I suspect this book will be very popular as it’s one featuring a clever and conniving narrative… like good ol’ Gone Girl, The Girl on The Train, The Girl Before and more recently Anatomy of a Scandal.
And – we know it’s twisty, because the back cover blurb tells us so.
The Wife Between Us
by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Published by Macmillan
on January 30th 2018
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1509842810, 9781509842810
"The woman before . . .
Vanessa and Richard fell deeply in love and were married for seven years - until he left her for another woman, someone younger and more desirable. She now spends her days immersed in painful memories, trying to decipher how it all went so wrong. Of course, she isn’t blameless - she was never the woman Richard thought she was.
. . . the woman after
Nellie is engaged to the man of her dreams. Caring, charismatic and accomplished, Richard provides her with the security she has always craved. But as their wedding draws closer, she can’t shake the sense that someone is watching her. That someone is following her wherever she goes.
The wife in between . . .
No one knows the truth about what really happens within a marriage, even a seemingly happy one. But Vanessa is certain of one thing: She will do whatever it takes to stop Richard’s wedding before it’s too late . . ."
I actually think the blurb gives too much away. I basically guessed most of the twist because I knew to look for the unexpected.
It’s been a long time since we discovered Bruce Willis was dead in The Sixth Sense or Norman Bates’ mother was long gone in Psycho. We’re more inured to the twists and turns thrown our way by slightly-warped (in a good way!) creative types. In fact, if Silence of the Lambs was released now we’d probably assume Clarice Starling was somehow manipulating Hannibal Lector’s carnivorous urges cos of some childhood trauma and they held a long-hidden secret connection. Or at least I would.
Anyhoo… that side, this book opens with alternating chapters from two points of view: 27yr old Nellie, a kindergarten teacher with a traumatic secret, but about to be whisked away for her ‘happily-ever-after’ by the decade older, wealthy and charismatic Richard; and Vanessa, who’s divorced from Richard and kinda reminiscent of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. She drinks heavily, lives in a spare room at her aunt’s since her divorce and struggles to hold down a job. She tells us herself that their separation was mostly her fault and (when speaking of her aunt’s sympathy) suggests….
The compassion would be erased from her expression if she knew of my role in our demise. p 13
Vanessa is brutally honest with us. We get the impression she’s a shell of her former self, horrified at her behaviour towards the end of her marriage; and is obviously obsessed with her ex-husband’s new fiancé.
My notes reflect my suspicions that Richard has a type. Both female narrators seem vulnerable. They’re escaping troubled pasts and one can imagine some men would think they needed ‘saving’ and Richard obviously sees himself as that kind of man.
It’s mostly through Nellie though, that our spidey senses tingle as we see how controlling and manipulative Richard can be. Vanessa’s got her share of troubled anecdotes, but they’re slower in coming and she isn’t the most reliable of storytellers.
I wasn’t surprised by the first twist… as I said, I was waiting for it. It was one of several options I pondered as I read the book. Hendricks and Pekkanen throw a couple of additional curve balls in for good measure and one (the final one) I didn’t expect.
Both Nellie and Vanessa are well-drawn and the authors do a great job at allowing readers to identify with both women… but at the same time watch them with a sense of detachment (and I mean that in a good way). We’re able to sense that things will come to a head in a not-pleasant way and in many ways we realise it needs to happen.
We know (in particular) that Nellie is often on edge for a reason, because of something from her past and Hendricks and Pekkanen time that ‘reveal’ well, allowing readers to understand the impact it has on her many years later.
Interestingly (and impressively) however, there’s a confronting reminder that we tend to dread and fear things that can’t (or won’t) harm us, not expecting those that can… and do.
This book is most certainly domestic noir at its most dark and distrustful and should prove popular with readers, critics and book clubs.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and available in late January.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.