What would you do if you found out that your husband had been secretly planning to divorce you? This is the situation that Maya finds herself in, in Leah McLaren’s second novel. A Better Man* is the latest book in the Britmum’s Book Club and focuses around Maya and Nick’s marriage, which has been struggling since the birth of their twins a few years ago.
Once a high-flying family lawyer, Maya becomes a stay-at-home mother with the help of a nanny, and her life focuses around the needs of her children. Nick is no longer number one on her priorities, and she is not his either though for different reasons. His priorities are work and having as many flings as he can get away with.
When Nick decides he wants a to leave his wife, he turns to his friend Gray, who is also a family lawyer, for advice. His friend explains that in their current situation Nick would stand to lose a lot of money in divorce settlements and maintenance payments. However, he explains that if Nick can try to be a good husband, try to be A Better Man, and encourage Maya to regain some independence by returning to work, the finances would be divided by the courts in an entirely different way.
Nick puts this plan into motion and starts working on becoming A Better Man. In doing so, we see Maya begin to soften and find her identity again. She’s not just a mother. She throws herself back into work, starting at the same law firm that Gray works at. Maya and her husband make time for each other, make time for the children, they have date nights and a holiday. It’s all initially all part of part of Nick’s grand scheme, but in time he realises that he doesn’t want to leave Maya after all. He wants to be a good husband and father. But has he realised too late?
Like all good books there would have to be a twist, and there are certainly plenty of them in this story. It is one that I felt I could relate too – not because my husband is planning to leave me (I hope not anyway) but because our relationship has also changed since we had children. Our family dynamics are now completely different and I could really empathise with Maya and her determination to be a “perfect” mother. It is interesting how my feelings about the characters changed as the novel unfolded and, while I wouldn’t say it had me gripped, I was certainly keen to read what happened next.
A Better Man by Leah McLaren is published by Corvus Books and is available online and at all good bookshops in paperback with an RRP of £7.99. Buy it now at Amazon for just £4.00!