Baffled and irritated: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

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E G Logan

Full Member
Nov 11, 2018
Liguria, Italy
@AgentPete -- I'd be interested in your view

New marketing tool: taking the thrills out of a thriller

I have just finished My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. My irritation concerns not the novel itself -- a dark thriller with many plot twists and 'false dawns' -- but the introductory comments in which Richard and Judy [for non-UK readers, former daytime TV hosts now involved with an eponymous nation-wide Book Club aimed mostly at reading groups] 'tell us whey they love' My Lovely Wife. The novel is one of 'their' book club selections for this month.

IMHO, the strength of a thriller of this sort comes mainly from the surprise and shock/horrror of the plot twists. (Also the characterisation and the pace, but pls. take those as givens here.)

BUT, in telling us 'why they love' this book -- their comments are on the first right-hand page and the one following, right before the text begins -- 'Richard' and 'Judy' drive a bus through the plot premise and a couple of very important twists.

On the very first page, in the second para, 'Judy' reveals the basic plot premise, which was intended to be secret and to unfold gradually. In the third para she alludes to an important plot twist. In 'Richard's' introduction he spells out matter-of-factly the plot twist that ends chapter 1. Not hints at, but spells out.

The importance of the chapter 1 twist is stressed in the puff on the back cover (the first, arguably the most prominent one) from Jane Corry (Sunday Times bestseller). She said: "The twist at the end of the first chapter made me read through the night."

Did no one put those two things together?

As a paid-for reader I am seriously pi**d off. As a follower of the publishing industry, I am totally baffled. I have seen other Richard&Judy choices that did not have an introduction of this sort.
Whose idea was this? What were they thinking? Did anyone senior pass this text?

The only reason these introductions didn't put me off buying the book, never mind reading it, was I didn't read them until I was on a plane... As it is, they spoilt the experience.
I try not to read any blurbs. Easier with 'classic' fiction you already know you're going to enjoy. More tricky if you're looking for a new novel. This seems bonkers. It should have been at the end maybe?
That would drive me nuts. I wonder was it simply a case of the person designing the cover and adding in the blurb bits hadn't read it and didn't realise what the hell they were doing? All very shoddy though...
Sounds like a synopsis. Bit daft for a mystery. Okay for an agent to read but give it to the reader??? Dah
Ooo! This plays right into one of my pet peeves about e-books. So many of them have pages and pages of reviews before you ever get to the book. Drives me nuts! If I'm scanning the beginning to see if I want to read it, I want to see the book, not some random person's opinion of it. If I've already bought the book, I want to read the book, not reviews of it! Argh! And if those reviews include spoilers? WTF?
I want to read the book, not reviews of it
Related, but not the same issue.
When I have an eBook and want to look up the blurb ... it's not part of the book and I have to go online to find it. As I often download a book a while before I read it, I'd like to see it at the start of the book (fiction), as long as it's short.

However, I have started to notice that reviews and TOCs and other fluff has started being allocated to the end of an eBook (I like the TOCs at the front of non-fiction, so I can see what I'm letting myself in for). Maybe readers are letting it be known they want to see the story before the hard sell.

The spoilers shouldn't be there. It would annoy me (although I'm not sure I read the guff - if they have at least a scene of the story, that's what will get me in, not what other people think of it).
@AgentPete -- I'd be interested in your view

Couldn't agree more :( This is entirely the publishers’ fault. Someone in editoprial or marketing is asleep at the wheel. But… the author, too, should have rung an alarm bell when they saw the copy.

Might be worth dropping them a line, as a reader.

This sort of thing makes me pull my hair out...
I have known 'classic' books to have forewords which give away a lot of the plot, but I can't say I've ever seen it in a contemporary novel.

In this case I assume the thinking was that if anyone picked the book up in a shop, they'd be enticed to buy it from Richard & Judy's appraisal of it, although it doesn't make sense to give the plot away. Besides a good opening should hook you into reading on.

I usually skip over any novel intros, I don't really see the point of them - gimme the story!
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