Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

4.5 4
by Wolff

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Faith Martin's sunny life just got a little bit cloudy . . .

Faith Martin, AM-UK!'s face of the morning weather, is used to delivering the forecast. But this surprisingly unglam celeb is not used to being told the forecast — especially when it concerns her own marriage. After years of wedded bliss, there isn't much about her husband, Peter, that


Faith Martin's sunny life just got a little bit cloudy . . .

Faith Martin, AM-UK!'s face of the morning weather, is used to delivering the forecast. But this surprisingly unglam celeb is not used to being told the forecast — especially when it concerns her own marriage. After years of wedded bliss, there isn't much about her husband, Peter, that this thirty-five-year-old doesn't know. In fact, her quiet family life seems almost too comfy . . . until a casual remark from Faith's ultra-glam best friend plants a seed of doubt that takes root and strangles all sense of Faith's contentedness. Faith begins to assess everything about her mild life — snippets of conversation, Peter's surprising new look, the attentions of a handsome new acquaintance and the small fire burning inside her, licking at the possibility that, out of the blue, her life is about to change . . .

For every woman who's let a breeze of a doubt about her lover's fidelity turn into a full-blown hurricane. . . .

Isabel Wolff was born in Warwickshire and studied English at Cambridge. Her first novel was the bestselling romantic comedy, The Trials of Tiffany Trott, which was followed by another bestseller, The Making of Minty Malone. Out of the Blue is her third novel. She lives in London.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
People say the wife is always the last to know, and that's certainly the case for Faith Martin. Her husband's infidelity comes as a complete surprise, although it has been six months since Peter last shared her bed. Faith didn't suspected a thing when Peter began buying snazzy new suits and spending late nights at the office trying to please his demanding new boss. But when she finally stops believing all the excuses, she's furious…until she starts noticing how a handsome young theatre designer is looking at her. If her marriage is dead, she really does need to get on with her life. But perhaps the single life isn't what Faith wants after all…. Reading this humorous, intimate picture of the ups and downs in the life of a woman trying to start over is like chatting with one of your girlfriends -- the one whose love life always seems just a little more complex, interesting, intense, and funnier than your own. British author Isabel Wolff's breezy, witty style has made her an international bestseller, and Out of the Blue is sure to enamor readers on this side of the Atlantic as well. Sue Stone
Wolff handles the breakdown of a marriage with warmth and humor.
Woman's Journal
If you're looking for a comedy that's a bit dark around the edges, this won't disappoint.
Publishers Weekly
It's stormy weather with a sprinkle of infidelity on the horizon for weather forecaster Faith Martin in British author Wolff's third romantic comedy (after The Making of Minty Malone). Faith is a happily married, blissfully dowdy mother of two, celebrating her 15th anniversary with her devoted husband, Peter. But a chance comment from Faith's childhood friend Lily, the glamorous editor of the up-and-coming magazine Moi, sets her wondering if maybe her life is just as dull as it is secure-and sends her into a tailspin of suspicion and paranoia as she convinces herself that Peter is cheating on her. As it turns out, she's right. Guided by the dubious advice of Lily, as well as by her psychoanalysis-spewing teenage daughter, Katie, Faith throws herself into the dating game and shakes up her ho-hum routine. A handsome graphic designer has her in his sights. Suddenly Peter is begging for forgiveness. All looks rosy, but has Faith bitten off more than she can chew? Though sometimes genuinely funny, the dialogue-driven narrative is thick with groan-out-loud puns-a hangover is "the wrath of grapes" and a boring man is "a clear case of mistaken nonentity." The odd plot twists feel contrived, and Faith herself is so clueless that she can be painful to watch. Many will doubtless identify with her predicament, but Faith's exaggerated ditziness takes some of the fun out of this light fare. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Wolff handles the breakdown of a marriage with warmth and humor." -The Times

"If you're looking for a comedy that's a bit dark around the edges, this won't disappoint." -Woman's Journal

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Red Dress Ink
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Read an Excerpt


It's funny how things can suddenly change, isn't it? They can alter in a heartbeat, in a breath. I think that's what happened tonight because, well, I don't really know how to explain it except to say that nothing feels quite the same. The evening started out well. In fact it felt like quite a success. There we were, in the restaurant, enjoying ourselves. Talking and laughing. Eating and drinking. Just eight of us. Just a small party. I wanted to cheer Peter up, because he's got his problems right now. So I'd planned this evening as a surprise. He hadn't suspected a thing. In fact, he'd even forgotten that it was our anniversary, and he's never done that before. But when he came home it was obvious that today's date had passed him by.

"Oh, Faith, I'm sorry," he sighed as he opened my card. "It's the sixth today, isn't it?" I nodded. "I'm afraid I completely . . . forgot."

"It doesn't matter," I said brightly. "Honestly, darling. Because I know you've got a lot on your mind." He's having a bad time at work, you see. He's publishing director at Fenton & Friend, a job he used to love, but a year ago a new chairwoman called Charmaine arrived and she's been giving him serious grief. She and her creepy sidekick, Oliver. Or rather "Oiliver" as Peter calls him, though not to his face, of course. But, between the two of them, Charmaine and Oliver are making Peter's life hell.

"How was it today?" I asked him cautiously as he hung up his coat.

"Awful," he said wearily, running his hand through his sand-colored hair. "The old bat was going on at me about the bloody sales figures," he said as he loosened his tie. "She went on and on. In front of everyone. It was hideous. And Oliver just stood there, with a smirk on his fat face, oozing sycophancy from every pore. I tell you, Faith," he added with a sigh, "I'm for the chop. It can't be long."

"Well, leave it to Andy," I said.

A faraway look came into Peter's eyes and he said, "Yes. I'll put my faith in Andy." That's Andy Metzler, by the way. He's a headhunter. American. One of the best in town. Peter seems to think the world of him. It's "Andy this" and "Andy that", so I really hope Andy delivers the goods. But it'll be hard for Peter if he does have to leave Fenton & Friend, because he's been there for thirteen years, It's been a bit like our marriage, really a stable and happy relationship, based on affection, loyalty and trust. But now it looks as though it might be coming to an end.

"I suppose nothing stays the same," Peter added ruefully as he fixed us both a drink. "I'm not joking, Faith," he added as I took the last baubles off the Christmas tree. "I'll be getting the old heave-ho, because Oiliver's after my job."

Peter tries to be philosophical about it all, but I know he's very depressed. For example, he's not quite his normal genial self, and he's finding it hard to sleep. So for the past six months or so, we've been in separate rooms. Which is no bad thing as I have to get up at three thirty a.m. for my job at breakfast TV. I do the weather, at AM-UK! I've been there six years now, and I love it, despite the hideously early start. Normally, I let the alarm pip twice, slip out of bed, and Peter goes straight back to sleep. But at the moment he can't stand being disturbed, so he's in the spare room on the top floor. I don't mind. I understand. And sex isn't everything, you know. And in some ways I quite like it, because it means I can sleep with Graham instead. I love Graham. He's absolutely gorgeous, and he's incredibly bright. He snores a bit, which annoys me, but I poke him in the ribs and say, "Darling — shhh!" And he opens his eyes, looks at me lovingly, then drops off again — just like that. He's lucky. He sleeps very well, though sometimes he has nightmares and starts twitching violently and kicking his legs. But he doesn't mind being disturbed in the dead of night when I get up to go to work; in fact — and this is really sweet — he likes to get up too. He sits outside the bathroom while I have my shower. Then I hear the cab pull up, I put on my coat, and hug him goodbye.

