Chicklit Club
 

MIKE BULLEN

 

Trust (2015)

 

Greg and Amanda are happily married, his colleague Dan and his wife Sarah not so much. When Greg and Dan get chatting to two women at a conference, they’re both faced with the question of whether they will cheat on their wife or not. Their decisions will have repercussions that neither of them could have foreseen. Having never seen Mike Bullen’s trademark TV show Cold Feet, I can’t say how this debut novel compares, but he’s obviously a canny writer with a knack for comedic flair and astute observations of relationships and daily life. It’s not often that a writer can get you laughing on the first page, and what’s more sustain that successfully throughout, but Bullen proves his comic pedigree by doing just that. At times his humour does, inevitably, border on the laddish, but most of it is universally accurate. He also does a decent job of drawing his female characters, and although the two central female protagonists perhaps have stronger moral compasses than their husbands that may seem to split this into gendered roles, the same can’t be said for the other two women involved in the extramarital relationships. It’s perhaps worth noting however that all the men in the book, except a hotel receptionist who we hardly see, either pursue or actively engage in extramarital relationships, even teenager Russell is prone to a wandering eye! Whilst I enjoyed the decisions Bullen took in the plots, Amanda and Greg remained somewhat in the dark and I would have liked a fuller resolution there. However, I loved the ambiguous ending with Dan and the moral questions the novel raises about what constitutes cheating, whether it’s best to forgive and move forward and whether once a cheater, always a cheater. Bullen shows a natural skill for writing, and for me the novel pitches itself alongside those of Nick Spalding in terms of humour and style, although a bit more coarse. This is a strong start to what could be a very impressive novel-writing career. (JC) 8/10

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