In Leigh Himes’ The One That Got Away, Abbey Lahey is an overworked, overwhelmed mother of two. She and her husband, Jimmy, are at each other’s throats and barely making ends meet. To add insult to injury, Jimmy shames Abbey into returning the one luxury item in her otherwise fraying wardrobe, a Marc Jacobs bucket bag. Abbey meant the red leather accessory to be a talisman of her former self- an energetic, ambitious PR exec without kids, money woes, or a credit-stealing younger boss.
And now she’ll have to beg the Nordstrom returns clerk to take the bag back.
It’s on her way to the counter that fate strikes: the fall from the escalator looks like “some strangely choreographed high dive,” and when she wakes in a nearby hospital, she’s no longer Abbey Lahey, wedded to Jimmy, the struggling landscaper. She’s Abigail van Holt, wife and strategic partner of Alex, candidate for U.S. Congress and member of Philadelphia’s social elite.
Although she has no memory of her history in this new life beyond the one time in her early 20s when she turned Alex down for a date (presumably, in this new reality, she’d accepted), Abbey finds she lives in an impeccable apartment with a closet full of extravagant handbags, personal stylists on call, and a magazine-perfect husband. Her own hardened body, smooth skin, and ample household help make for a dream come true.
Of course, any reader of contemporary women’s fiction will know immediately that a seemingly ideal life never actually is. And, predictably, Abbey realizes that when she became wealthy, she sacrificed some of her core values. These are personified in the character of Jules, Abbey’s BFF in the Lahey version of her life, and who won’t even take her calls when she’s a van Holt.
It took me too many pages (150?) to really care about these characters, but as I stuck with it, I became invested. I enjoyed Abbey’s interactions with her conniving mother-in-law and her long-suffering nanny. While I anticipated the ending, there are several engaging plot points that highlight Himes’ themes of empowerment and self-renewal along the way.
Overall, this is a solid three-star pick for readers who’ve enjoyed other Sliding Doors-type stories like Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot or Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m grateful to TLC book tours and Hachette for providing me with a copy in exchange for a fair review.
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