Second Wives Clubby Jane Moore
Alison and her groom, Luca, have just exchanged vows and are preparing to cap off their perfect day at the reception. But before the champagne even hits the crystal stemware, Luca’s first wife storms in and makes it clear that she intends to remain very much a part of his life. When the fuss has died down, Alison finds an
It’s Ex-Wives versus Next Wives
Alison and her groom, Luca, have just exchanged vows and are preparing to cap off their perfect day at the reception. But before the champagne even hits the crystal stemware, Luca’s first wife storms in and makes it clear that she intends to remain very much a part of his life. When the fuss has died down, Alison finds an ally in Fiona, who confides that a few women she knows have recently started something called the Second Wives Club – a group of female friends who get together to bitch and gossip about the drama that inevitably unfolds when you marry someone else’s husband.
The Club gives founding members Julia, Susan, Fiona and their friends a place to vent, and together they contend with malicious rumors, scheming divorce lawyers, and ex-wives intent on revenge–until they decide that it’s time to stop settling for second best . . . and then the fun really begins.
“Every bit as satisfying as a gloriously gossipy night out with the girls.”
—Daily Mail (London)
“Fun and fresh, with an underlying sophistication.”
“Hilarious cynicism about relationships that will appeal to anyone who has ever lost in love. As therapeutic for heartbreak as a voodoo doll.”
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Read an Excerpt
The Second Wives Club
By Jane Moore
Random HouseJane Moore
All right reserved.
A First Wife Is for Life, Not Just for Christmas
Letting out an ever-so-pretty little sigh that wouldn't swell her bosom beyond the confines of her perfectly corseted dress, Alison cast her eyes up and down the table tops, letting her gaze linger on the eye-catching arrangements of lilies from one of London's top florists. The fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of identical lilies had been available from far cheaper outlets was neither here nor there. As she had told Luca on the numerous occasions he had questioned the validity, not to mention expense of it all, she wanted the best on her wedding day.
If she'd had her way, they'd have been married in St. Paul's Cathedral with a hundred-strong choir and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa warbling the bridal march. But the small matter of Luca's previous wedding had limited them to City Hall, and his refusal to shell out "London prices" meant the reception was being held at a nearby conference hotel of the kind usually associated with pull-out ironing boards and a Mr. Coffee percolator in every room.
But looking at it now, she thought, you could never tell that the day before it had been a drab old room frequented by the sales team of a window manufacturing company. The maroon draylon chairs were disguised with white cotton covers, gathered in by a red velvet bow tied roundthe back, and the four Seventies-style pillars propping the ceiling up were now unrecognisable, peppered with red rosebuds and fronds of trailing ivy. Around her, their hundred and fifty guests sipped champagne, dined on delicacies, and laughed as they snapped photos with the miniature Polaroid cameras they'd placed at every table.
Alison had employed the services of an event organiser, but being the product of a mother who was such a fanatical perfectionist that she put newspaper under the cuckoo clock, she was also a control freak. So she'd overseen every last detail herself, adamant that her wedding was going to be the fairytale perfect day she'd always imagined as a little girl. So far, she hadn't been disappointed.
Turning to her left, her expression of relief and satisfaction skewered into one of dismay as she clocked Luca's six-year-old son Paolo, smearing his foie gras terrine from one side of his plate to the other. Resisting the temptation to inform him that it had cost $15 per serving, she extended a gloved hand and patted him on the head, hoping to distract him from his messy task.
"All right, soldier?" she said gently, feeling him recoil slightly under her touch. He had made an angelic page-boy, a vision in midnight blue velvet pantaloons with a matching soft velvet cap. At least he'd kept the latter on, she noted.
His four-year-old brother Giorgio, sitting to his left, had dispensed with his in a muddy puddle hours ago.
"When are we going to the park?" he whined.
"The park?" Alison looked puzzled.
"Yes, daddy said he'd take us. Today." Paolo's big brown eyes looked up at her imploringly.
"Not now, darling," Alison murmured. "Another time, okay?" The park indeed! What on earth had Luca been thinking of, promising them that?
The sound of a fork tinkling against the side of a glass broke into her thoughts. She turned and gazed across the dance floor to where someone was standing next to the band leader. It was David Bartholomew, getting ready to speak.
David had been Luca's best man at his first wedding to Sofia, but despite Alison's finest efforts to get him jettisoned in favour of someone new, Luca had flatly refused. "I can't just change my best friend to suit you," he'd argued, so she'd finally let the matter drop.
Luca and David had become friends through of their love of football. They had met through a mutual acquaintance several years earlier, discovered a mutual passion for David's home team of Chelsea, and bingo-a firm friendship was formed in the stands at Stanford Bridge. It was very much a season ticket relationship, restricted to match days only. Alison had only met David a handful of times, usually when he popped in for a quick coffee while dropping Luca home.
