wife-between-us

When a blurb promises a huge twist, I’m wary.

If I’m on the lookout for a twist, I might be disappointed when I find it. I might guess it before it arrives. I might not trust anything I read because, well, why should I? I’ve been told my assumptions will be wrong.

But. When there is a big twist and it works. Oh my. For me, this one worked. I couldn’t see how the setup could be other than what I was reading (though in hindsight I do wonder whether I ought to have worked it out a lot sooner!), so I thoroughly enjoyed the first shock.

What’s it about?

The blurb drew me in:

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

It’s about a jealous wife, obsessed with her replacement.

It’s about a younger woman set to marry the man she loves.

The first wife seems like a disaster; her replacement is the perfect woman.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

You will be wrong.

Intrigued? The prologue gives a view of two women: one watched, one watching. From there, the chill escalates…

What’s it like?

A little bit like a rollercoaster, with a definite dip after the first big twist. Initially, chapters alternate between the point of view of two women: Nellie and Vanessa. As we learn more about Nellie’s relationship with Richard, the angsty pre-school teacher’s vulnerability garners our sympathy, while Vanessa is perhaps a little too like Rachel from ‘The Girl on the Train‘ to garner much empathy: she drinks, struggles to maintain a job and has no friends.

Later on, Vanessa grated on me even more: she seemed ungrateful and it appeared obvious why she was divorced. But. Just when I was getting thoroughly irritated by her, and wondering where further mystery could possibly lie, Hendricks and Pekkanen start turning the kaleidoscope…

What I particularly enjoyed was the layering approach the authors adopted to certain incidents. When the curtain is peeled back a little more on particular events, we find they are not quite what they first appeared to be. (This approach has also been used to particularly good effect by Ali Land in her wonderful debut novel ‘Good Me, Bad Me‘.)

Final thoughts

Whilst some readers have considered the final twist a turn too far, and I can understand why, I really enjoyed the way the whole story gradually came into focus, though it certainly does reinforce the central premise of domestic noir: trust no-one, especially those closest to you!

Definitely worth a read for fans of domestic noir and psychological thrillers.

‘The Wife Between Us’,
Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen,
2018, Macmillan, paperback