The Adulterer’s Handbook by Sam Anthony
When I read the title of Sam Anthony’s book, I was both intrigued and, honestly, a bit reluctant whether a book about cheating will be up my reading alley. If you’re wondering the same, I’m here to tell you that The Adulterer’s Handbook is a book that deals with adultery, but it is also so, so much more than that.
The first thing that got me interested in reading The Adulterer’s Handbook is actually the opportunity to read about the subject of infidelity from a man’s perspective. I was so eager to see how the author handled relationships between characters, their emotions, psychologies, and all possible plot twists that would follow unfaithful characters.
First of all, meet Lee Bolton. Lee considers himself a happily married man, with two children and a wife any man would be proud of. He loves his wife Tamsin, and they both are dedicated parents. However, Lee and Tamsin are starting to drift apart. He feels like she is less enthusiastic in the bedroom. At the same time, Lee receives more and more attention from his coworker Sofia. With her cheerful, easygoing personality, Sofia makes advances towards Lee, who, while trying to resist and remain faithful to his wife, finally caves in and has an affair with her.
They try to make a long list of rules with the most important being: don’t fall in love. One thing leading to another, it starts to look like Sofia is breaking that very same rule as she becomes more obsessed, giving the book true Fatal Attraction atmosphere.
As we dive more into the story, we see how characters twist and bend the rules, all to cover up the deception and avoid getting exposed. Things spiral out of control, making us see the protagonists‘ many flaws. The thing I found most interesting is that Lee isn’t simply a one dimensional character presented as a hero. He‘s more of an anti-hero who, although he would say for himself he is a good man, he still goes down the road of deceit. Once the reader accepts Lee as the flawed, selfish character he is, the book becomes even more enjoyable.
The Adulterer’s Handbook is full of twists and turns, going from romantic atmosphere to psychological thrills and chills. Although there aren’t many characters in the book, each one of them is very well-defined with their own agendas and motivations. Some of them become more clear just near the end, keeping readers well on their toes.
As we follow the characters, some of them will make you smile (like Lee’s rationalizations and monologues), some will make you mad, but what I loved the most is that my opinion about them kept unexpectedly changing, which only says more about characters’ great development.
The Adulterer’s Handbook will surely grab your attention in most surprising ways, especially if you would expect it to simply be a book about cheating. It is not.
Although there are many enjoyable aspects of the book, there are also some challenges which would require a bit more careful reading. In the first third of the book, we follow time jumps between when the story takes place, as well as when the affair started a few months earlier. Time jumps sure make for a great storytelling, but sometimes they can be a bit confusing, especially if the switch isn’t clear enough.
I have thoroughly enjoyed The Adulterer’s Handbook, because it kept me guessing what will happen next, and whether or not Lee will manage to save his life from spiraling out of control. It was as funny as it was nerve wracking. I did find the ending a bit abrupt as we’re left with a cliff-hanger, but once I saw that the sequel is on the way, it felt a lot more natural.
Sam Anthony’s writing style easily puts you in the mind of a character, but it also manages to surprise you all the time. Some aspects of the plot could use a bit more of foreshadowing, although it makes me more curious about the sequel and what will be revealed in it.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is thirsty for a good romantic, psychological thriller!