Lily thought she had found the perfect second husband when she married Freddy March, the handsome, charming and gregarious owner of a Soho recording studio.
But the man she considered to be her soulmate is becoming increasingly distant and distracted… is there another woman in his life, or is something more sinister sending shockwaves through their happy marriage?
Hilary Boyd, author of a string of clever, compelling novels including the phenomenally successful Thursdays in the Park, takes us to the heart of a troubled marriage in this emotionally astute and absorbing exploration of the devastating impact of addiction on families and relationships.
Widowed for a decade and left to raise her twins Dillon and Sara alone, Lily struggled with her grief until she fell madly in love with the flamboyant Freddy March. They married three years ago when she moved into his smart London penthouse and joined his ‘glamorous milieu,’ a self-conscious and privileged world.
Their relationship is intense, passionate and fun. Attentive and caring, Freddy taught her to love again and meeting him had been like fitting ‘the final, long-lost piece into a jigsaw puzzle.’
But recently Freddy has becomes tense, snappy and distracted, constantly checking his phone and arriving home late at night. Lily is convinced he is having an affair but the truth turns out to be much worse because Freddy is addicted to gambling.
He owes hundreds of thousands of pounds to loan companies, has been helping himself to money from his own company which has now gone bust, and the money that Lily entrusted to him to invest has been gambled away.
Declaring he is leaving to sort out his life, Freddy clears off to Malta and Lily moves in with her sister Helen, her husband and their son Kit in Oxford. She hopes that she will get the chance to clear her head of Freddy and try to work out how to move on.
But Helen and her family are in crisis – Kit is hooked on heroin – and being away from Freddy is far harder than Lily had thought. Freddy has promised to get help, but can he really ever be cured of his addiction?
After the heartache Freddy has caused, she would surely be better off walking away and starting again but the truth is that she is as addicted to Freddy as he is to gambling, and she’s not sure she even wants to be free.
Boyd has earned a well-deserved reputation as an acute observer of contemporary life and here she casts her sharp eye over addiction in its many forms.
Unafraid to peer into the dark corners of modern lifestyles, Boyd paints an unflinching portrait of a family rocked by an uncontrollable gambling habit, a young man’s addiction to heroin and a love so all-consuming that in itself it becomes an addiction.
The multi-layered plot, packed with drama, revelations and intense emotions, fields a cast of credible characters and tackles themes like love, loss, trust and sibling rivalry with the same attention to detail, perception and empathy as the devastating fall-out from addiction.
Entertaining, informative and intelligent, A Perfect Husband is a thought-provoking tale of our times.
(Quercus, paperback, £7.99)