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The Wife Of Reilly

The Wife Of Reilly

4.4 11
by Jennifer Coburn

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When Prudence Malone attends her college reunion, she expects to catch up with her girlfriends and visit the campus she left in the eighties. Over the homecoming weekend, she runs into her college flame -- the one who got (okay, ran) away. The one she’s never forgotten. As they spend time together, both Prudence and Matt realize that


When Prudence Malone attends her college reunion, she expects to catch up with her girlfriends and visit the campus she left in the eighties. Over the homecoming weekend, she runs into her college flame -- the one who got (okay, ran) away. The one she’s never forgotten. As they spend time together, both Prudence and Matt realize that their post-graduation break-up was a mistake. On Sunday afternoon, Matt impulsively proposes and the two plan to wed that summer. But before marrying Matt, Prudence has a problem to deal with -- her husband Reilly.

Prudence could divorce Reilly like a normal person, but she’s far too wacky for that. Her solution is to secretly find a new wife for Reilly to replace herself after she and Matt marry. This shouldn’t be too difficult, she decides. After all, she lives in Manhattan where there are plenty of single women. And she can enlist the help of her three best friends: a costume-wearing advertising executive, a saucy single mother and a level-headed gay artist.

Though the newly engaged couple lives on opposite coasts, Prudence still finds herself in as series of near-misses trying to keep Matt and Reilly unaware of the other’s existence. Ever-fumbling Prudence gave her new boyfriend the idea that she is a widow. Her husband has no idea that his wife has a fiancé in California.

Through singles ads and a “Wife of Reilly” gallery exhibit, the gang of four meets New York’s nuttiest single women looking for love. Among the pack, Prudence crosses paths with a recovering lesbian who has just graduated from Straight Expectations rehabilitation center, a horrifying mirror image of herself, and an aspiring writer who lost interest in her own memoirs mid-draft. Along the way, Prudence is rejected by an insipid kindergarten teacher, pumped for investment tips by a demanding attorney, and swarmed by wannabe wives of Reilly. And she finds herself intensely jealous of a creative young playwright who declared Reilly “damaged goods” after learning that he is not actually Prudence’s brother (as she originally claimed).

Through her eight-month search, Prudence ultimately helps find the next wife of Reilly, though not at all in the way she had originally planned. Somewhere along the journey, she discovers something far more important – herself

Product Details

Publication date:
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5.60(w) x 8.14(h) x 1.11(d)

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Chapter 1

Finding a new wife for my husband was not going to be an easy task. Keeping Reilly a secret from my new fianc� was going to be an even greater one. This sounds just awful, I'm sure. While it's true I've gotten myself in a rather sticky situation juggling a husband and boyfriend, it doesn't automatically make me a bad person. I'll be the first to admit I handled things poorly last weekend. I plead temporary stupidity. All right, permanent selfishness. But all I have is today, and today this is the reality I'm dealing with. I could dwell in regret over my mistake, which does no one any good. Or I can do something to repair the damage I've done.

I read somewhere that forty percent of women cheat on their husbands. Nowhere have I ever heard of a soon-to-be ex-wife finding her own replacement so her husband isn't lonely after the divorce. That's got to count for something, doesn't it?

I knew my plan was a bit unusual. The good news was that so were the three friends I would enlist in my mission. Jennifer, Sophie and Chad would surely understand why finding a new wife for Reilly was something I needed to do.

My friends in Ann Arbor had a hard time accepting that I'd fallen in love with my college boyfriend over the course of one homecoming weekend. Cindy was morally outraged by my infidelity, as if it were her I cheated on. Eve was more demure in her contempt, but she was equally disappointed by my transgression. Both were too busy judging me to bother asking how I felt about the whole thing. As the cheater, the only feeling I was apparently entitled to was guilt; of this, I had plenty. But along with my remorse, I had an intense need for a friend to ask me how I was doing. How I felt about the fact that my marriage had became a straw house. If I had any conflicted feelings over divorcing Reilly. Or marrying Matt.

