The Inconstant Husband

Written by Susan Barrett
Review by Sara Wilson

The 19th century is in its closing years, and Rose Seaton is bored with her life as the daughter of a well-to-do iron manufacturer. Then one day Patrick McKinley, a handsome if disreputable artist, literally steps into her drawing room and into her life. Given the chance to make a satisfactory marriage and keep her parents happy, Rose decides rather to run away and live a raggle-taggle life on the continent with her bohemian suitor.

Aided and abetted by her cousins, Edy and Guy, Rose soon discovers that her new lifestyle brings with it as many lows as it does highs. That Patrick loves her she does not doubt, but Patrick also loves money and himself in equal quantities, making the outlook rather uncertain for the naïve Rose. Whatever else, life is never boring, but is that enough?

The Inconstant Husband is a coming-of-age tale, following Rose’s development from innocent flower to resolute woman. Her many vacillations could have become irritating in the hands of a lesser novelist, so it is all credit to Susan Barrett that Rose’s character sustains the action, and the reader’s interest, from beginning to end. Likewise Patrick’s inconstancy remains charming and boyish rather than descending into parody or frustration.

This is a worthy follow up to Susan’s Barrett’s debut novel Fixing Shadows and marks her out as a novelist to look out for in the coming years.