Viking, Dec 2003, 24.95, 304 pp.
For almost two decades Fanny Savage has been the perfect political wife doing whatever her beloved Will needed. As she turns closer to fifty, Fanny knows she sacrificed her own needs to support whatever Will required of her as a spousal paragon. Will has become a British cabinet minister, but has higher aspirations.
As their only child graduates high school, Fanny feels a deep need to achieve self actuation as opposed to spousal actualization. Fanny is tired of Will's staff, cronies, and his older sister. She resents her lot in life, but partially blames herself for sheepishly quitting her father's wine business to become a full time model spouse. When her father dies, Fanny finds solace in the Italian town that she grew up in and decides the time is now even if it means leaving Will, who she admits she still loves. Since Fanny went to Italy to bring her father home, Will's life collapses as his sibling dies and he loses reelection, but what scares him most is Fanny not coming back.
Elizabeth Buchan provides a deep character study of a loyal woman finding no satisfaction doing the apparent right thing. Fanny is a fabulous protagonist as she loves her husband, but also begrudges that he and to her credit, she shares culpability for ignoring her dreams to achieve Will's aspirations. Though Will's fall from grace makes his concerns about Fanny much easier for him to ponder than if he continued to rise, fans will appreciate this delightful update of Ibsen's A Doll's House with the coming out of this middle aged woman, who simply wants a life of her own.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner