Monday, 19 February 2018

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 2018 - by St. Martin's Press  
Pages: 346.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Themes of abuse and mental illness 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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. Assume nothing.


This is a thriller that I was absolutely dying to read. I love relationship conflict and dynamics, and I adore this premise. I expected to love this book.
Just a warning: The last paragraph of this review, following on from the quote in the middle, is spoilery. I just couldn't write a decent review without talking about that spoiler, so I'm afraid I had to include it. If you don't want to be spoiled, please skip everything after that quote. 


The story is unique. The authors take well-known conflicts, but look at them from different angles, which I think is great. The book feels fresh.
The writing is.....good. It's quite similar to Mary Higgens Clark's style, and the whole tone of the book feels like something from her books. It doesn't feel like a modern, 2018 kinda story, it feels like something from the early 2000s and rather dated in terms of language and fashion, etc. It does work, it's just a change from what I typically expect from thrillers these days.

I love the language the authors use. It's very specific, and makes for some wonderfully vivid scenes. Every scene is well-fleshed out in all aspects.
The characters aren't incredible. They're okay, but they aren't very three-dimensional or vivid. They're stereotypes, and yet they aren't terribly written. They're just.....there, on the page. And they aren't exciting.
However, I do love how well drawn everyone's motivations are. The authors really flesh out the characters' pasts and give them solid motivations which explain their present day actions. Unfortunately it doesn't quite make them vivid, but it does prop them up a bit.


“I was happy, I think, but I wonder now if my memory is playing tricks on me. If it is giving me the gift of an illusion. We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


I don't think this book works well as a thriller. I guessed the big twists way before they were revealed, and until about page 200 or so I was extremely bored. It's just not gripping - and the topics the authors delve into (like abuse and mental health issues) could've been more powerful if the authors had stopped trying to make the book into a thriller and instead just sat down with the characters and those tough subjects and paid them more attention, instead of trying to make secrets out of everything (which I personally think fails, because the "big twists" were very obvious to me).
But the theme of abuse is handled very well. The authors show the horror of an abusive relationship with a lot of raw emotion and subtle, psychological build-up. They address head-on the ignorant, cruel question we so often hear "why doesn't she just leave?" and make it clear that it is NEVER A MATTER OF "JUST LEAVING". I love how they handle that.
But when they're handling a topic like that, I wish they'd just forget about trying to make the book into a thriller. It think Vanessa's story would've been so much more satisfying and powerful if they'd tossed aside all these so-called secrets and mysteries and just narrowed it down to the abusive relationship and how the characters deal with that.




The Wife Between Us could've been an incredible book if the authors hadn't tried to draw out so-called mysteries and instead just focused on the characters dealing with the abusive relationship they're tied up in.  

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