Harper | 2017
Filed Under: My rage knows no bounds!
“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
This quote from the 1967 film, COOL HAND LUKE, basically sums up how I’m feeling after reading this book. And I’ve never even seen the movie. The quote just came to me, as a thing I know somehow, deep from within the pop culture recesses of my mind. There’s a lot of useless information in there.
I might also go with: “…in the galaxy of This Sucks Camel Dicks!” -Stepbrothers.
What I mean to say: I wish the publishers hadn’t stuffed this novel into the psychological-thriller genre just because that’s where all the cool kids are, and had instead been honest about what this book is – a dark romance meets women’s fiction meets soap opera intrigue with a terrible, TERRIBLE fucking message.
I’m sorry, but I am not thrilled.
Had I known this from the start, I would have passed on reading it, because this level of dramatic soap-opera nutty-ness is just not my thing. It lacks humour and humanity and is overpopulated with terrible one-liners, clichés and silly dialogue and tropes that felt like a copy of a copy of a copy, to paraphrase Palahniuk.
Not to mention, the internal misogyny that permeates the entire theme gets my feminist hackles up.
Anyway… I didn’t know I shouldn’t read this, so I did, and now I have library late fees and a shitty review to write, so buckle up, bitches!
(This could get mildly spoiler-y because I’m going to rant, so if you’re super excited to read this, here’s my takeaway: Don’t waste your time with this, unless you’re cool with domestic abuse being legitimized. Otherwise, read on!)
First of all, this is boring. That’s the most concise way to describe it. It’s slow with dull scenes. It’s so overtly dramatic in the boring elements that it becomes comical and cheesy. Ohhhhhh more rich people events with wildly cliché conversation? More descriptions of fancy clothes and designer labels and expensive underwear and boats and bikinis and hot bodies? Please, please, tell me again what else these people are spending their excessive amounts of money on!
For the first third of the book, we follow Amber Patterson as she enacts her plan to steal someone’s rich, powerful husband. Amber is a one-dimensional douche-canoe who is absolutely agonizing to read. She’s a hateful, conniving con-artist for seemingly no real reason, other than she grew up poor and believes she deserves better, and the only way to get “better” is with butt-loads of money.
She has zero redeeming qualities, not even a modicum of a sympathetic trait. She’s absolutely spiteful in her self-righteous belief that she could be a better rich asshole than all the other rich assholes. As if there’s some kind of virtue in aspiring to be the absolute worst.
Amber teaches herself about everything that a cultured, wealthy person would apparently know. She reads The Odyssey and becomes an amateur sommelier and learns about real estate and art and hedge funds. You’d think that someone who is that driven and smart would want to go to University and aspire to be a CEO or something, in charge of her own money with her own power. But no, Amber just wants to be some fucking man’s rich wife. Yawnnnn.
She’s a completely insufferable character, and you truly start to wonder what the authors were thinking in their creation of her until the book switches over to the POV of Daphne Parrish, the woman whose husband Amber is intent on stealing. I was honestly so relieved when I left Amber behind – I wasn’t sure how much more of her I could take.
Daphne, from Amber’s perspective, has it all. From the beautiful kids that the nanny takes care of, to the closet full of designer clothes, to the fleet of cars and the private chef and the estate-sized mansion and the expensive vacations. Down to the perfect, powerful, wealthy husband who provides it all and is, of course, gorgeous and desired by every woman in Daphne’s social circle. Mr. Jackson Parrish.
Listen, Elon Musk might be able to buy himself hair but he can’t make himself hot. That’s the balance of the universe.
Underneath the opulence and money, however, Jackson is a controlling, abusive, waste of oxygen. There are small hints leading up to the change in POV that there is something dark about Jackson, but the shift in perspective brings it all rapidly to the forefront of the story because it is the forefront of Daphne’s life.
Okay, I shouldn’t say rapidly. First, we need to get through how Daphne met Jackson, their first date, meeting the parents and getting married and going on a honeymoon and having a baby and like, every other major milestone in a married couple’s life before gasp! Jackson is really a total dick punch?! Say it isn’t so.
Now…this is where I start getting ranty.
Up until this point, I was willing this give this book 3 stars, call it just so-so and kind of Lifetime movie-esque and move on with my life. Except, it is here, in the last third of the book, that the tagline really starts to reveal its true meaning.
“Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.”
What Daphne deserves is to be free of Jackson. To regain control of her life, and the lives of her children and move on from the prison she has been living in, even if she had “everything”. Okay, great. Agreed. You can’t put a price on freedom.
But in order for Daphne to escape her personal hell, Amber must take her place in her abusive marriage. And we, as the readers, are supposed to want this. We’re supposed to cheer this. We’re supposed to think it’s an inspired twist!
This is why the authors created such a one-dimensional, unsympathetic cunt of a character in Amber. So that when Daphne’s “clever” plan succeeds and Amber becomes the new Mrs. Jackson Parrish, the reader says: “Yes, good! She deserves this!”
We’re supposed to want a woman to be a victim of domestic abuse and rape because that is a just punishment.
Are you fucking kidding me?
I could see this coming, but I hoped it wasn’t true. I kept my fingers crossed that Daphne and Amber would find a way to join forces and destroy Jackson together. I was still hoping I would end up back at a three-star rating. But nooooooo.
I don’t care how awful Amber is, or how many heartless things she did in pursuit of her morally bankrupt and superficial goal – this is not a thing to wish on someone. Prison time? Sure, that would have looked more like justice. But, I’m literally stunned that an active choice was made by the authors to convince readers that it’s fun and entertaining to witness an unlikable character become a victim of domestic abuse and rape.
Anyone who gave this book 4 or 5 stars really needs to examine why this “twist” didn’t bother you. I mean, if you totally loved the book, I’m not here to judge your review… but, just think about it. Because, honestly, for as cheesy and boring and soap-opera-y as this novel is, the resolution to Daphne’s problems and what Amber “deserves” is fucked up and no one should be okay with this kind of narrative device – one that tells us women can deserve to be victims of abuse if they are unlikable enough.
It’s sick. Sorry, not sorry.
It takes a lot for me to hand out a one-star review. I save those for flaming piles of shit. But, I’m making an exception in this case. I think I kind of totally hated this deeply on principle alone.
Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent