Book review: The Wife by Alafair Burke

Saturday, February 17, 2018 Permalink

I’ve talked before about how much I love former prosecutor turned novelist Alafair Burke. I read her collaborations with Mary Higgins Clark but much prefer her solo work, including her series featuring Ellie Hatcher and most recently, The Ex, published last year.

Her latest, The Wife, is another standalone. It was just out in the US when I received it for review (as I’d seen Alafair promoting it) but when I started reading was worried I’d somehow (inexplicably) read it before.

I realised however, it was because the notion of a adulterous husband, wronged women, the downtrodden (or at least, unaware) wife and the he said/she said scenario has been a popular theme in my recent reads. (Anatomy of a Scandal, The Confession and The Wife Between Us come to mind.)

Book review: The Wife by Alafair BurkeThe Wife
by Alafair Burke
Published by Faber & Faber
on February 1st 2018
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 0571328180, 9780571328185
Pages: 352

When Angela met Jason Powell, while catering a function in the Hamptons, she assumed their romance would be a fling. But, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. The marriage meant a fresh start, a chance for Angela and her young son to move to Manhattan where no one knew of her tragic past.

Six years later, her husband has become a successful and celebrated liberal figurehead, but when a college intern and then another woman come forward with allegations against him, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, but Angela is forced to ask how well she ever really knew her husband, and if she can afford to stand by him and risk her own past being revealed.

Once I realised I was NOT reading something I’d already read (ie. this wasn’t a re-release) I settled in to enjoy this book. There are similarities to the other novels I mentioned earlier but the plot is different enough that it offers up something new.

What surprised me about this book and an element I very much enjoyed was the fact that Burke wasn’t tempted to really demonise Jason. Sure, there’s uncertainty about his conduct towards other women and eventually it seems as if he’s guilty of something…. although maybe not what he’s accused of. But, there’s no doubt that he believes in his work; and has integrity where that’s concerned; and he loves his wife and son. The fact that he’s willing to do almost anything to protect his family’s privacy and livelihood (including sacrifice himself, in some ways) gave him extra credit as far as I was concerned.

Of course, Angela has her own secret(s) in this book. We learn most of her story pretty early on. I actually guessed at part of the rest of it, but not all. Regular readers will know my mind is pretty twisted and I’m a natural cynic so I tend to expect the worst from everyone.

When Angela and Jason meet he’s a lowly academic and only later achieves fame and fortune but I must admit I was suspicious of his motives towards Angela and son in the beginning given that he pursued her so doggedly.

It certainly speaks to my cynicism re love, and / or my suspicious nature that I expected Jason to have some ulterior motive for pursuing the young single mother and being so accepting of her son… given their circumstances. I kept thinking there was going to be some nefarious ‘reveal’ involving a link between Jason and ‘what happened to’ Angela when she was younger.

Anyhoo… there’s some twisty stuff at the end of the book and it’s a little open-ended so readers aren’t entirely sure what ‘might’ come next. It was an ending I enjoyed and a relief it didn’t diminish on my enjoyment of the rest of the book, which often happens (as I’m a tad fussy about my conclusions).

So, another great read from Alafair Burke – just cementing her as one of my favourite authors and a go-to for consistently complex and twisty psychological thrillers.

And bonus points for name-dropping her writing friend (and another fave of mine, Lisa Unger) in the book AND including the not-so-well-known south-eastern country of Mozambique (via reference only) in this book. (I lived in Mozambique’s capital Maputo when doing volunteer work for about 16mths in the mid 1990s so it was a blast from the past!)

The Wife by Alafair Burke was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.



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