The Work Wives by Rachael Johns is the latest standalone by the popular West Australian author. I enjoyed much of this novel about two women – work friends, but very different and at very different stages of their lives.
There’s often a bit of a discussion online in relation to the use of ‘women’s fiction’ to group books that mostly target female readers. I’ve got a long-buried post about the weirdness of it, given that we don’t say ‘men’s fiction’. And quite frankly I’d be insulted if many of my favourite crime fiction novels or thrillers were labelled thus. In some ways I’m torn about the issue*. I know some male readers and reviewers who do read books predominantly about women and women’s issues but at the same time recognise books like How to Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns predominantly target female readers.
And here Johns offers us two leads for the price of one, with her latest novel centred equally around a mother and daughter at very different stages of their lives. She also introduces an older woman, who I very much enjoyed meeting.
I think I’ve read all of West Australian author Rachael John’s standalone novels. She always offers readers interesting characters. They’re very real and complex. We often meet them at a time their world has been upended and they’re hitting rock bottom, but she ensures they are resilient. In short they’re generally women I think I’d like.
Rachael Johns’ most recent novels tackle a range of contemporary and complex issues. Her latest release is no different. My expectations around her books have probably grown over recent years and thankfully she’s giving readers consistently strong characters, interesting plots and challenging us to ponder our own attitudes and beliefs a little as well.
Just One Wish offers up three generations of women. All relatable and very very different.
There’s something really warm and familiar about Rachael Johns’ writing and characters. I’ve not read any of her rural romance novels, but I’ve enjoyed her recent contemporary novels and each time I turn the first page I settle into a comfortable reverie of sorts. I could be reading about people I know. Friends, family. They’re authentic and – even if not always completely likeable – they’re relatable.
I wasn’t sure if I’d struggle with this book. I was in my early 40s before I gave up on meeting the man of my dreams. Or just someone who wanted to spend their life with me…. and started contemplating motherhood solo.
Dreary stories about sperm donors, artificial insemination and IVF aside… it didn’t happen for me and – as a result – I’m occasionally bitter and twisted about the whole thing. (Something others take for granted etc etc).
So, it was with some trepidation I embarked upon this story on motherhood.
I realise that sounds kinda strange, but… I follow Rachael on social media and love her words, updates and tweets. I can very much relate to her and think I’d like her if I met her in person.
However… her books have traditionally fallen more into the ‘romance’ genre: one I steer clear of as much as possible. As I do with fantasy, science fiction and non-fiction. And really big L literature, written by Russians with complicated names.
Johns’ latest release, The Art of Keeping Secrets, has been receiving praise from a lot of readers and book bloggers; and, as it sounded like it focused less on the happily-ever-after I decided to dive in. And thank god I did.