Tony Parsons is one of the first few authors whom I liked when I started venturing into fiction of the serious kind (“serious” here means fiction which are not of the Sweet Valley High genre). I was very impressed and not to say, touched by his Man and Boy. Sad to say, I did not enjoy the books which he subsequently wrote, as much. Man and Wife was alright, but I couldn’t relate to the two books which came after that.
Therefore, when I picked up My Favourite Wife at the neighbourhood book rental store, I knew that I was taking a risk.
Set in the scenic and historic city of Shanghai, My Favourite Wife is a story of love and reality of marriage. At least that’s what I think it is. It attempts to look at extra marital affairs from the male perspective and I couldn’t help but to feel that it was trying to justify why husbands stray. The fact that it is being set in Shanghai doesn’t really help. In fact, it gives me this feeling of stereotyping the city, the country and its people.
Of course, there’s a degree of truth to the whole book. The places have been well-researched, and it impressed me that the famous Yu Yuan zig-zag bridge has been described with utmost accuracy. The Bund and Peace Hotel was repeatedly mentioned in the book and these two places has immense historical value.
All said, I do not feel any empathy towards the protagonist who is struggling to keep his marriage intact and at the same time loving another woman. In fact, at one point, I felt like screaming at Bill Holden, “You idiot!” All in all, reading this book did make me ponder upon the sanctity of marriage and the one thing which would be necessary to make it work — faith.