Marjorie’s husband, Brandon, has passed away suddenly at the age of fifty-four. While Marjorie and Brandon were married for many years (Marjorie is approaching middle age and married Brandon at eighteen years of age), the marriage was not a happy one. Brandon was not abusive, but he just was not a warm person. He never showed much emotion, and while Marjorie wanted more out of the relationship, she did not have the self-esteem to do anything about her marriage.
As Marjorie is going through Brandon’s office, she sees a picture of a young woman. Brandon’s estate attorney informs Marjorie that she inherited a cottage in a small town in England. Marjorie puts two and two together: Brandon bought the cottage for this woman. Understandably, Marjorie feels betrayed by Brandon, which leads to a trip the small town in England to get to the bottom of things.
Marjorie’s intention is to put the cottage up for sale. She needs the money, and she is seething that Brandon’s lover has been living there all these years for free. However, when Marjorie arrives at the cottage, she is gruffly “greeted” by what turns out to be Brandon’s daughter. Apparently, Brandon’s lover died several years ago, and Brandon actually met Marjorie after he split with this woman. Now Marjorie is faced with a predicament – whether to “evict” Brandon’s daughter and her family, or to get to know the family. Marjorie is childless and has always wanted a family of her own, so she is tempted by the three step-grandchildren and the fact that she is technically is their step-grandmother.
The English Wife is an enjoyable read, although it progresses at a relatively predictable clip. Marjorie befriends some locals and even develops a love interest in the small town, although she is hesitant to become involved with anyone at this point in her life. The English Wife is a story about relationships and Marjorie’s personal growth following her husband’s death. Clearly, it is the journey, not the ending, that is the best part of this book.