Some of our friends think that Graham's a slightly odd name for a dog. And I suppose it is compared to Rover, say, or Gnasher, or Shep. But we decided on Graham because I found him in Graham Road, in Chiswick, where we live. That was two years ago. I'd been to the dentist for a filling, and when I came out there was this mongrel — very young, and terribly thin — looking at me expectantly as though we'd known each other for years. And he followed me all the way home, just trotting along gently behind, then sat down outside the front gate and wouldn't move. So eventually I invited him in, gave him a ham sandwich and that was that. We phoned the police, and the dogs' home, but no-one ever claimed him, and I'd have been distraught if they had because, to be honest, it was love at first sight, just like it was with Peter. I adore him. Graham, I mean. We just clicked. We really get on. And I think the reason why I love him so much is because of the sweet way he put his faith in me.

Peter was fine about it — he likes dogs too — and of course the children were thrilled, though Katie, who wants to be a psychiatrist, thinks I "mother" Graham too much. She says I'm projecting my frustrated maternal desires for another child onto the dog. I know . . . ridiculous! But you have to take teenagers very seriously, don't you, otherwise they get in a strop. Anyway, Graham's the baby of the family. He's only three. He doesn't have a pedigree, but he's got bucketloads of class. He's a collie cross of some sort, with a feathery red-gold coat, a white blaze on his chest and a foxy, elegant charm. We take him almost every-where with us, though not to restaurants, of course. So this evening Peter settled him on his beanbag, put on the telly for him — he likes Food and Drink — and said, "Don't worry, old boy, Mummy and I are just going out for a quick bite."

But Peter had no idea what I'd really planned. He thought we'd just be having an impromptu dinner, I'd told him I'd booked a table, but he'd assumed it was just for two. So when we got to the restaurant, and he saw the children sitting there, with his mother, Sarah, he looked so surprised and pleased. And I'd invited Mimi, an old college friend of ours, with her new husband, Mike.

"It's like This Is Your Life!" Peter exclaimed with a laugh, as we took off our coats. "What a great idea, Faith," he said. To be honest, I didn't do it just for him. I did it for myself, too, because I felt like marking the occasion in some way. I mean, fifteen years. Fifteen years. That's nearly half our lives.

"Fifteen years," I said with a smile as we sat down. "And it hasn't been a day too long."

I've been very happy in my marriage, you see. And believe me, I still am. For example, I'm never, ever bored. There's always loads to do. We don't have much money, of course — we never have had — but we still have lots of fun. Well, we would do if it wasn't for the fact that Peter's working so hard: Charmaine's got him reading manuscripts most nights, and I have to be in bed by half past nine. But at weekends, that's when we catch up and really enjoy ourselves. The children come home they're weekly boarders at a school in Kent — and we do, ooh, all sorts of things. We go for walks along the river, and we garden. We go to Tesco for the weekly shop. Sometimes we pop down to Ikea — the one in Brent Cross, though occasionally, for a bit of a change, we'll try the one in Croydon. And we might take out a video, or watch a bit of TV, and the children go and see their friends. Well, they would do if they had any. They're both what you'd call loners, I'm afraid. It worries me a bit. For example, Matt — he's twelve — just loves being on his computer. He's an addict, always has been; he was mouse-trained very young. I remember when he was five and I'd be putting him to bed, he'd say, "Please can you wake me up at six o'clock tomorrow, Mummy, so I can go on the computer before I go to school?" And that struck me as rather sad, really, and he's still just like that now. But he's as happy as Larry with all his computer games and his CD Roms, so we don't like to interfere. As I say, he's not what you'd call an all rounder. For example, his written skills are dire. But as well as the computers he's brilliant at math — in fact we call him "Mattematics". And that's why we sent him to Seaworth, because he wasn't coping well where he was. But he wouldn't go without Katie, and it suits her very well too because, look, don't think I'm being disloyal about my children — but they're not quite like other kids. For one thing Katie's far too old for her years. She's only fourteen now, but she's so serious-minded. She does nothing but read. I guess she takes after Peter, because for her it's books, not bytes. She's not at all fashion-conscious, like other girls of her age. There's no hint of any teenage rebellion, either; she seems to be just as "sensible" as me. And because I never kicked over the traces, some-how I wish that she would. I keep hoping that she'll come home one weekend with a lime-green mohican or at the very least with a stud in her nose. But no such luck — all she ever does is read. As I say, she's dead keen on psychology, she's got lots of books on Jung and Freud, and she likes to practice her psychotherapeutic skills on all of us. And when we sat down at the table this evening, that's what she was doing.

