I was sent a copy of A Better Man by Leah McLaren for review. The book is out today, and well worth a read.

The book is about a fairly well-to-do couple living in New York. Nick, the husband, runs his own advertising company which is doing well for itself. Although that means he can take his pick of which projects he works on, while still taking a cut from other projects his company works on… he doesn’t spend much time at home. His wife Maya gave up her career as a high-powered divorce lawyer when she had twins, who are now three years old. While she’s busy still breastfeeding her offspring in their family bed (Nick sleeps in the spare room), feeding them only organic, gluten free food and only allowing educational games during down-time, she still has a full-time nanny for them so that she can go to appointments with her personal trainer and get her highlights done.

Even when Nick is home, he’s not really present, and seems completely incapable of coping with his children; he leaves it up to Maya while he finds an excuse to leave! Maya wishes he would spend more time with them, but she’s also frustrated by his behaviour.

At the beginning of the book, Nick decides he wants a divorce. A consultation with a friend who works as a divorce lawyer leaves him convinced the only way to divorce Maya without ending up financially crippled is to first rebuild their relationship, get her back into work so that she’s able to support herself financially, and make their divorce more “equals parting ways” than “heartless husband leaves stay at home mum in the lurch” – so he’s likely to get off more lightly when it comes to the financial side of the divorce.

So Nick begins to make more of a concerted effort in his marriage. He takes Maya out for dinner, they go away on holiday, he encourages her to go back to work. But somewhere along the line, all that pretending he loves his wife ends up with him actually… loving his wife!

For a while, they are back in love, remembering they were a happily married couple before they became parents. Their marriage seems to be back on track, and everything seems perfect. But that would be a crappy ending to a book, wouldn’t it. And so, Maya finds out what Nick has been planning.

I absolutely loved the premise of this book; what a genius idea. It’s brilliantly written and so well described. The only thing I took issue with was that the 3-year-old twins often seemed to say things I wouldn’t expect a 3-year-old to be saying. For example, there’s a bit where one of them turns to his mother and comments that “even when Daddy’s here, it’s like he’s not really here” or something and I just couldn’t imagine a 3-year-old saying that.

The twins’ vocabulary is not a massive part of the story though, and the rest of what’s going on more than makes up for it. The characters are well developed, with lots of details added, and lots going on to adequately describe their lives.

I hated in The Da Vinci Code where the only way Dan Brown could shoe-horn in parts of the story was to have entire paragraphs where the protagonist stopped and thought about that time when he’d read that very detailed thing in that book about that very rare thing. It was such an obvious way of trying to get the detail in. A Better Man is brilliantly different to this. Rather than having Maya sit on the sofa having a long internal monologue about how tired her marriage has become, we see her getting unnecessarily flustered by fleeting moments of human contact from her hairdresser, or imagining her personal trainer watching her bum as she walks away. You can see how much she misses human contact, having hugs and kisses and affection, without it being spelled out and that is brilliant. I love a book that assumes I’m intelligent enough to get what the reader means, without it being entirely spelled out for me.

I’m delighted to say I have a copy of A Better Man to give away to one of my lucky readers. In order to enter the competition, please use the Rafflecopter below.

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Thanks for reading.

You can read my other book reviews here.



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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Ruth Harwood · 07/08/2015 at 08:41

I once received too much change and didn’t tell them

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 17:07

    I did that once and then I felt really guilty!

ELAINE DALE · 07/08/2015 at 17:29

eaten the last choccy biccy

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 17:06

    Oh I can relate to this one!

Sue McCarthy · 07/08/2015 at 18:14

Even though I don’t live with my parents, haven’t done for over 20 years, I hide from them that I smoke. I don’t think they’d approve.

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 17:06

    ha that’s brilliant Sue. They probably know. I knew my sister smoked for ages before she actually told me.

Laura Pritchard · 07/08/2015 at 18:21

My friends and I always used to sneak into River Dart Country Park by going the long way through the woods, coming out metres past the booth where you paid!

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 17:05

    ooh naughty! Though if they didn’t have a proper fence all the way round, that sounds like an invitation!

lynn heath · 07/08/2015 at 18:56

Does hiding in the kitchen eating a cadburys cream egg count so the kids cant have some or is that just standard parenting!!!!!

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:58

    that’s totally legit.

Alix Smith · 07/08/2015 at 19:04

I’ve been a bit sneaky with my toddler many times – the best one has to be telling her that Peppa Pig goes to bed really early so she can’t watch her on TV after 5pm!

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:57

    Oh Alix that’s a good one!

Karen Usher · 07/08/2015 at 20:57

I steal money out of my husbands wallet all the time lol…..Im a little worried that he doesn’t even realise I do it!

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:56

    lol Karen!

Jessica Powell · 08/08/2015 at 00:17

Had selective hearing when it was my turn to do something…

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:56

    ha yeah, I did that all the time when I was a kid!

Lisa Pond · 08/08/2015 at 12:33

I told my other half his expensive sunglasses were broken by our 6 month old daughter when really I’d accidentally sat on them! Whoops! :)

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:55

    oh, yikes!

Rain C · 08/08/2015 at 13:52

I loved somebody’s Christmas tree star so much that I ended up pinching it……when I was 7.

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:54

    omg… did you get found out?

      Rain C · 09/08/2015 at 15:24

      Only by my parents who gave me a severe telling off when we got home ?

Caroline Signey · 08/08/2015 at 16:33

I often have a sneaky McDonalds if I’m out on my own!

    Vicky Charles · 08/08/2015 at 16:54

    Oooh! Now we’re talking!

Emma Ellams · 09/08/2015 at 07:32

i have a secret stash of emergency chocolate. Sounds awful but needs must!

    Vicky Charles · 09/08/2015 at 13:08

    I think a lot of us have that if we’re honest!

laura stewart · 09/08/2015 at 11:31

hiding chocolate under my bed so i didnt have to share xx

    Vicky Charles · 09/08/2015 at 13:07

    oh, I think a lot of us can relate to thatone!

caroline walliss · 10/08/2015 at 06:02

Eaten the last of some nice food and blamed the kids!x

    Vicky Charles · 11/08/2015 at 21:16

    lol that’s a good one!

Pauline Wilson · 10/08/2015 at 15:36

I never lie usually but at work I fib left right and centre to customers if they are looking for something I say we don’t have it rather than look when I’m tired or can’t be bothered

    Vicky Charles · 11/08/2015 at 21:14

    *gasp* Pauline! That’s terrible!! Where do you work?
    I used to do the same when I worked evenings stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s. I couldn’t be bothered to go and wander about in the warehouse!

Jo Glasspool · 12/08/2015 at 22:33

Ate the last of the chocolate

Carrie · 15/08/2015 at 18:08

I have shared and entered. It sounds like I’d like to read. I havea review and give away going on now too. I don’t have many entrants. Suggestions?

    Vicky Charles · 16/08/2015 at 15:12

    Thanks Carrie. Have you shared it in Facebook competition groups? Also if you look on SuperLucky.me there’s a monthly linky to add your giveaways. Those are the ones I usually do.

Lauren Old · 16/08/2015 at 20:22

I once told my Mum that I was staying at my friend’s house when instead I went on a date.. It was mainly to avoid too many questions!

Eileen Tingle · 16/08/2015 at 23:10

I once scratched the car and kept quiet about it letting my husband think he must have done it!

Alison Drew · 17/08/2015 at 10:12

Hmmmm, the ‘usual’ telling the OH that it’s an old dress IF he notices I’ve bought something new lol

Ellen Stafford · 17/08/2015 at 20:52

Have a sneaky bar of chocolate ;-)

Kerry Kilmister · 18/08/2015 at 12:57

I’ve been sneaky on a diet before and eaten treats that I shouldn’t have. Not really good in the long run for me!

Michelle Wild · 18/08/2015 at 17:31

I bought a pair of trousers, took them up then returned them later in exchange for a bigger size.

Minnie15 · 18/08/2015 at 22:32

I always buy treats for my daughter and eat them myself first. It’s not a problem (yet!) as usually try and replace straight away :) x

Victoria Langley · 19/08/2015 at 01:23

I had a late doctors appt and although I could have made it back to work I would have only managed to do about 45 minutes work after getting there so I told them the appt ran late and did not travel back. Felt bad but it was 30 min bus journey at minimum and any longer would have been at work only 30 mins.

Sarah Parker · 19/08/2015 at 07:45

i’ve eaten my kids sweets :(

    Vicky Charles · 19/08/2015 at 12:27


Rich Tyler · 19/08/2015 at 10:28

Eating biscuits late@night eek!

Stephen Little · 19/08/2015 at 16:42

I remember being fond of “scrumping” when I was a kid!

caroline tokes · 19/08/2015 at 17:22

having a sneaky party as a teenager when my parents were out

Karen Gray · 19/08/2015 at 17:59

I once bought my dad a box of chocolates for Father’s Day. I hid them in my room…but the wrappers looked so pretty and shiny, so I thought I would carefully undo the seal and sneak one out to try them. Well, one turned into two and by the time Father’s Day came round, there was about 2 left in the box (strawberry creams I think). I still gave the box to him and bless him, he still pretended to be delighted. I think he was surprised that any chocolates made it to him at all!

lishy · 19/08/2015 at 19:46

munch on the pic n mix in the store :)

LEE HARDY · 19/08/2015 at 21:12

Pinching ham out of the fridge.

Claire Elizabeth Noke · 19/08/2015 at 21:37

I hide a few chocolate biccies in a tea-bag tin in the top cupboard, where the kids cant reach !! LOL xxx

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