As I walked in the door of the Monkey Bar, our favorite midtown lunch spot, Jennifer's cab pulled up to the curbside and I watched her long brown legs make their exit. A full minute later, Jennifer followed. Even at noon, wherever she went, it was evening. Jennifer was the kind of woman who seemed to be always accompanied by a sultry saxophone soundtrack written just for her. Jennifer gets out of cab. Jennifer walking. Prelude to Jennifer. She would've been great as one of those femme fatales in a film noir flick if only they were casting black folks as leads in those days. She was sexy, powerful and, oddly enough at six feet tall, dainty.

Chad and Sophie were already inside exchanging stories over stubby glasses. Both elbows of Chad's powder blue suede jacket rested on the table as he whispered to Sophie, conspiratorially. Sophie threw back her head of wavy black hair as she laughed, then softly patted Chad's hand. I felt like I was missing something.

Sophie moved to New York last year after her divorce. Last year, she sold her house in the suburbs, packed up her kids and drove five days straight from San Diego. She no longer works thanks to a case she won representing eighty-four plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against a chain of Chinese restaurants in Southern California called Lo Fats. The cooks put quite a bit more fat into the recipes than the calorie count indicated on the menu. Sophie was able to convince a jury that the misrepresentation of calories and fat grams contributed to four fatal heart attacks among cardiac patients who thought they were eating light, and eighty cases of depression among women who couldn't understand why they weren't losing weight on their strict Lo Fats diet. She won a $49 million verdict, and was able to collect half for her clients before the chain ultimately filed bankruptcy.

Jennifer raised her eyebrows as if to cue my announcement. "So what's your big news?" she asked.

She's the creative director for Ogilvy and fancies herself the queen of marketing. Over the years, she's gotten me into the annoying habit of comparing things to advertisements. She shops at Off Broadway's Back, a boutique in the theatre district that sells used costumes from shows. Usually, people shop there when they're planning to attend a masquerade party, but Jennifer actually wears these getups as her everyday attire. She's shown up at work wearing the gold-sequined top hat from A Chorus Line. She's attended meetings with major clients dressed as Aida. Jen is attractive enough to get away with these outrageous clothes, and her agency's clients assume that anyone who dresses this way must be some sort of mad, creative genius.

"I know this is going to sound kind of weird, but, well, as you know I went to Ann Arbor this weekend, and I ran into an old boyfriend," I began.

"And?" Jennifer coaxed.

"I'm engaged."

"You're what?" asked Chad.

"Engaged," I said, softer this time.

"Engaged in what?" he quizzed.

"Engaged, engaged. You know, getting married."

"Prudence, I'm confused. You are married," Sophie added.

"Good Lord," Chad said. "You're not serious, are you Prudence?"

I nodded tentatively, my eyes wide for their approval. I told them I'd fallen in love with Matt and the two of us planned to marry this summer after he sold his house in Los Angeles and found a job in New York. "This is my soul mate, you guys," I said as a preamble to recalling my weekend. "I'm completely and madly in love, so can you just be happy for me?"

"I'm not following this," Jennifer said. "Why did you tell, what's his name, Mike? Mark?"


"Matt," Jennifer corrected herself. "Does he know about Reilly? Does he know you're married already?!"

"Not exactly." I hesitated, knowing this was the cruelest part of my weekend of lies. "I never actually said this, but Matt kind of thinks Reilly's dead."

They stared incredulously.

"Look, I know this sounds bizarre, even to me," I explained. "You know I don't ever do flaky things like this. Isn't everyone entitled to a screw-up every now and then?"

"I'd say this is more than a little screw-up," said Chad. "Pretending your husband is dead so you can fool around with an old boyfriend is a tad vile, dear."

Chad owns the gallery under the loft that Reilly and I bought when we first married. He's a good fifteen years older than us, and was one of those starving young painters who had the good sense to buy a few warehouses dirt cheap in SoHo in the 1970s. He was one of the original artists who helped transform the area into an upscale creative oasis. His partner Daniel is a sculptor who bares a remarkable resemblance to Mr. Clean with multiple earrings. Both are huge fans of pop culture, so they nearly keeled over from delight when they found a computer program that would morph art and inject them into the scene. They created a gigantic American Gothic, using themselves as the farm couple, which hangs over their white velvet sectional. Daniel has been transformed into The Scream with the background changed to the Barney's half-yearly sale. Chad did himself as a colorful Lichtensteinesque figure, gasping, "What would Judy do!" Chad and Dan's room is modeled after the inside of Jeannie's bottle, complete with six thousand pillows, sashes in every shade of pink that fan out from the center of the ceiling to the floor periphery, and a fat mannequin that the guys painted light brown and put a turban on. They hugged me when I was the only one who got that the dummy was supposed to be Cousin Hodgie.

"I know it's vile," I conceded with a mix of humility and impatience. "But this is where I am now, so I've got to work with what I've got. Telling me that the situation is screwed up helps no one. I already know I fucked up, but I'm going to fix everything. I'm getting to that. Everyone's going to end up better off in the long run, I promise. Even Reilly. Especially Reilly."

"Since when are you and Reilly unhappy, anyway?" Jennifer asked. "You never even said anything was wrong."

"Have I ever said anything at all?" I asked.

"Okay, here I can add the voice of experience," said Sophie. "There doesn't have to be anything wrong for there to be something wrong with a marriage, if you know what I mean."

By the expressions on Chad and Jennifer's faces, clearly they did not.

Sophie sighed through her nose and tried again. "There doesn't have to be anything terribly wrong with a marriage for it to be over. There doesn't have to be a big drama. The fact that there's no drama is probably one of the reasons that Prudence felt a need to shake things up a bit."

Chad rolled his eyes and listened to Sophie's philosophy on the erosion of the drama-free marriage. "Prudence, you know we love you, darlin', but there's a big difference between shaking things up a bit and getting engaged to an old lover who thinks your husband is dead. Dead, Prudence. That's not your garden variety self-aggrandizing fib. You didn't just lie about your weight, you told a man that Reilly is dead. You know he's not really dead, Prudence, don't you?"

Copyright © 2004 Jennifer Coburn

What People are Saying About This

Jane Green
A wise and compelling fable for anyone who has ever thought the grass may be greener, and a compulsory read for those of us who spend the odd night thinking about the one that got away.
author of Jemima J and Mr. Maybe
Suzanne Finnamore
A delightful surprise.
author of Otherwise Engaged
Patrick Sanchez
"Move over Bridget Jones! You have just been replaced as the most neurotic woman on the planet by none other than Prudence Malone, the outrageous heroine of Jennifer Coburn's, The Wife of Reilly. Despite her flaws (and there are many...many many many), it's through the writing magic and comic genius of Coburn, that Prudence remains so damn likable. The premise of this book is one of the most creative and original I've ever encountered (a warped...very warped version of The Bachelor), and Coburn delivers it with wit, humor (lots of humor!), and style. I loved, loved, loved this book!"
author of Girlfriends and The Way It Is
Wendy Markham
In her sparkling debut novel, Jennifer Coburn introduces an irresistible heroine--the ironically named Prudence-who's sure to engage both discerning chick lit fans and newcomers to the genre. Populated by a charmingly campy cast of characters and driven by a hoot of a premise, the tale unfolds in a series of laugh-out-loud scenes and a page-turner of a flashback during which we get to see just how our hapless heroine landed in her hilarious predicament in the first place. Coburn's nimble first person narrative is sprinkled with cleverly amusing similes and dead-on observations delivered in a voice so real and contemporary that reading the novel is the next best thing to a gossipy girls' night out.
author of Slightly Single and Slightly Settled
Jill A. Davis
The Wife of Reilly, Jennifer Coburn's deftly funny, engaging and contemporary novel, redefines neurotic (in a great way!).
author of Girls' Poker Night
Holly Chamberlin
Complete with sharp-edged humor, outrageous plot twists, and a cast of colorful characters you'll never forget, The Wife of Reilly is a madcap, bi-coastal romp through the always surprising landscape of modern love -- and divorce. Kudos to author Jennifer Coburn for creating in Prudence Malone a truly modern heroine in search of true love, the perfect body, and her long-lost self - not necessarily in that order.
author of Living Single
Roz Bailey
Hilarious! Jennifer Coburn keeps you laughing until you cry along with Prudence, a character you'll want to hang with long after this book ends. The Wife of Reilly is comedy at its best -- a walloping, cosmopolitan chick adventure with a huge heart. Can't wait to see more from this gem of an author.
author of Party Girls and Girls' Night Out
Marian Keyes
I absolutely loved it! Funny and snappy...a total delight. A riot from start to finish.
Robert Rodi
Wonderfully malicious fun. I enjoyed every catty, conniving page.
author of Bitch Goddess

