Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon is about Helen, an almost 40 year old secretary in a London PR firm who for 4 years has been having an affair with her boss, Matthew- 20 years her senior. She sees him 3 nights a week in her cramped apartment.
The book opens in bed with the alarm going off and Matthew getting up and getting ready to leave the house. But this is not 8am, it’s 8pm, and he is not simply leaving for work, he is going home to his beautiful house, his lovely wife Sophie, and his two beloved daughters. Helen’s life is small and pitiful- her career has been downsized because of her affair- she transferred to a different department, thus being labeled as difficult. She has one friend and virtually no social life. She’s self absorbed, shallow and petty, and she’s constantly begging Matthew to leave his wife.
Matthew has agreed to see her over a long holiday weekend, but completely forgets about it during the festivities at his house. He steals away to call her behind closed doors and she realizes he’s forgotten. They have a fight and she refuses to see or talk to him for a couple weeks, during which time she makes up her mind to end the relationship. But before she can end it, Matthew tells his wife everything and shows up on Helen’s doorstep with his bags in hand. Rather than being honest (no one in this book is honest), she decides to give it a go, because she’s flattered that he left his family for her. He regularly reminds her of his great sacrifice.
From there things go downhill. As Helen and Matthew’s relationship goes public, the office is abuzz, and it isn’t pretty. Helen is disturbed that people see Matthew as an old man, not the ‘catch’ she always thought him to be, and she is embarrassed by that (although she doesn’t seem embarrassed by the fact that she’s been doing the boss for years- only that people see him as old).
Helen decides the only way to get rid of the old man is to somehow get him back together with his wife. Soon she is stalking Sophie and through a series of unlikely events, befriends her under the fake name of Eleanor. Eleanor/Helen and Sophie strike up a friendship and it isn’t long before that friendship becomes more important to Helen than the relationship with Matthew. Sophie wants Matthew back, so Helen uses that to her advantage and plots to get the two back together. Through Sophie she also meets Leo, an attractive man her own age, who she finds herself wanting to get to know. Turns out he’s Matthew’s son from his first marriage. Helen finds herself in quite a pickle and I kept reading at this point just waiting for the inevitable train wreck.
This book is chock full of negative clichés, horrible people, and foul language. Helen is the homewrecker, Matthew is the textbook cheating husband, Sophie is the wronged woman who wants the bastard back despite everything, the bitches in the office are full of gossip and backstabbing. Everyone is drinking way too much, all the time. The versatile F word is on nearly every page in various forms- as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb- and in one particularly creative sentence was used 4 times. Apparently it’s the new “bloody”. There are a lot of British references and colloquialisms that I didn’t get or didn’t find funny. In fact, I didn’t find anything funny in this book- it’s completely unfunny and unlikeable. But I must say something nice- so I’ll say that I do like the cover and the title, and the quality of the writing. But that’s about all I can say. If I were the type to give out stars, Getting Rid of Matthew would get only one.