Thursday's book: The Warrior Queen by Barbara Else (Pan, pounds 5.99)

Watching her husband's plump, unpyjamaed bottom "march" into a Sydney hotel bathroom, Kate Wildburn knows something is up. This sudden display of territorial assertiveness isn't (as she originally assumes) directed at her - "I'm paying for this room, I'll do just what I like for once" - but is rather the relaxed confidence of a man who knows he's loved by two women.

Until now, Kate's life has been that of any other doctor's wife living in a comfortable New Zealand suburb. A devoted mother to three teenage children, she works as a fundraiser for the local "schizos", lunches on shrimp and avocado with the other wives, and accompanies husband Richard on his "Eeternational conferences" to "Mexeeco Ceety" and the like. She is a genuinely happy woman who takes daily pleasure in her new see-thru Bodum teapot and Sergio Armani shoes.

So when she discovers a $118 invoice from the Glade Motor Inn in her husband's blazer pocket, it takes a few bottles of Coonawarra Red and a visit to a therapist before the penny finally drops. But when it does - and Kate finds out who Richard has been "playing squash" with every Thursday afternoon - there emerges from the emotional ashes a finer, stronger Kate - a woman who has been taken to the cleaners once too often.

Liberated from her Wendy Craig-like domesticity, and with the help of best friend Libb, Kate embarks on a campaign of carefully orchestrated persecution. First stop is the Local Friendly Chemist, where she purchases a basket full of "Ultra Sensitive" condoms and, once home, proceeds to stuff them into Richard's suit pockets. Several packets end up humiliating him in front of a group of nurses. Other ruses include a delivery of pig's manure to his love-nest in downtown Remuera and the services of an uninvited call girl. Most infuriatingly, Kate gets herself a job.

As stories of female revenge go, this first novel by playwright Barbara Else follows a fairly traditional route, leading out of the kitchen and into therapy; but unlike fellow Antipodean writers Kathy Lette and Tyne O'Connell, she does so with the minimal number of exclamation marks and ironic one-liners. At her sharpest when describing the Wellington social scene (with some nice moments over medallions of kangaroo and raspberry coulis) Else is also surprisingly sweet when it comes to Kate's relationship with her well-meaning but downwardly-mobile children. Not yet as practised in the arts of white witchery as our own Fay Weldon, but well on her way, Else has no shortage of good material to draw on from this strange country of hers - which lies somewhere between Croydon and California.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells