Issue 17’s Review
The Other Woman by Kylie Jones (self-published)
A collaborative review between Shelley Timms, Jessica Wilson-Smith, and Kate Lomas Glendenning (this review can be found in issue 17: The Hitchhiker)
The Other Woman is the heart-wrenching true story of a woman coming to terms with her husband transitioning into a woman, and subsequent fall out from his confession. Author, Kylie Jones, bravely reopens old wounds to reveal a raw and poignant story to readers, divulging a side of transitioning that is rarely discussed in literature. Kylie’s grief and anger are keenly felt throughout the book, and she often compares losing her husband to The Other Woman as to mourning his death. From the beginning we know the inevitable end but the journey is unknown. The events that unravel are not shocking but the reactions of the characters are memorable and words between them are unforgettable and cruel. This book is about someone within and without. This process isn’t happening to Kylie but it still affects her.
“I never got to say goodbye.”
A poignant part of the autobiography is the discussion of transitioning being similar to experiencing a death. Not only was Colin lost physically but also emotionally he changed before Kylie’s eyes, becoming someone unrecognisable. Ambiguous loss isn’t something talked about often; how can you grieve for someone who technically is still alive but no longer exists? However the tone Kylie uses describes a very raw and painful grieving process to her readers.
The topic of transitioning is discussed with sensitivity, but Kylie boldly offers an uncensored insight into her own personal experiences, which can make the reader uncomfortable. Anne, her husband, Colin’s, chosen transgender name, is described at times as selfish and disrespectful, especially around their children. There are reoccurring scenes in the book where Kylie drives
Anne to her therapy appointments, going out of her way to drive Anne then wait in the car for her session to be over. Whilst driving her home Anne would naively discuss her appointment and declare how unhappy she was with her life and marriage as a man. Kylie never confronts Anne about these statements but silently basks in the humiliation.
One of the most heartbreaking scenes is when Anne reveals that she has never enjoyed making love to Kylie, and did so out of pity. It was a jaw-dropping moment in the book and one that stood out to all of the reviewers. The scene was brutal, her husband was relaxed, glad to get this off his chest and oblivious to the pain he had inflicted on her. What punctures the scene is Kylie’s silence and disbelief and anguish, her humiliation is keenly felt and adds to the depth of the story.
Kylie’s resentment towards her husband’s transition is evident through comments that are sometimes played as humorous. An example of this would be when she says, just because he was becoming a woman doesn’t mean he was becoming a housewife. All the ‘wifely duties’ were being left to her. In that regard, he remained just as he was. Whilst she makes jokes like this, it is obvious she is still in great pain. Colin didn’t just transition from a man to a woman. He also became a different person, he was manipulative and down right cruel in some scenes.
Kylie’s unapologetic re-telling of the events of her family being torn apart by Anne, is incredibly brave. The grueling process of transitioning is one that we have seen in the media a lot recently, with people like Caitlyn Jenner being the figurehead of the issue.
Family and friend’s reactions to the transitioning is something we rarely see if at all and hence Kylie’s account should be commended for not sugar-coating her reactions to the events. The Other Woman opens up a dialogue between people transitioning and their family and friends; it gives an insight into the pain experienced by both sides.
Despite being a book about loosing her husband to The Other Woman, Kylie manages to sprinkle in some comic relief throughout, which made the book more enjoyable. When Kylie’s girls are asked why they don’t wear denim skirts anymore, their response? “Blame my dad.” Or after putting a load of washing out Kylie realizes her husband has nicer clothes then her. Whilst these scenes are hilarious they are mingled with a touch of sadness but they are a break from the tension of the other scenes.
The Other Woman is an enjoyable read but has you squirming in your seats at Kylie’s honesty. Kylie is open with her emotions and doesn’t doctor them to readers. This can be uncomfortable but it rings true and is a bold move. Some parts of the book are slightly problematic, but overall the Underground Writers team found the story captivating, heartbreaking and enlightening to current social issues.