I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.
St. Martin’s Press | 2018
Opening Hook: Wife turned ex turned stalker
Main Character: Like a baby deer learning how to walk, but after being gaslit by a psychopath
Plot Twisty-ness: More wavy, less twisty.
This book is the direction that The Last Mrs. Parrish should have gone instead of being the misogynistic piece of garbage it turned out to be. I don’t know why everyone likes that book so much, or why it’s being made into a movie, but I’m very disappointed in each and every one of you who back it as a good book. And I’m telling your fucking parents. Don’t @ me.
The Wife Between Us doesn’t fully realize it’s potential as a domestic thriller in a way that was satisfying to me. While the quite and calculating approach the authors seem to prefer worked really well in Hendrick’s and Pekkanen’s other novel An Anonymous Girl, here it made the narrative less thrilling and more soap opera-ish than I would have wanted.
Where The Last Mrs. Parrish tried to convince the reader that domestic abuse is okay as long as the “replacement wife” fucking sucks enough to “deserve” it, this book pumped the breaks before completely going in that direction. Instead, there is a moment of, “Oopsie! I guess it wasn’t very nice of me to make that woman take my place in my abusive relationship.”
The first part of the novel is told from two parts. One: Nellie, a young newly engaged preschool teacher who is head over heels in love with, Richard, her perfect and perfectly rich fiancé. The other: Vanessa, Richard’s ex-wife, who is spiralling out of control since their divorce and is seemingly obsessed with Richard’s new fiancée.
In a nutshell, the rest of the novel is basically the ex-wife trying to stop the wedding to the new wife because she knows she’s set up this young girl to be abused. Which is admirable, but fuck if I wouldn’t have loved this 100x better if she’d thought of a clever way to kill the asshole instead of setting up another woman to take her place and then realizing later that was a shitty call.
There is a fun twist that leads the reader into Part Two of the book, but when it came right down to the bulk of the novel, that was the biggest twist to happen, so it kind of blew it’s load early if you know what I mean. I found the rest of the plot to be more of a stress-fuelled drama than thriller, and the revelations to be interesting and clever, but not necessarily mind-blowing or shocking.
It’s still a pretty decent read and I never got bored with it, but it’s just not what I thought it was going to be considering the hype-train that rode through Book Station.
I know the lower rated reviews that I have read through say a lot of things about how over-the-top, or impossible, it seemed that Vanessa would have fallen for someone so clearly “off,” when there were so many untrustworthy signs with Richard, but I’ve been in a relationship like this before. I’m a strong, opinionated, independent kind of person and even I was duped when I was a young twenty-something without much experience. It took me four years to escape.
I think it clearly helps the story for the dude to be a gorgeous, rich Prince Charming, because it’s all the more reason to look past any flaws or oddities in the story of his life or behaviour. But it’s also the part of the story that I found to be a bit much. Like, no one is that outwardly perfect and covering up serious issues so well.
Though I was manipulated into a shit relationship, even if he had been rich and gorgeous I don’t know that I would have ever so willingly given up my job, my friends and my hobbies just to sit at home and do nothing more than to pick out fabrics and tiles, and try to get pregnant. And keep pushing away all my natural instincts telling me this wasn’t the life I wanted. So I’m not really sure what the fuck Vanessa was thinking in that regard, but I understand part of why she ended up with this dick hole.
The ending took me a little while to digest. Maureen was just fucking weird, but I would have liked her to be weirder throughout the novel so that what kind of affections she had for her brother were a bigger twist at the end instead of being confusing and vague. But to explain away all his intricately abusive and manipulative behaviour with “he hit his head as a kid” nearly sprained an optic muscle when I rolled my eyes all the way back into my fucking skull.
Sorry you hit your head, but you’re still an abusive fucktard. No excuses work when it comes to this.
And also WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO DUKE?!
It’s the like only part of the novel I was totally, heart-wrenchingly invested in because animals > humans.
I really wanted that hanging thread tied and for some kind of doggy reunion to take place. Vanessa got her human best friend, Sam, back blah blah blah. WHAT ABOUT THE GOODEST BOY TO EVER DOG?
That’s what I really need to know!
That epilogue earned back half a star, though.
Still, it’s just the most okay-est.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
Read between the lies.
book source: the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review.