Husbands & Other Lovers by Jane Varley – Review

Watch and Listen the Review

Coming across several books, the first time I read a book by Jane Elizabeth Varley and I found it a bit disappointing. No wonder this was my very first book by Varley and the experience was a complete “No .. No”.

Okay. So, this book has a fascinating story at first. There’s two brothers in England with a handsome appearance with hell lot of money and with their prospective careers. James Agnew and his wife Susanna seem to have a happy and wealthy life but inside it is seen that James is an alcoholic and their eight year old marriage is the brink of divorce. Furthermore, it’s Susanna’s second marriage.

Husbands & Other Lovers by Jane Varley - Review

On the other hand, Robert Agnew who is James’ younger brother is a well known businessman and has a psychotic personality. He has a daughter of eight and he is a divorcee. Throughout the novel we see how he had abused his wife and two other girlfriends with his sexual fantasies. Robert is also represented as a pornographic man with unusual bipolar symptoms.

So, the story takes off with a good note where we can see Susanna loving James so much and she is trying her best to handle her husband’s addiction and save her marriage. And we sede Tabitha Robert’s first wife who is trying her best to win custody of her eight year old daughter and she is fighting for her freedom. She wants to move to USA and settle there with her love Theo.

The story takes surprising twists and turns when we find James falling for his own brother’s girlfriend Jasmine. He lies with his caring wife and gets indulged in what we call ‘extra marital affair’.

Husbands & Other Lovers by Jane Varley - Review

Then this story seems too tedious. On the third part, it is seen that James divorces Susanna for Jasmine which is so ridiculous. Wait, How is it fair for a man to divorce the wife is so loving?

And there were so many unanswered queries throughout this novel. Why was Robert so disruptive and psychotic? While his own brother James had a good and warm, sociable nature? Weren’t they in same household since birth?

In addition, it seems the author totally forgot the character ‘Susanna’ who was one of the main characters in the first half of the novel. There’s no mention of Susanna at the last 45 pages of the novel which is not so good.

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Moreover, Robert who abused women is a big time womanizer and makes pornographic films and CDs isn’t bashed into the jail. It would have been better if he was punished legally. I was really hoping to either have him killed or imprisoned but sadly none happened.

Husbands & Other Lovers by Jane Varley - Review

Likewise, the character Jasmine seemed too weak and confusing. She seems to be yearning for men her entire life. She is portrayed as the weakling, the timid character who goes around laying down with every married or divorced men. First Robert and then James even she was well aware of the fact of James’ marriage. She seemed very desperate throughout this novel to have a night stand with James and is the most disliked character.

Husbands & Other Lovers by Jane Varley - Review

My Verdict

So, this novel is seen to have made effort on bringing a true picture of how rich couples are coping these days. It’s a fine start however the story dragged and I found it incomplete in many cases. I wanted James and Susanna to be together back again because there was not much of ‘to be divorced’ issue between them.

So, my final verdict is a C+ because of the chaotic nature of how easy marriages are shown to have broken. It is shown like a minute before the character says “Whoa, I got married!” and minutes after she complains “It’s Over”.

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About the Author
Sonisha Khatri Basnet
Sonisha is an occasional and valued writer at She likes reading, discovering new places and playing games. Sonisha has extensive interests and qualifications in sociology, psychology and health service management.

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