Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

published 2017

Sweet Revenge

I decide it’s time to step things up a gear and so, on Saturday morning (still on my ‘course of massages’. You’d really think I’d be relaxed enough by now), Myra meets me in Oxford Street and we do something I haven’t done in at least seven years. We buy nice clothes. Actually, strictly speaking, that’s not true. I’ve bought the occasional pretty outfit but I’ve always gone for the big and shapeless variety. I have pitched a small but decorative marquee over myself and called it dressing up. Today my new thirteen-stone-something self is looking for clothes that fit. That flatter….

I buy a cute gingham summer dress with a fitted top and no sleeves (no sleeves!) and an A-line skirt, some cut-off cargo pants and a couple of tops that actually fit me…

On Tuesday morning I blow-dry my hair and put on the gingham dress. I have to wear it with trainers because I’m still determined to walk everywhere but, actually the combination looks quite cute, even if I say so myself.

commentary: I read Jane Fallon’s Strictly Between Us a year ago, and really enjoyed it, so was happy to get a review copy of her new book. This one too was very readable and entertaining, and went down like ice-cream.

These are the opening lines:
I want to make my husband fall back in love with me. 

Let me explain. This isn't an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven't been reading articles in old women's magazines. 'Twenty ways to keep your man'. 
That couldn't be further from the truth. 
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he'll care. He won't just think, 'Oh good'. 

I want it to hurt.

Narrator Paula has found out that Robert – a successful actor – is having an affair with his co-star. And she is angry, and looking for revenge. She has an elaborate plan, which includes a makeover for herself – and also making a friend of the femme fatale actress, Saskia. She will soon involve the cheated other husband Josh in her plots. From reading the previous Fallon book, I guessed there would be some twists and surprises, and perhaps changes of viewpoint, along the way, and that maybe everything wouldn’t be exactly as it seemed. That was certainly the case, and although there are only so many variations on the theme, Fallon uses them cleverly.

Along the way there is a very funny and convincing picture of modern life – of London teenagers, of the drama of A Levels, and of the give-and-take of a longstanding marriage, with many witty remarks and recognizable moments.

Sweet Revenge 2
David Essex in his heyday
Fallon is also very funny about the long-running TV drama Robert is in (not supposed to call it a soap…), Farmer Giles, sounding something like The Archers transferred to television. He plays an antique dealer, whose favourite outfit is
a cross between Lovejoy and the Davids Dickenson and Essex. I could just imagine the first costume meeting. What do antiques dealers wear on TV? Dapper but eccentric with a hint of whimsy. That’ll do. No point in trying to be original.

And there is also the question of his big scene in
a set that looks like a back alley where someone might be murdered and not discovered for days (where this is meant to be in our sleepy fictional village is unclear. Everyone stopped caring about the geography years ago).
I very much like the way she can switch your sympathies among the characters – there aren’t outright baddies and goodies, and nobody is too pure of heart. Her characters resemble real people with their faults and kindnesses.

Sweet Revenge didn’t make me gasp and laugh out loud quite as much as the previous one, but I’m certainly up for reading more Fallon, and intend to investigate her back catalogue.


  1. What an interesting twist, Moira! And I like the writing style just from the little bit that you've shared. Sounds like some conniving is going on, and that can add to a story. It also sounds as though there's wit in the story, too - always a plus.

    1. It was a fun read, Margot, and she's as good as a crime writer at planting clues and springing surprises!

  2. I do like that beginning to the book. But I don't think I will add this author to my list.

    1. It was good fun, but probably not for you when you have so much else to read!


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