Review: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

June 27, 2013 Review, William Morrow, Women's Fiction 5


  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (June 11, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0062132466
  • Source: Publisher

Leslie Anne Greene Carter is just about to turn sixty. She married young to Wesley and a majority of her life has been devoted to being a good wife and a doting mother. In their Atlanta social circle, she is the last original wife. Wesley’s friends have all married young, stunningly beautiful women barely out of their twenties. She soon realizes that she has nothing in common with these women. Why must she try so hard to get along with women she doesn’t want to have anything to do with? To make matters worse, Wesley sees their marriage as more of a convenience. Leslie does everything for Wesley and their two adult children and finds that she has ignored her own needs and desires for far too long.

After a series of incidents pushes Leslie over the edge she decides to return to Charleston, her hometown, and stay with her brother in his stunning historical home. She takes the opportunity to do all the things she should have been doing all along. She is reunited with her old high school flame and together the two wine and dine in the luxurious and historical southern city. Finally Leslie discovers just what it is she wants out of life, a discovery that has been a long time coming.

Told in chapters alternating between Leslie and Wesley’s points of view, the intent of The Last Original Wife is to be a story of love, friendship, and self-discovery. I’ve been a long-time fan of this author’s work, relishing in the sweet southern setting. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite the same reaction to this novel.

As a reader, I like a novel’s character to develop before my eyes, allowing me to make judgements and form my own opinion of that character as they are built up and revealed. In this case, however, I felt I was force-fed a character with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I felt manipulated, in a sense.  I wanted to discover for my own what sort of character this man and I felt I missed out a lot by being forced to accept and honestly hate a character that was handed to me on a plate.

Additionally, I’m all about self-discovery and rebirth…but why is it that it has to involve a woman in an unhappy marriage with an absolutely despicable man? Anyone, even in the happiest of marriages, can undergo a need to discover oneself and embark on a journey to do so. In this novel, the intense distaste for Wesley’s character was so strong, I felt it really detracted from the story.  I wanted to celebrate Leslie’s journey with her but instead found myself shaking my fist and yelling each time I picked up the book. The overwhelming negative feelings prevented me from truly appreciate what I think was the author’s intended message in this novel.

This won’t deter me from reading Frank’s work in the future. She is such a talented writer that I would be missing out if I allowed one experience to detract me from reading her writing. While this isn’t the novel for me, perhaps other readers out there can overlook the issues that disturbed me so.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to review this title. Please be sure to check out the other stops along the way.

5 Responses to “Review: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank”

  1. Ashley

    Hmm…my first impression was, “That looks like a great beach read!” but your description of the characters seems really crummy. I hate force-fed characters. I’ll probably pass on this one.

  2. Jean Lewis

    I have this book and have been on the fence about reading it. Too many other great books just waiting in line. Now that I’ve read your review, I’ve decided to tuck this one away and pass. It’s too bad because I so enjoyed her last novel. I trust your judgment. Thanks for an honest review.