The First Wife by Emily Barr

Lily Button was abandoned by her feckless parents when she was very young. Her grandparents took her in, and gave her a stable, traditional upbringing in the Cornish countryside. But as Lily grew up her grandparents became increasingly frail, and the balance shifted. Lily had to look after them.

When her grandparents died Lily found herself alone in the world. And she found herself homeless. The family home was heavily mortgaged, there were debts to pay, and Lily was left with nothing.

She was devastated, and so was I. Because Lily was lovely, and she had charmed me from the very first page.

Lily realised that she had to move on, had to make a new life for herself. She moved to Falmouth, the nearest town. She finds a friend, and he helps her to find lodgings with a local family and a job with a cleaning agency.

And so Lily takes her first steps into a new future. It was lovely to watch her making friends, making plans to go to college, and simply enjoying life in a lovely seaside town. She realised that her life held so many possibilities.

I was happy watching Lily moving through life, until she took what I was sure was a wrong turn.

One of her cleaning jobs was at the home of local celebrity couple, Harry and Sarah Summers. They had a lovely home, a wonderful life, and they had taken an interest in the young woman who wasn’t your typical “woman who does.”

Harry and Sarah went to Spain on holiday and Harry came back alone, a grieving widower. Lily’s natural compassion pulled her towards Harry, and his charm drew her in. A relationship blossomed.

I worried. Lily was terribly inexperienced, and I had a very bad feeling about Harry. There was nothing concrete, but there were a lot of worrying signs.

The story dipped a little here. I missed Lily’s old life, and I didn’t believe that Harry would give her the happy ending she deserved.

I was relieved when Lily began to have doubts, when she decided to take a trip to Barcelona to Spain to find out just what had happened there.

The story moved up a gear, and turned into a thriller. What happened was a little predictable but I didn’t mind, because it was right.

I very nearly got the ending I wanted – it was just a little too quick and the loose ends were tied up a little too neatly.

Along the way I met some lovely, and believable, characters. I saw some wonderful places. And I enjoyed some very nice sub-plots that really complemented the main storyline.

All of the details were right.

There were elements of chick lit, strands of a psychological thriller, and echoes of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Emily Barr made them work together, and I have to say that she writes very well.

I was charmed by her heroine, and by her story.

11 responses

    • Most of Emily Barr’s books mix thriller with chick lit in some way. She does it very well. I didn’t say too much about that side of the plot because i didn’t want to give too much away.

    • There’s a lot of it about! Some parts of this of this book are very like Rebecca but others that are totally different – inspiration rather than pastiche.

      And Falmouth is on the south coast of Cornwall, whereas DDM lived on the north coast, which is quite different …

  1. Just finished this at the weekend and loved it too. It’s the second of Emily Barr’s books that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed so I am now looking out for her earlier books.
    Can’t comment on the resemblence to ‘Rebecca’ as that is the only one of Daphne du Maurier’s books that I still haven’t read!

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