Seven years ago, a man named Frasier McCleod had come to her home in Broadstairs, in Kent, in search of a painting by an artist he hoped to meet: a painting called Dearest Rose. Realizing that the man is looking for her father, John Jacobs, who abandoned her and her mother when she was just nine years old, Rose immediately feels a special connection to Frasier. And when he sends her a postcard a little while later, she clings to the memory and builds up a fantasy love interest. Someone to rescue her.
For Rose’s marriage to Dr. Richard Pritchard, beloved by all who know him in their community, is a nightmare of abuse, mostly emotional, but escalating to more brutal abuse in recent years. After one night when the abuse crosses a line, Rose flees with Maddie, heading straight to the one place where she might connect again with Frasier.
Rose begins to feel at home in this small village, and surprisingly, discovers that her father is also living there. Reuniting with him and introducing him to Maddie brings a feeling of new beginnings to her life. But will Rose and her father be able to make up for the years they lost? Can she forgive him for how he walked away? And what unexpected tragedies lie just ahead?
As for Richard, will Rose really stay away from him, since he has managed to control her so many times before? And hovering overhead throughout, as Rose gradually learns to redefine herself, is the knowledge that Richard will eventually find her. Will Rose discover that her growing strength is reinforced by the new community and family she has created? And will she find love again, or will she revert to poor choices?
The Runaway Wife delves into issues of domestic abuse, abandonment, and the creative spirit. The characters, especially Rose and Maddie, were well-developed and mostly likeable. An unforgettable story. 4.0 stars.