She knew he was married to a woman named Fiona, but other than that, the details were sketchy. Like most men, Luca was very unforthcoming on the minutiae of other people's lives. Not because he was being discreet, but simply because he wasn't interested enough to ask.
"Well, here we are again." David's voice boomed out of the speakers at the back of the room to a polite ripple of laughter.
Knowing all eyes were on her, Alison clamped on a beatific smile, but inside she felt her stomach drop. This was supposed to be her day with Luca, their own special bubble where they could pretend that his life had begun the day he met her. And now David had delivered an opening gambit that reminded everyone present that Luca had been married before. She glanced at Luca, seated next to her, to gauge his reaction. But things were about to get worse.
"We're here to celebrate the union of a man who signs his wedding certificates in pencil," he boomed, grinning at Luca who grimaced back. Everyone in the room tittered and Alison had to resist the urge to lunge for the six inch knife lying idle by the side of the cake.
"He's the only guy I know who hires his wedding rings!" David ploughed on, waiting for the laughter to end before delivering his next hugely unoriginal joke that painted Luca as a serial Lothario with a "Next" label stitched on his underpants.
Suddenly, a door slammed at the back of the room, somewhere near the dreaded table nine. Dreaded, because it was where Alison had seated the ghastliest of Luca's seemingly limitless relatives, supposedly out of harm's way. There was his Uncle Mauro who still pointed at the planes flying overhead from the Nazi invasion, and his second cousin Maria who, to put it kindly, was only knitting with one needle.
Alison scowled in the direction of the table, aware that a commotion had started there and was gradually progressing across the room in a Mexican wave of sharply drawn breaths. She craned her neck to see what it was, but a hideously large hat at table 11 obscured her view.
David, seemingly oblivious to anything other than the microphone in front of him, was halfway through some lame old anecdote about when he and Luca had both fallen asleep on a train and accidentally ended up in Cornwall, but no-one appeared to be listening.
By now, Alison could see that a brown-haired woman was advancing unchallenged across the room, her face twisted in fury. As she moved closer and her features came into focus, Alison felt a chill start to prick at her forearms. She couldn't be sure as she'd only ever seen one grainy photograph, but . . . "Luca?" she said tentatively, "is that? . . ."
"Mama!" Giorgio shot up from his chair and started to scramble under the table, brushing past Alison's ankles as he did so. Emerging on the other side, he clamped himself to Sofia's left leg as if she was rescuing him from some horrific ordeal. Paolo had the foresight to take a couple of chocolates with him before swiftly following suit.
By now, David had stopped speaking, his face frozen with apprehension. There were over 300 people in the room, but Alison had never heard a silence like it.
Sofia was now standing over her and Luca, her dark, Italian eyes burning with a look that could curdle milk.
"So this is what you call going to the park, is it?" She ignored Alison and looked defiantly at Luca who had now risen from his chair, but stood there motionless, saying nothing.
"You lied to me!" she shouted, leaning forward so her face was just inches from his.
Luca recoiled slightly but his face remained impassive. "Sofia . . ." He spoke so softly that a woman on table three had to crane her neck to try and hear. "You and I both know that I had to lie or the children wouldn't have been able to come today." He gave her a helpless shrug. "Even though I'm their father, you would have forbidden it."
Drawing herself up to her full height of 5'6", her chest and noticeable cleavage heaving with injustice, Sofia stuck her chin in the air in defiance. "What mother would want her children dressed like performing monkeys while their father marries some puntana-a dirty whore!" For the first time, she actually brought herself to look straight at Alison as she emphasised the last word.
A chorus of gasps swept through the guests who then rapidly returned to silence in case they missed the next bit.
"Excuse me!" Alison stood up. If Luca wasn't going to put a stop to this monstrosity, she would. "How dare you call me that in front of my family and friends! You don't know the first thing about me."
Sofia's lip curled into a sneer and she waved a slim, tanned arm around the room. "Your family and friends? I see very few people here that I didn't see at our wedding. You think you're the cat with the cream, but you have a second-hand day." She paused a moment and extended a pointed finger towards David whose terrified expression suggested he thought it might be loaded. "A second-hand best man . . ." the finger moved round to Luca . . ."a second-hand husband . . ." then finally to Alison . . ."and what looks like a second-hand dress. You've even had to borrow my children." She clamped an arm round each of the boys' shoulders. "But not anymore, they're coming with me."
Her insides churning with humiliation and indignity, Alison looked at Luca to do something. But he stayed silent and motionless apart from yet another Italian-style shrug. It was a habit she'd found incredibly sexy when they first met, now it was overwhelmingly irritating.
"See what you've married?" scoffed Sofia, jerking her head towards her ex-husband. "He has never stood up to anyone, always takes the easy choice." With a child clamped to each leg, she resembled someone in dire need of a double hip replacement as she jerked her way across the dance floor to David. Grabbing his microphone, she tapped the end of it like a true professional, checking to be sure that what she was about to say would reach the entire room.
