croc territory
    I’m glad that Paula took the courage to leave Hamish in the end however the ending was just a little too unrealistic with Sid handing over all his winnings. It just didn’t jibe with me that that would ever actually happen and that Hamish wouldn’t lay claim even after the divorce was final.

    I would gladly read more novels from Fiona Higgins, in fact I plan to track down a copy of Mothers group for my next read.

  18. Thank you for giving me the chance to read this book.

    This book didn’t completely grab me in at first but as I kept going it suddenly seemed to draw me in and hold me there.
    I think it was about the time they left on their caravan holiday that the book started to change style and bring a bit of fun into the story.
    The travels begin and it made me laugh as I remembered the caravan holidays we went on every year as a kid. (I wondered if the author did too).
    Sid being the Casanova in the family was such a fun read as none of us think of our fathers are like that but they are only human too.
    The bond that the children develop with their mum is such a real story line on its own that it does make you stop and think of how much closer parents and children could be without the distraction of technology.
    The people they met along the way in their journey from Melbourne to Darwin were a great mix of fun and realistic people. I’m sure there is a real life Brenda, Linda and Rhonda out there somewhere.
    This book had me laughing along at the fun adventures and loving the bond between father and daughter and grandfather and grandchildren. It was lovely to see a story show their strengths and their weaknesses.
    Marcelo was a great character and it was a very interesting way to have the story of his end. When I got to the end of the book I laughed and thought how the way it turned out that that would be my luck too. lol
    In the end I really loved this story and would recommend it to anyone. It is a beautiful Aussie story and you will fall in love with the family and admire Paula’s strength.

  19. Thank you for the opportunity to review this book.

    I found Wife on the Run a truly entertaining read from start to finish. I loved the storyline because it is a fantasy many women occasionally dream of even if only for a second or two. It is a contemporary story with issues, such as, facebook cyber bullying that many can relate to. Living in a world run by technology I can only dream of the no technology rule for my children.

    I admired Paula for having the courage and strength to break free and grandpa Sid for proving that senior citizens can have just as much fun if not more than the young ones. The charming story explored family relationships in an entertaining way that made me chuckle.

    I definitely recommend this great novel that takes you on a unique journey around Australia with inspiring characters and adventures around every corner.

  20. Firstly a big thanks to Beauty and Lace again for the opportunity to review this book.

    I was disappointed to find that I did not really make a connection with the storyline from the start. As a younger woman with no children / not in a long term relationship at present, I felt that it was quite difficult to relate to and did not get drawn in.

    Of course the concept of stepping away from your life to assist with finding yourself is something that most people will think about at some stage of their life, so I found this portrayed a powerful and strong woman in Paula’s character for the decisions she makes. I enjoyed the character of Sid and his character truly did bring a bit of spark to the storyline.

    I did enjoy the familiarity of some of the locations, as it is a Aussie author.
    Overall I think this book was not usually something that I would pick up, however I am going to pass it onto my mum who I really believe will enjoy and relate to it.

  21. I found it very easy to get completely lost in this book. The story was realistic, the characters relatable, and as I read I found myself thinking that I would have done the same things as many of the characters. I despised Hamish but I enjoyed learning more about him and actually started to feel a little sorry for him. I too pined for Marcelo, while also willing Paula to stay away!
    On a bad day in my house, I often dream of running away as Paula did, and wonder how hubby would get by, would he come looking for me, etc.
    I think for me the most disappointing thing about this book was when it ended. It was one of the few books that upon finishing it I had to stop and think “Hmm. What do I do now?! I was enjoying that little adventure!!”
    A great read!! Thank you for the chance to read and review!!

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