Updated: May 22
UPDATE: IT'S COMPETITION TIME
We're giving away our review copy of 'My Other Husband' by Dorothy Koomson
to one reader. All you have to do is join our free newsletter by 16 April, and it could be you.
Read It. Read It! is an AKADi Magazine segment aimed at book lovers.
Our goal is to get you reading more books by Ghanaian authors, poets, illustrators or books about Ghana. We want you to share your thoughts on these books and hopefully, instead of us urging you to Read It. You’ll be telling us you’ve Read It!
In this episode, we’re reviewing ‘My Other Husband’ by Dorothy Koomson, the UK’s best-selling Black author of adult fiction. Dorothy has sold over 2.5 million copies in the UK alone, and her books have been translated into more than 30 languages.
Her novels: The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were shortlisted for the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.
A TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was first shown on ITV1 in 2013.
Dorothy featured on the 2021 Powerlist as one of the most influential Black people in Britain, appeared in GQ Style as a Black British trailblazer, and was a judge for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
We featured Dorothy in our fifth issue: ‘Ghanaians in Literature’ in 2020 where she told us about her early beginnings as a writer, why all her lead characters are Black and why a reference to Ghana is never far from her storylines.
This year, in 2023, Dorothy celebrates 20 years as a published writer and ‘My Other Husband’ – her 18th novel - comes out in paperback on 13 April. Her novel is published by Headline Review and my copy has 425 pages.
I’ve got to say that I devoured this book in two days it was so gripping
Now on to the novel…
‘My Other Husband’ tells the story of Cleo Forsum Pryce. Cleo is living her dream. She’s a best-selling author turned scriptwriter whose work has been turned into a TV series. But when we meet her, her life is crumbling.
She’s divorcing her husband despite loving him very much, she’s in the process of giving up her dream scriptwriting job and is planning to leave her beloved Brighton home. And to make matters worse, she’s being linked to a series of murders that she did not commit.
I’ve got to say that I devoured this book in two days it was so gripping. Even when I wasn’t reading the book, I was playing detective in my head. Why? Well, the first few pages drop you immediately into Cleo’s troubles and I was desperately trying to work out why this woman - with a seemingly everyday life - would throw it into such chaos with no clear explanation.
Dorothy told us in our 2020 interview with her that started to write because she couldn’t find the type of stories she liked to read – by that she means pacy, thought-provoking, gripping reads with complex, multifaceted characters.
And this is what I got from ‘My Other Husband’.
One of my favourite aspects about the book was its time travel. The book flits between Cleo’s present and past, and in so doing, it helped to knit the gaps in the story together and kept me thoroughly engaged.
In some cases, an element of the present or the past would be contained in a chapter. And a chapter was as few as four pages. It honestly felt like I was flying through the book. Did I mention I read it in two days?
Meeting Heath, Cleo’s university boyfriend, sealed the book for me. He’s such a complex character that would have me initially gravitating to this unassuming, nerdy, and humble personality then willing Cleo to dump him and his toxic ways.
If I could ask Dorothy anything….
I’d ask what lengths she had to go to to get under the skin of someone as troubled as Heath?
I found the characters in the book and scenarios relatable. I could see myself at university like Cleo, in her first journalism job, having to deal with work politics and the pressure of being the only Black person in the office. I could also relate to the relationships in Cleo’s life from her bestie to her Ghanaian family.
The references to Ghana were a wonderful aspect of this book. They included names, foods, references to visits to Ghana and more.
One of my favourite quotes in the book is when Dorothy likens her feelings (after very challenging experiences in her career) to boiling yam on the cooker.
‘They (her feelings) frothed and foamed like fast-boiled yam – ready to spill over at anytime’ – I could immediately picture this image – could you?
Dorothy set up the book well so by the time it came to Cleo being linked to the unexplained murders, I was invested. I’d say part way through the book, I was convinced I had cracked the case on who was framing Cleo but Dorothy threw in another twist, which kept me hooked to the end.
'My Other Husband’ was a gripping and pacy read that more Dorothy Koomson books.
I hope you enjoyed this review and I’d love to know what you thought of My Other Husband too.
Our next book review…
If you’ve read this book or any others from Dorothy’s collection, tell us what you thought in the comments or at email@example.com
Watch out for our next review, which will be another new release by author British-Ghanaian and German author Sharon Dodua Otoo, and her debut book Ada’s Realm.
Until next time on Read It. Read It!, we invite you to seek out books by Ghanaian authors, poets, illustrators or books about Ghana; we encourage you to share your thoughts and hopefully, instead of us urging you to Read It. You’ll be telling us you’ve Read It!
Find out more about Dorothy Koomson
Magazine - Issue 5