A male writer of chick flicks for men is how I have seen Tony Parsons described, I prefer to think of him as a male writer of Contemporary Fiction which can be enjoyed by both male and female readers. I happen to enjoy his take on relationships and have read four other novels of his, although this is the first time I have reviewed one here. It is unusual to read novels about such emotional issues as families and parenthood that are written by men and this author does it well. This is may not be his best work but it is four years since I last read one and I found this much as I have his previous novels an easy read. Not great literature but that was not what I was looking for and I do not think that is what his writing is about, it is relaxing entertainment. The descriptions of modern day Shanghai and other parts of China were fascinating, he describes well how easy it can be for a Westerner to only see the good side and forget how there are many millions of Chinese still suffering in appalling conditions.
Relationships are hard in the fast moving world of expat society in Asia and this is where Bill Holden, a young London based lawyer decided to take his wife Becca and four year old daughter to try and fast track his career. They find themselves out of their depth in the city of Shanghai, where there are such contrasts of wealth and poverty.
The family finds themselves living in an apartment building where newly rich Chinese business men set up their second wives that their wives do not know about. Or if they do it is best left unsaid, they are of course not official wives but the I guess the modern day version of Concubines. Bill meets one of the neighbours JinJin Li who is kept in this way and it is inevitable that when his wife and daughter return to London for a period that he finds himself spending time with her! He thinks she deserves better than the millionaire who keeps her but how can he really expect to be able to give her anything better, he already has a wife and young family he claims to love. This part of the story does feel rather weak but then I thought both Bill and Becca were rather pathetic in that they seemed unable to make clear choices.
A story of obsession and sex, romance and love in society that is undergoing great changes. If you enjoy contemporary romantic fiction then then I think you would find it interesting to read this novel written from a male point of view and the East meets West storyline also creates a different angle.
An interview with Tony Parsons about his writing and in particular My Favourite Wife.
Tony Parsons is an award winning journalist, broadcaster and best-selling novelist. Born in Romford, Essex, on November 6th 1953, he was the only child of working class parents. He spent the first five years of his life in a rented flat above a shop in Essex, before his family moved to their own house in Billericay, Essex.
His father was a former Royal Naval Commando who won the Distinguished Service Medal in World War Two. After the war, he worked as a lorry driver, market trader and greengrocer. His mother was a school dinner lady. Parsons attended a grammar school but dropped out when he was 16 years old and worked in a series of low-paid, unskilled menial jobs.
Parsons married fellow New Musical Express journalist Julie Burchill they have one son together and divorced in 1984. Parsons became a single parent caring for their 4-year-old son. The experience of being a young man caring for a small child was to later influence his best-selling novel, Man and Boy. Parsons' father died of cancer in 1987 and his mother died of cancer in 1999, just weeks before the publication of Man and Boy. The book is dedicated to Parsons' mother.
In 1992, Parsons married his Japanese wife, Yuriko. They have one daughter, Jasmine. He now lives with his wife and daughter in London.
The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.
Goodreads - Author Profile Amazon - Author Profile Tony Parsons - Wikipedia
My Favourite Wife - YouTube
I have chosen to read this title as the letter M for The A - Z Book Challenge which I have decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I have a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, it will be interesting to see how far I can get before I get stuck. You can follow my progress here.