The Second Wife

Kishan Paul
The Second Wife
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Publisher
Self published
Release Date
October 2015
Genre
Romantic Suspense/Mystery

SUMMARY
If you want to live, you must let go of the past...
Twenty-eight-year-old psychologist, Alisha Dimarchi, is abducted by an obsessed client and imprisoned in his Pakistani compound for over two years. Forced to change her name and live as his second wife, her life is filled with trauma and heartbreak. Thrust into a world of violence and oppression, Ally must fight not only to keep herself alive but to protect the lives of the people she now considers family. At night, she retreats into her memories of the only man she has ever loved—a man she believes no longer loves her.

Thirty-four-year-old handsome surgeon, David Dimarchi, has spent the last two years mourning the disappearance of his wife. After a painful and isolated existence, he begins the process of healing. It is then he is visited by a stranger, who informs him that Ally is very much alive and needs his help. In a desperate attempt to save her, David enlists the help of a mercenary. Together they find themselves in the center of more than just a rescue mission. Will he be able to reach her in time, and if he does, will she still want him?

Book Review by Rebecca (author,reviewer)
Feb 29, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
122 people found the following review helpful
THE SECOND WIFE by Kishan Paul is a thriller about a woman who is kidnapped by a terrorist and the devastating impact this has, not only on Alisha herself, but on her husband, David, who was left not knowing what happened to her. The story revolves around Alisha's attempts to adjust to an extremely difficult existence in a foreign country forcibly married to a man she loathes and David's attempts to adjust to her absence, which are later redirected towards trying to rescue her.

The story begins with Alisha discovering she has been abducted and then moves between different timelines and between Ally and Dave's perspectives from chapter to chapter. I did find this a little disorientating and would have preferred the timeline to be more linear and to have had had longer with each character at a time in order to build up more of an emotional connection.

We discover that a man called Sayeed, whom Ally met when she was treating him as his psychologist, has brought her to his compound in Pakistan and made her his "second wife", hence the title of the book. He expects her to be flattered by his choice and to just accept her new life. She is slowly given more freedom but is subjected to rape, brutality and threats of harm to David and her family if she tries to escape. We are introduced to Sayeed's doctor Nasir, who tries to help Ally but is obligated to Sayeed because Sayeed is paying for his ill wife's treatment. The author also brings in some other characters within the compound such as the "first" wife Alyah and the guard, Amir. Ally forms a bond with Reema, a servant girl who has also suffered loss and who begins to talk to her when she was mute before.

The author broadens the scope of the story by bringing in Eddie, a kind of CIA mercenary, to help David and by developing the idea that Sayeed is working for a organisation much like Al Qaeda. Ally also forms a bond with the boys living there who are being trained up to be suicide bombers. I liked the way the author elicits our sympathy for these boys and allows us to see their humanity when the West just brands them as terrorists. I think the author could have built on this even more if there were more details and narrative to the relationship Ally develops with one boy, Umber.

I noticed that Ally refers to herself as Sara (her new name) from quite an early stage in the book. This was slightly confusing as a reader, especially since she was also called "Didi" (meaning sister) as well. However, it was fairly effective in putting across how Ally had to fully adopt her new identity in order to numb herself against the reality of her situation and the life she had lost.

Ally/Sara is an empathetic character and the author did a good job of making her reactions and emotions believable and making the circumstances of her new life harrowing and convincing. I also started to like Eddie, who we learn has other motives for helping David. I did find it a little strange the way Reema was constantly referred to as a child when she was an adult of eighteen, though I appreciate that this was probably to emphasise her youth and inexperience. I would have liked to learn more about her burgeoning relationship with Amir first hand. I do think that other characters and interactions could have been developed a little more. For example, we know that Sayeed is selfish and cruel but I would have liked to have a direct insight into his relationship with others, especially the boys who called him father, and to have perhaps learnt something more of his background and how his obsession with Ally grew.

I did find the ending a little anti-climatic but this was partly because I did not realise that the book was not a stand-alone novel. The story did keep my interest and the author writes well and eloquently. The many facets of the situation Ally found herself in and the way she was affected by her experience came across very well and very credibly. However, I would have liked to eventually see much more warmth and romance between David and Ally as she overcame her conditioning.

THE SECOND WIFE by Kishan Paul is a well-written story with a strong central character and an interesting, well-researched plot. It is a frank portrayal of an ordinary woman fighting to survive in a world where she has been robbed of all dignity and rights. If you are looking for something very romantic, then you won't find it with this book. However, the author tells a very plausible story and, though this book may not win you over with charm, it may instead win you over with its rawness.
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