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The Wife of Reilly 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. Prudence is a realistic character that means well.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book at all. It was decent in the beginning but after that its just boring. I coudln't wait for it to be over. Dont spend the money on the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I hate reading novels. I loved this book. I couldn't put down Coburn's absolutely witty style of writing. You'll feel like you're a generally wittier character for just reading it, and you'll never be bored as she keeps her readers on their toes as we jump from one scene to another: fantasy to reality in a second's time. If you've ever had a crush you'll feel like Coburn is reading your mind. Her Seinfeld-esque way of noting little courtship idiosyncrasies is fantastic. Go Blue!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a last year nursing student and usually don't get to read much outside of medical text books. I saw this book at a local book store where the author was doing a signing. She was great and I liked the concept of the story so I thought why not? I am so pleased that I came across this book and this fabulous new writer. It reminded me of all the reasons I miss reading. It was a fun escape and a quick read. Prudence made me realize that my life is pretty together. She is a charactor that no matter how hard I tried to be mad at her, I just didn't have the heart to. i knew she really was trying her best to make the best of bad situation without hurting anyone. For those of us who love the screwball comedys of the 30's you will love this book. Good job Jennifer, It was great to have met you and I will follow your writing and look forward to your next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
More like 4-1/2, really. This book was a crack up. I don't usually read chick books cause I'm a guy but my sister was laughing so much over Christmas break I swiped it from her to see what was so funny. I really liked this idea. Before the wife leaves her husband she finds him a new wife. Why didn't my ex decide to recycle me like Prudence did for Reilly?! We'd both be better off today. Funny and a good read all the way through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Getting inside Prudence's head is a trip...and a delightful, sexy one at that. I enjoyed the interaction between the main characters and Prudence's wicked thoughts about life, sex and people who just got on her nerves! I'm looking forward to Prudence's next adventure...perhaps in Italy?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this truly hilarious book in one sitting! It¿s a unique and fresh comedy of errors about Prudence Malone who is secretly searching for the perfect mate ¿ for her husband, Reilly! Why? Because Prudence has fallen in love with someone else and wants to leave her marriage without feeling like the heel who dumped her husband. She puts an ad in the personal column of the New York newspaper and starts going out with women, many of whom would like to know why they¿re out with Reilly¿s ¿sister¿ instead of him. (Later she throws a party for single women at an art gallery with Reilly as the exhibit ¿ no spoilers, but that chapter is priceless!) Prudence goes on about 50 dates which are really funny. Some dates last a whole chapter, like the recovering lesbian who just graduated ¿Straight Expectations Rehab Center.¿ Prudence helps her see the light and accept herself as who she is. (If only this protagonist knew that lesson herself! Alas, this is what she needs to learn and does as the story develops.) On another date, Prudence meets the lovely Jasmine who is everything Prudence wishes she was. And in another Prudence meets what she describes as a mirror image of herself ¿ and she hated what she saw. Other dates are a montage of single sentences. The brilliance of this novel was that while it made me laugh aloud many, many times, it also chronicled a woman discovering herself and her strength. It has a very empowering message skillfully woven into a tale that is such outrageous fun! You¿d think readers would hate Prudence because she behaves somewhat abysmally, but I couldn¿t help feel for her because I see that deep down she means well, but has some serious issues. There¿s a beautiful secondary plot with Prudence and her father, which explains a lot about how she turned out to be as selfish (really self protecting, if you asked me) in the first place. You can¿t dislike a character who makes you laugh so damned much! Her friends and dates also made me laugh aloud ¿ often! This book had it all ¿ a great story, loads of humor, a fresh perspective and a main character you can¿t help but love. This book was terrific.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit to picking up this book with some trepidation, despite its clever title, because of the 'chick lit' appearance of its cover. Several years ago, my well-meaning sister bought me several books considered bulwarks of the genre. After reading them, I felt as though I had a peach schnapps and cotton candy hangover. Besides the fact that most of the writing and characterizations were lazy, the feminist in me was annoyed by the 'a man completes me' message cloaked in 'you go, girl' rhetoric. (Don't get me wrong, I love fun reads, but I like usually my genres a little harder-edged, such as mystery fiction.) The old cliche, 'Don't judge a book by its cover' was proved true yet again. I loved this book. Not only are the characters three-dimensional, but I am still scratching my head over how the author was able to make her protagonist--the ironically-named Prudence--so likeable despite the fact that she cheats on her husband, lies to her lover, and is nearly as neurotic as Woody Allen. Rendering a flawed protagonist likeable is a tricky feat few have accomplished; perhaps the most notable example is Jane Austen's Emma. Had this book simply been a sparkling mix of enjoyable characters, an unusual plot, and clever dialogue, I still would have enjoyed it. What elevates this book to five stars is that while maintaining its effervescent style, it touches upon weightier elements than I had expected: issues pertaining to blended families, for instance. In short, the book has substance as well as style. Kudos to the author. I eagerly await her next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When MBA accounting executive Prudence Malone meets her three friends in a New York restaurant she stuns them with the news that she is engaged. Sophie, Jennifer, and Chad point out that she cannot be someone¿s fiancée since she is already married to the kindhearted Reilly. Prudence explains that when she visited Ann Arbor to attend a football game at her alma mater; destiny came too. She met her college love Matt amidst the 100,000 plus at the stadium. They made passionate love and agreed to wed though he is unaware that she already has a spouse. Prudence asks her three friends to help her find a wife for the nice Reilly who she admits deserves better. Jennifer finds the I Love Lucy type scheme fascinating and is in, but Chad rejects the notion she has no obligation to take care of Reilly especially after they divorce. Sophie fails to commit either way though she knows she will help her pal. As Prudence seeks her replacement, Matt makes demands and Reilly acts bewildered by his wife¿s behavior.

