First published in 2016
My rating: 2.5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review!
The Short Of It:
I was a little disappointed in this book, about the consequences of rekindling of a decades-old love affair. The writing was great -- and the cover is gorgeous -- but the plot fell flat for me.
The Long Of It:
Mentions of Paris, London and art are just about enough to get me to pick up a book, and when you add in a pretty cover like this one, it seals the deal. Unfortunately, "The Blue Bath" didn't live up to my expectations. You know you're in trouble when you start skimming halfway through.
Kat Lind is a fortyish wife and mother living in London, and she has a secret: she occasionally allows herself to pull out and savor memories of a passionate love affair she had with a young painter when she was studying abroad in Paris at 19, a romance that, for some reason, ended badly. Twenty years later, chance reunites Kat and Daniel, and thus begins chapter two of their relationship.
Unfortunately for Kat, she's married to a well-known businessman and they have a young son. And it turns out that Daniel has been painting sensuous pictures of 19-year-old Kat for the past two decades -- now on display at a London gallery -- and she's terrified someone will put two and two together and uncover all her secrets. The end.
Well, not quite. There's a little more meat to the plot than that, but not enough to ever really pique my interest. Stories of infidelity and old flames rekindled are nothing new, and I didn't find anything special about this one to set it apart. Worse, I never warmed up to Kat and I really didn't care how things worked out for her. In fact, I sometimes disliked her. Not to get on a high horse here, but as a wife who has managed to avoid cheating on her husband, I need some incentive to empathize with an adulteress who sometimes comes off as self-absorbed and needy, and I never learned enough about Kat to relate to her.
Harsh, I know, but when you have a character-driven novel like this one, it's important for the reader to feel a connection with the protagonist and that just wasn't there for me; I wish the author had spent more time delving into Kat's life, aside from her relationship with Daniel. I read about her for 320 pages but never really got to know her. I also wanted more information about how Daniel spent the last two decades; for instance, references were made to scars on his wrists but never expounded upon. And it's alluded to that Kat's marriage is on the rocks, but the author never tells us why.
Mary Waters-Sayer is definitely in command of the English language and her writing was beautiful. I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel, especially the Paris passages. The bare bones of "The Blue Bath" definitely had potential. Unfortunately it just wasn't enough to support a rather uninspired plot.