The Infidelity Diaries
Allen & Unwin
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Zara lives in Sydney and works as a biographer, producing several commissioned works a year. She’s been married to Sergei, a Russian, for the past 22 years and they have no children. Whilst on holiday, they seem to ‘chance’ running into the wife of the brother of a friend. Zara’s radar goes off immediately – she can tell Caitt is dismayed to see her with Sergei and her predatory behaviour suggests that she has a plan and it involves Zara’s husband.
When they return to their home in Sydney they find themselves drawn into Caitt’s social circle, which enables her to get ever closer to Sergei. He doesn’t seem to see the strangeness of her behaviour and the worst of it is left up to Zara to experience as she watches helplessly as Caitt draws Sergei deeper into her web.
Zara’s sister Lili lives in London, working as a property agent. She’s been married to Will, a musician, for 10 years and the two of them have been developing and renovating their dream home in Turkey. Lili has poured so much into the property, lovingly sourcing the furnishings and funding the project. Then she discovers that Will is having an affair with a Russian pastry cook and as she investigates, she realises that Will’s plan goes much deeper than she realised and Lili stands to lose much more than just her marriage.
Their other sister Eve lives in Shanghai with her husband Henry and around the time that Zara and Lili are struggling in their own relationships, she discovers her husband’s affair with Chrystal, his ex-PA. She leaves their apartment to stay with a friend and whilst there, has her eyes opened up to a whole new world.
The Infidelity Diaries is three separate stories, each detailing the experience of one of three sisters as they discover that their marriage is not all that it seemed. For Zara, it’s the bold threat of a predator. For Lili, it’s a plan that is far more complicated than it first appears. And for Eve, it’s the realisation that something has been going on behind her back for a long time.
Zara’s story was first and I found it interesting for several different reasons, primarily because of Zara’s response to the threat. She does a lot of watching and waiting and trying to find ways to justify Caitt’s behaviour when really, there aren’t any – it is exactly what it looks like to her. Sergei it seems, cannot (or will not) see it and there is a past indiscretion of Zara’s in their marriage which I think has a significant bearing on Sergei’s inability to see what is going on, or inability to care. What I found amazing was how little Zara communicated to Sergei. I have to admit, I do find the character of the female predator a bit of a cliched one and Caitt seems to tick every single box there. Her two sides (one for Sergei, one for Zara) were almost laughable to read about at times and it didn’t show Zara in much light that she just kind of sat back and observed as Caitt wound Sergei around her little finger through a combination of lunches, drinks after work, many phone calls and emails. I think it said a lot about their marriage, this lack of real communication of their feelings and gave me the feeling that things were not resolved from the incident years ago. I found Sergei sullen and resentful, deliberately secretive and willfully ignorant. I enjoyed their story, despite the lack of affirmative action from Zara but I did find the ending a bit of a let down.
Lili’s was a darker story, one with more sinister motives – not from the ‘other woman’ but from her husband himself. I think I enjoyed this story the most, because of Lili’s actions. At first she’s concerned about her husband having an affair but when she realises the full extent of his plans and the repercussions for her, Lili swings into action and she is clearly one woman that you do not want to mess with. Her plans come together beautifully and I found her quite admirable actually. Lili is what I would call pro-active! I think in a lot of ways, Lili would be a role model for women who have found themselves a victim of a man like Will. She turns the tables and she’s sneaky about it but it’s clever and I found myself the most invested in this story. The tension was done really well, I found this story the most satisfying of the three.
I have to admit, the final story baffled me just a little bit. For me, it really lacked a backstory, which the other two stories gave us and it seemed a little pointless. I didn’t warm to Eve and I found her stumbling into this new world a bit weird and really out of left field. It felt like it had been thrown in because stories including that have been rather popular of late. It did nothing for me, it didn’t feel like it flowed particularly well or even made that much sense and the ending was….hmm. I think it was supposed to really shock me but it felt far too orchestrated and I felt too jaded to even really care. Perhaps if that was the first story, it’d have been more of a surprise but so many things had happened by the time I reached the end of the third book that it just felt like one more thing in a hugely long list. The third story was disappointing, which is unfortunate after enjoying the first two.
All in all, I did enjoy this although for me it reads more like a collection of three separate stories, rather than characters linked together by family. They don’t cross paths that often in the books and when they do, it’s glossed over more than elaborated. The story bringing them together is told differently in each book but really I’m not overly sure it was a necessary part of it.
Book #98 of 2015