THE WIFE OF REILLY is a screwball chic lit (is that an oxymoron?) comedy that makes no sense, but is so much fun to read. The perils of Prudence will keep the audience laughing as every venture she tries to pull off seems more like Lucy and Ethel working at the candy factory. Though her accounting partnership seems out of reach for this dizzy dame, fans will appreciate Jennifer Coburn¿s very amusing tale of a wife finding a spouse for her husband (need I say more).

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
Prudence Malone decides to leave her husband to be with ¿the one who got away¿ after college. Before she goes, though, she¿ll give her husband, Reilly a parting gift, a new wife. She places a singles ad in the newspaper, then starts dating women on Reilly¿s behalf. Of course, Reilly has no idea she¿s doing this, and fiance Matt has no idea his intended is already married. Prudence does a terrible thing, but I couldn¿t help liking and caring about her because the author does such a nice job of keeping the book funny and breezy. Plus, we get inside Prudence¿s head a lot (loved the highly neurotic inner dialogue) to see that she is more than one act of infidelity. This book is really a comedy of errors, like 'Sex and the City' meets 'I Love Lucy.' Some of the dates are LOL hilarious. Others make keen observations about life and love and people in general. And there is a touching back story with Prudence¿s father that answers the nagging question ¿why would anyone do this in the first place?!¿ I highly recommend this book and give it five stars. I read The Wife of Reilly in one five-hour sitting and enjoyed every page. It was funny, charming and such an original idea. I won¿t give away the ending, but I will say, I was so happy with how the story concluded.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I devour all things chick-lit, and the Wife of Reilly was simply the best of the lot. This debut novel was hilariously funny with a riot of a premise! The protagonist decides to find a new wife for her husband ¿ coining the phrase ¿ex recycling.¿ Prudence Malone is a neurotic heroine to be sure, but she's also no one¿s door mat, which I loved. In fact, she launches a pretty twisted plan to find a new wife for her husband while she¿s carrying on a cross-country affair with a cad who writes documentary films defaming Louis. However naughty Prudence behaves, I still loved her because the author did such a good job explaining her psychological make up and we got why she behaved so abhorently. Down deep, we always saw that Prudence meant well, but was just being Prudence. (I actually felt compassion for Prudence, even though at times I wanted to smack some sense into her.) She and her friend constantly made me laugh with their foibles, so how could I not forgive them their human frailties? Five stars for this fabulous concept nicely executed by author Jennifer Coburn!