Perfect Alibis – Jane Wenham-Jones

Jane Wenham-Jones, for those of you that haven’t heard of her before, is the ‘agony aunt’ for Writing Magazine. Her style of writing often carries a subtle hint of humour, and as I read her articles I thought perhaps I should try her novels, where she’s welcome to express herself how she pleases, and use that humour to its full extent.

In Perfect Alibis she certainly does that. The main character Stephanie is a little cheesed-off with life; her kids drive her crazy, and she’s fed up with her husband and his bedroom antics. What she would really like (besides George to leave her alone!) is a job, a little independence, and to feel valued. So she gets a job with the wife of George’s friend Ken, at her recruitment business.

However, PA’s is not what Stephanie expected. PA doesn’t actually stand for Personal Assistant at all, but Perfect Alibis. The place Madeleine runs is an agency which offers women alibis for when they are having extra-marital affairs! Stephanie is scandalised, particularly when she sees some of the clients that come in and out of the place. Some of the women appear to be happily married but have a ‘bit on the side’ and Madeleine and her girls set it up so they have iron-clad alibis should things go wrong.

This book is hilarious. It portrays Stephanie to be a woman who has some self-esteem issues, and who is longing for the past. This is not helped when she sees in the local newspaper that the mother of her first love, Troy, passed away. She visits Troy and offers her condolences – but condolence is far from Troy’s mind. When he sees Stephanie again, he does his best to persuade her that they should be together, and they both leave their respective spouses. Stephanie is horrified, but still tempted. Seeing Troy again has stirred up all those old feelings she thought she’d buried forever. He makes her feel wanted and sexy again, and more importantly, she wants him back.

What with working for a firm who encourages extra-marital sex, having a family that barely seem to notice whether she’s there or not, and her ex-boyfriend bombarding her with messages of undying love, Stephanie has no idea what to do! Things get more and more complicated and Stephanie finds it difficult to cope.

As Stephanie’s relationship with Troy grows, you can really feel her inner struggle with morality and sexuality. Wenham-Jones has a way with words and you really get to know the characters in the book, some of them you’ll want to kill, some of them, hug. A truly hilarious read that will have you hooked from start to finish.

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