Aussie Book Review: The Best Man by Dianne Blacklock

the best man The Best Man by Dianne Blacklock

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Pan Macmillan Australia, September 2013

 Synopsis- Everything seems to be going perfectly in Madeleine’s life – she’s a successful publicist in a book publishing house, and through work has met the love of her life, children’s author Henry Darrow, who she’s convinced is the loveliest man on earth.

Things haven’t always been so perfect for Madeleine, though. When her father died suddenly, it hit her hard; at the same time she struggled with the demands of her lifestyle and felt as though her life was spinning out of control. Until she met Henry.

Now they are set to marry and live happily ever after when their best man arrives in town – handsome, charming and ever attentive, Aiden is a welcome visitor. But his presence soon causes ripples in the happy couple’s world, as he brings secrets with him – and starts to unravel some of Madeleine’s.

As the big day draws closer, Madeleine starts to question her commitment to Henry: Is he really the one she wants to spend the rest of her life with?

Review- Dianne Blacklock’s ninth novel, The Best Man, is a story that tests the boundaries of relationships and explores the implications of choices and how they can send someone’s life on a different path in a matter of seconds.

The protagonist in The Best Man, Madeleine, is a successful publicist who is engaged to children’s author Henry Darrow. One month before their wedding, Henry’s best man from America arrives and his entrance into the happy couples’ life is like a whirlwind. Quiet, calm and thoughtful Henry pales in comparison to his outgoing, charming best mate. His enthusiasm and impulsivity appeals to Madeleine’s carefree nature and the side of her she’d tamed, the one that liked to take risks and didn’t care about the consequences. As their friendship develops, both Madeleine and Aiden test the boundaries of appropriate behaviour, though she seems to be in denial about this.

The author cleverly delivers this story in a way that made me, as the reader, empathise with Madeleine. I started to think, gosh Henry is a bit of a party pooper, and why can’t Mad have a drink or stay in her apartment in the city? I didn’t realise until the end that Henry’s behaviour hadn’t really changed throughout the story, it was Madeleine- I’d been in denial too.

However, unlike Mad I always felt a little suspicious of Aiden and his motives. There was more to the story than he just being a charmer and attracted to his best friends fiancé. Unfortunately it was a little too late before Mad figured that out. I’d have liked to learn a bit more about Henry earlier on as the author unleashes his background and his anxieties quite late in the story. This backstory created an added depth to his character and my opinion of him shifted as I realised he’d actually made a lot of sacrifices and overcome a lot of emotional difficulties to move to Australia to have a life with Mad (though Aiden led her to believe otherwise). By the end I thought Henry was a real sweetheart and the most understandable man in the world… though their issues seemed to be resolved a little too quickly for it to be completely believable.

Another viewpoint running through the story was Madeleine’s boss, Liv who has dedicated the last decade of her life to her career and caring for her teenage boys. But when her ex-husband begins to act suspiciously nice and ‘husband-like’ it prompts her to get back into the dating field and to shake her ex-husband’s hold over her forever. I didn’t feel as strong a pull to Liv as I did Madeleine, but I did enjoy the dynamic it added to the main story- especially since Liv was the victim of infidelity in her marriage.

I liked The Best Man a lot more than I’d expected to and even though I’m not particularly fond of infidelity in novels, I felt the author provided enough context and explored the ramifications well in this character-driven novel. Another Blacklock novel to add to my keeper shelves!

Overall Rating

4/5

“I loved this book!”

The Best Man can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge:

awwbadge_2013

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