"So, Granny, how did you feel about your divorce?" I heard her ask my mother-in-law. I made a sympathetic face at Sarah, but she just looked at me and smiled.

"Well, Katie, I felt fine about it," she said. "Because when two people are unhappy together, then it's sometimes better for them to part."

"What were the chief factors, would you say, in the break-down of your relationship with Grandpa?"

"Well, darling," she said as she lowered her menu, "I think we just married too young."

People sometimes say that about Peter and me. We married at twenty, you see; and so people do sometimes ask me — and to be honest I wish they wouldn't — if I ever have any regrets about that. But I don't. I never, ever wonder, "What if . . .?" because I've been happy really, in every way. Peter's a decent and honest man. He's very hard-working, he's great with the kids, and he's kind and considerate to his mum. He's quite handsome, too, though he needs to lose a little weight. But then, funnily enough, this evening I noticed that he is looking a bit more trim. I expect he's shed a few pounds recently because of all his stress. He's well turned out at the moment, too — I've noticed he's got a couple of lovely new ties. He says he has to be ready to slip out to interviews at the drop of a hat, so he's been dressing very smartly for work. So despite his present anxieties, he's looking pretty good. And after such a long time with Peter I could never fancy anyone else. People sometimes ask me if I do fantasy — sorry, fancy, anyone else — after fifteen years with the same man, and the answer is absolutely, categorically, definitively hardly ever. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm made of flesh and blood. I can see when a man's attractive. For example, that chap who came round last week to mend the washing machine. He got my delicates cycle going again. And yes, objectively, I could see that he was a handsome sort of chap. Yes, I admit it — he was a bit of a hunk. And to be honest, I have been having some rather strange dreams about him recently. Quite vivid ones, featuring all sorts of peculiar items like a mobile phone for example, a TV remote control, and — this is really odd — a tub of blackcurrant sorbet! God knows what it means. I asked Katie actually, and she gave me this rather peculiar look and said it's just my id, running wild. As I say, I always humor her. No doubt my dreams are just the product of my rather fertile imagination. So no, I don't look at anyone else, although I do meet lots of attractive men at work. But I never fancy them, because I'm a very happily married woman, and sex isn't everything, you know. And of course Peter's very preoccupied right now. But yes, to answer your question, my marriage is in great shape, which is why I wanted to celebrate our fifteen happy years. So I booked a table at Snows, just down the road at Brook Green. We don't eat out very often. Peter has to go out to dinner with authors and agents sometimes, he's been doing quite a bit of that of late, but we don't do much ourselves. We can't afford it; what with the school fees — though luckily Matt got a scholarship — and of course publishing doesn't pay well. And my job's only part-time because I'm home by eleven every day. But I thought Peter needed a bit of a treat, so I decided on a party at Snows. It's actually called Snows on the Green, which was rather appropriate because today the snow was on the green. More than an inch of it. It started to fall this morning, and by late afternoon it had built into gentle drifts. And I love it when it snows because there's this eerie hush, and the world falls silent as though everyone's dropped off to sleep. And I just want to rush outside, clap my hands and shout, "Come on! Wake up! Wake up!" And snow always reminds me of our wedding, because it snowed on that day too.

So I was sitting there in the restaurant, looking out of the window for a minute, watching the flakes batting gently against the panes and idly wondering what the next fifteen years of my life would bring. And I was feeling the slightly dizzying effects of the champagne. Not real champagne, obviously just the Italian sparkling, but it's very good, and only half the price. I glanced round the table, listening to the low babble of conversation.

"Are your parents coming, Faith?" Sarah asked me as she nibbled on an olive.

