MY FAVOURITE HUSBAND by Pam McCutcheon is a romantic comedy based on the classic movie My Favourite Wife (1940) starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. I am a huge fan of the screwball films of the 1930s and 1940s, and I am relieved to report this book is a comic hoot.
Missing for five years and presumed dead, Chaz returns home on the day of his funeral, where he reunites with his wife, Kelly. There’s just one problem. She married her second husband, Spencer, that morning. What is a girl to do? A bigamy charge is the least of her worries compared to deciding which husband to choose.
So far-fetched so good, with the scene set for a wonderfully outrageous plot when Kelly decamps to a hotel. Where she spends her honeymoon fighting off the attentions of both her husbands. Throw in her disapproving mother, supportive brother, her boss Candace (who is broken-hearted because she is in love with Spencer), and you have an explosive mix. And, the catalyst is Garcia. She is the woman with whom Chaz spent five years “lost” in the jungle. Garcia wants to marry him and brings her brothers along to ensure Chaz makes an honest woman of her.
You know the ending, but the fun is watching them get there. The book is formulaic and the pace flags in places, but McCutcheon writes with such verve and energy, you don’t care.
If you want a story grounded in reality with deep characters, avoid. However, if you don’t mind a dose of the frivolous and characters who occasionally border on the caricature, then dive in and enjoy this crazy romp. Or, to misquote Bette Davis; fasten your seatbelts for a bumpy ride.
A note for film buffs:
There was an attempt to remake My Favourite Wife in 1962 as Something’s Got to Give with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. But the project was abandoned when Monroe died in August 1962. The film was eventually remade as Move Over Darling in 1963 with Doris Day and James Garner.