His Lovely Wife - Elizabeth Dewberry

When tall, blond, and beautiful Ellen Baxter enters the Paris Ritz the day before Princess Diana dies, she’s mistaken for Diana by the paparazzi. The next morning, as Ellen’s older, Nobel-laureate husband attends a physics conference, she goes to the site of the fatal crash and finds an uncharacteristic photograph of Diana. Surprised by how deeply the death has affected her, Ellen pockets the photo. As she hears Diana’s voice in her head and begins to understand the parallels between their lives, she tracks down the person who took the photograph, hoping that this man who deals in surfaces can penetrate her beauty, as he did Diana’s, and help her love the woman inside. Elizabeth Dewberry’s complex, surprising novel uses string theory to weave together two women’s lives and explore a culture that celebrates women for their beauty―then exacts a terrible toll.





American Ellen Baxter travels with her Nobel Laureate husband to Paris, where he is to attend a physics conference. As he socializes with colleagues at the hotel restaurant -- "the most interesting conversation I've had in months" --- nice of him to say to his wife *eye roll* --- she decides to take in the sights of the city.


Ellen's first day in Paris happens to be the day before the tragic death of Princess Diana. Papparazzi mistake Ellen for Diana. It confuses her, but after the crash Ellen feels compelled to visit the site of the wreck. There at the site, and after (back at the Paris Ritz Hotel), Ellen begins to hear the voice of Diana and gradually begins to see interesting parallels between their lives.


The cover of this book might lead you to believe you're going into a fluff read. At times it is, but largely the story ends up being much more layered than it lets on. Through the story of Diana's sad marriage, difficult divorce and untimely death, we also learn of similar hardships in Ellen's marriage (minus the death part, obviously). Put the two stories together, and the reader gets a compelling study of a woman's role as a wife in general terms --- the good and the bad, the struggle to get out from under the shadow of a spouse society deems the more successful one. But no worries, it's not all heavy. There's plenty of humor slid into the mix as well. This story had me thinking how entertaining it might have been to trade mother-in-law venting stories with Diana! 


A couple of things for readers to note:


* There are no chapter divisions in this book, only paragraph breaks to indicate scene change --- just a heads up if you're a stickler about format.


* Some of Ellen's inner thoughts are pretty sexually explicit or otherwise graphic... again, just a warning for readers who prefer to keep their stories tame.


If you're at all interested in anything to do with the Princess Diana story, this novel is a unique take on the events, while also bringing in thought provoking commentary on the concepts of domestic harmony and maintaining a strong sense of self-worth while in a partnership.






* When picking up this book, you may notice that it is dedicated to the novelist Robert Olen Butler. Elizabeth Dewberry was previously married to Butler, but the marriage crumbled after a rather public revealing of an affair with media mogul Ted Turner.