"Oh no, they're on holiday again. I think they're scuba diving in St Lucia," I said vaguely. "Or maybe they're heli-skiing in Alaska. Or are they bungee-jumping in Botswana . . ." Mum and Dad are pensioners, or rather what you might call Silver Foxes or Glamorous Greys. They seem to stagger from cruise to safari to adventure holiday in a variety of increasingly exotic locations. Well, why not? After all, they've worked hard all their lives and so now's the time to have some fun.

"No, Sarah," I said, "I really can't remember where they are, they go away so much."

"That's because they have classic avoidant personalities," announced Katie with mild contempt. "The incessant holidays are the means by which they avoid spending any time with us. I mean, the second Grandpa retired from Abbey National, that was it — they were off!"

"Oh, I know darling, but they send us lots of lovely post-cards," I said. "And they phone up from time to time. And Granny loves chatting to you, doesn't she, Matt?"

"Er . . . yes," he said slightly nervously as he looked up from his menu. "Yes, I suppose she does." Lately I've noticed that my mother often asks to speak to Matt on the phone. She loves chewing the fat with him, even ringing him at school, and I think it's great that they're developing such a nice bond.

"I do envy your parents," said Sarah ruefully. "I'd love to go away, but it's impossible because I'm tied to the shop." Sarah owns a second-hand book shop in Dulwich. She bought it twenty years ago with her alimony after her husband, John, left her for an American woman and moved to the States. "Oh, I've a small anniversary gift," Sarah added as she handed me a beribboned parcel, inside which — Peter helped me open it — were two beautiful crystal glasses.

"What lovely tumblers, Sarah — thank you!"

"Yes, thanks Mum," Peter said.

"Well, you see the fifteenth anniversary is the crystal one." she explained as I noticed the red sticker on the box marked "Fragile". "Anyway, are we all present and correct, now?" she added pleasantly.

"All except for Lily," I replied. "She says she's going to be a bit late." At this I noticed Peter roll his eyes.

"Lily Jago?" said Mimi. "Wow! I remember her at your wedding, she was your bridesmaid — she's famous now."

"Yes," I said proudly, "she is. But she deserves every bit of it," I added, "because she's worked so incredibly hard."

"What's she like?" asked Mimi.

"Like Lady Macbeth," said Peter with a hollow laugh. "But not as nice."

"Darling!" I said reprovingly. "Please don't say that — she's my best and oldest friend."

"She treats staff like disposable knickers:' he added, "and treads on, heads as though they're stepping stones."

"Peter, that's not fair," I said. "And you know it. She's very dedicated and she's brilliant, she deserves her tremendous success." It used to grieve me that Peter didn't like Lily, but I got used to it years ago. He can't understand why I keep up with her and I've given up trying to explain. The fact is, Lily matters to me. I've known her for twenty-five years — since our convent days — so we have an unbreakable bond. But I mean, I'm not blind — I know that Lily's no angel. For example, she's a little bit touchy, and she's got a wicked tongue. She's also a "bit of a one" with the boys — but then why shouldn't she be? She's single, and she's beautiful. Why shouldn't she play the field? Why shouldn't a gorgeous thirty-five-year-old woman, in her prime, have lots of lovers and lots of fun? Why shouldn't a gorgeous thirty-five-year-old woman be made to feel desirable and loved? Why shouldn't a thirty-five-year-old woman have romantic weekends in country house hotels with jacuzzis and fluffy towels? Why shouldn't any thirty-five-year-old woman have flowers and champagne and little presents? I mean, once you're married, that's that; romance flies out the window, and you're with the same old body every night. So I don't blame Lily at all, though I don't think her choice of boyfriends is great. Every week, it seems, we see her staring at us out of the pages of Hello! or OK! with this footballer, or that rock star, or some actor from that new soap on Channel 4. And I think, mmm. Mmm. Lily could do better, I think. So, no, she hasn't got brilliant taste in men, although at least these days — praise the Lord! — she's stopped going for the married ones. Yes, I'm afraid to say she used to be a little bit naughty like that. And I did once remind her that adultery is forbidden by the seventh commandment.

"I didn't commit adultery," she said indignantly. "I'm single, so it was only fornication." Lily's not interested in marriage herself, by the way; she's totally dedicated to her career. "I'm foot-loose and fiancé free!" she always likes to exclaim. I must say, she'd be a bit of a challenge to any man. For a start, she's very opinionated, and she bears interminable grudges. Peter thinks she's dangerous, but she's not. She's simply tribal; by which I mean she's loyal to her friends but ruthless to her foes, and I know exactly which category I'm in.

"Lily had twelve other invitations tonight," I said. "She knows so many people!"

"Yes, Mum," said Katie matter-of-factly. "But you're her only friend."

"Well, maybe that's true, darling." I said with a tiny stab of pride, "but I still think it's sweet of her to come."

"Very gracious," said Peter wryly. He'd had a couple of drinks by then. "I can't wait for the dramatic entrance," he added sarcastically.

"Darling," I said patiently, "Lily can't help making an entrance. I mean, it's not her fault she's so stunning." She is. In fact she's jaw-dropping. Everybody stares. She's terribly tall for a start, and whippety thin, and she's always exquisitely dressed. Unlike me. I get a small allowance from work for the things I wear on TV and I tend to spend it in Principles — I've always liked their stuff. Just recently I've started to get quite interested in Next, and Episode. But Lily gets a huge clothing allowance, and the designers send her things too, so she always looks amazing — in fact, she's amazing period. And even Peter will admit that she has huge talent, and guts and drive. You see, she had a very tough start in life. I remember the day she arrived at St Bede's. I have this vivid picture in my mind of Reverend Mother standing on stage in the main hall one morning after Mass; and next to her was this new girl — we were all agog to know who she was.

Copyright © 2002 Isabel Wolff

Meet the Author

Isabel Wolff was a BBC radio producer and reporter before becoming a full-time writer. Behaving Badly was short-listed for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Novel of the Year award, and A Vintage Affair was short-listed for the American Library Association Prize in the fiction category. Isabel lives in London with her family. For further information please visit www.IsabelWolff.com or go to the Isabel Wolff, Author Page on Facebook.

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Out of the Blue 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
A story told in 1st person & for a few chapters I had trouble following the rapid thought process of our part-time weather "girl"....but I enjoyed the book.
alxgates More than 1 year ago
I love Isabel Wolff, especially her book, A Vintage Affair. So, when this book came out..I had to get it. I pre-ordered the book and I read it in two days. Her writing is amazing, and the story line is really realistic... and I kept thinking throughout the hole novel, would I beable to forgive like she is? So good! Definitely would recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very good book, just delightful, great pace and always keeps you guessing. One of the better books!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Faith and Peter Martin celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary, which he completely forgot about, with friends and family including their two teenage children. Peter apologizes to his wife blaming it on the pressure at work caused by new a new chairwoman at the publishing firm where he works as a director. At the party, Faith¿s friend Lily makes a seemingly innocuous remark praising Faith for being ¿marvelous to trust him¿. However, Lily¿s casual comment makes Faith relook Peter who has bought new clothing and lost weight. She checks his credit card where she finds he bought flowers for someone. She questions him and he blows her off as being silly. Ultimately, she believes he is innocent and praises him for his faithfulness only to have him break down and confess he had an affair. As Peter tries to win back his wife, Faith begins to branch into other areas encouraged by her daughter and best friend. OUT OF THE BLUE could have been another ¿He did, she did¿ tale, but is more than that due to the rich cast that turns the prime theme of deceit into a deep character study. Faith lives up to her name until she learns Peter cheated. Peter feels guilt over his actions and his subsequent cover-up. Their daughter Katie steals the show with her Freudian analysis of everyone around her while Lily is a rip the skin off of everyone else magazine editor. These and other secondary players make for an upbeat amusing tale of relationships in the modern age that will have every spouse checking his pockets. Harriet Klausner