"My ex-husband is a coward and she's welcome to him." Her voice seemed to hit the back wall and bounce back again, filling every corner. "But she's not having my children."
With that, she handed the microphone back to the stunned band leader and began guiding Giorgio and Paolo back towards the door she had burst through just minutes earlier. As she walked past a table of the shellshocked bride's friends and family, Alison's sister Louise rose tentatively to her feet.
"Excuse me," she said, with an unerring British politeness that suggested she was about to ask where the lavatories were, "but you can't speak to my sister like that."
Sofia stopped in her tracks and fixed Louise with a death stare. "Oh yes I can. And I have. And I will again if it suits me to do so. Capisce?"
Louise sank back into her seat and looked helplessly at the others around the table. Emboldened by the sight of her sister's embarrassment and her enemy's retreating back, Alison bristled into action and swivelled to face her new husband. "Luca, they're your children too! Go after her and bring them back."
But Luca stayed where he was and just sighed. "It doesn't work like that in Italian families. The mother has all the power." He watched Sofia as she snaked her way to the back of the room, the guests parting like the Red Sea. "Let them go. At least they were there for the ceremony," he added.
"Well, yes, thank goodness," Alison said sarcastically. "I mean, that really does make up for the mortifying scene your ex-wife just caused at our wedding!" Her face now matched the roses decorating the pillars in front of her. "Is this how it's always going to be?"
"You should have asked that question before you married him, love," a woman's voice said.
Alison's head swivelled to where she thought the woman's voice had come from, but everyone at table two was looking innocent as roses. If idiots could fly, she thought mutinously, this place would be an airport.
Sitting back in her chair with a heavy thump, it suddenly dawned on her that she had spent so much time planning her fairytale wedding that she'd never actually stopped to think about the reality of what she was taking on. Namely, a man with a determined and ferociously bitter ex-wife and two children who were already poisoned against her.
She loved Luca dearly, was probably even a little obsessed with him if the truth be known. But now that the subterfuge of their initially illicit relationship had been stripped away, would her passion for him be able to sustain all the drama from his past? She'd just have to wait and see, hoping that it would.
Sofia had finally disappeared from view and the room started to fill with noise again, the guests obviously discussing the theatrics they'd just witnessed. Alison knew that in most of their eyes, probably all in fact-including her own friends-she had willfully stolen Luca from Sofia, and therefore deserved everything she got.
* * *
Speeches over, the band "Zorba,"-or "Ex-zorba-tant" as Alison referred to them after writing a $4000 check for their services-struck up the first few notes of Elvis Costello's sleepy ballad 'Alison.'
With all eyes on them, Alison forced a smile and extended her hand to Luca who led her to the dance floor.
"Aaaaaaalison, I know this world is killing you . . ."
Not to mention my husband's ex-wife, she thought mutinously. As they swayed slowly to the music, she tried to forget about Sofia, burying her head in Luca's neck and inhaling his Fahrenheit aftershave, the musky smell that had first attracted her to him. As she closed her eyes and let her mind wander away from the scrutiny of everyone's gaze, she tried to convince herself that everything was going to be alright. And it probably would be, she thought, if it was just the two of them.
"Aaaaaalison, my aim is true . . ."
As the music trailed away, Luca took a step back from her to acknowledge the applause of the room and Alison's spell was broken. Leaving him to take the floor with a favoured aunt, she thwarted the offer of other dances, pretending she needed to visit the powder room.
Excerpted from The Second Wives Club by Jane Moore Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Jane Moore is a columnist for the Sun and GQ magazine. She regularly presents investigative documentaries for Channel 4's Dispatches, on subjects ranging from supermarket secrets and broiler chicken production, through to food labelling and Britain's obesity crisis. She is also the author of the bestsellers Fourplay, The Ex-Files, Dot.Homme, Perfect Match and Love is on the Air. She lives in London.
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I love Jane Moore books. I loved Ex Files and Fourplay. Love @ First site was a disappointment, but this book is as good as the first two.
I am an avid fan of Jane Moore's. She has a unique style of writing that makes you laugh, worry, cry, and empathsize with the characters and plot. A great read for 2006. Hope she will write more.
A great book! I think a lot of second wives can identify with at least some of the plot. But it is not necessary that you be a "second wife" to enjoy this tale. The characters seem very true to life. It is a great book for a time you want a "lighter" read...not too complicated, yet keeps your interest. A good book for a rainy day, or a nice "beach read" as you sit and unwind.
i loved the book so much i told all my friend and people i don't know about it.I'm now looking for another book from Jane Moore collection. I give this book a A.
I did enjoy this book. I thought it was going to be more lighthearted than it turned out to be, but it is well written and I have recommended it to friends.
I am a 3o-something newlywed and could relate to all the characters. Mrs. Moore is so dead-on from the perspective of a second wife. I couldn't put down the book. I'm on my way to get all her books.