All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

on January 31, 2018

The Wife Between Us 
Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Pan Macmillan AUS
2018, 343p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher}:

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 woman 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. 

Wow this book is going to be hard to review.

It’s one of those books where you don’t want to give too much away because to even talk about seemingly innocuous things can be to spoil elements of the plot that are best left for readers to discover. On one hand, it seems relatively straightforward: a bitter, cast aside ex-wife is devastated to hear the news her former husband will marry again. Richard was a dream – wealthy, considerate, generous. But almost a decade later and Vanessa wakes up alone now, in the guest room of her aunt’s house. She struggles through a personal shopper job at Saks and every night she fights the urge to drink. Sometimes she wins, sometimes she fails. With the news Richard is marrying again, her life begins to spiral out of control. She has to stop the wedding.

Movie rights to this book have already been sold – to the same people that turned The Girl On The Train into a movie and after having read it, it’s not hard to see that the people who saw the potential in that book would see the same potential in this one. There are a few basic similarities, particularly revolving around an unreliable narrator with a fondness for drink.

Now I have to admit, I’m generally pretty clueless with thrillers with crazy twists and turns so although I knew there was going to be a twist, I was focusing in a different direction and so the first big reveal was still quite a surprise for me, which gave it a significant ‘wow’ factor. However, I am sure there will be people out there that will pick the big twist before the reveal, because the blurb sets them up to know that their first assumptions are wrong and to look for the big twist, to ponder it, to try and guess it before it happens. I always feel books set themselves up to fail when the blurb states so clearly hey, there are big twists here, nothing is as it seems, try and figure it out! Instead it should just unfold naturally, so that everyone gets that omg, I did not see that coming kind of feeling, which heightens the impact.

I did really enjoy the way a lot of this unfolded – it is a bit of a bait and switch and once the penny drops it changes gear a bit as Vanessa attempts to stop Richard marrying again. She comes off as a bit unhinged – and it’s slowly revealed why she is the way she is. However the book does have a few tangents that I’m not sure do it any favours. The story from the college days seems to take up a bit too much time in the narrative and sets a heavy handed mood only to fizzle out around the end in a disappointing fashion. The last twist I wasn’t particularly surprised about as that character struck me as having ulterior motives of their own and because of that it lacked impact and was done so quickly at the end that it sort of didn’t really matter. The stuff with Richard’s sister was alluded to but not really explored in any meaningful way. That last one I think should’ve been developed a bit more.

A few quibbles but this was a pretty intense and fun read and I can see how it’s going to be a movie. The authors themselves even admitted that a lot of the chapters are framed as ‘scenes’ and I think it’ll be an interesting adaptation. I’ve read Sarah Pekkanen before and this is a good first collaboration. I’d be keen to read any of their future releases.


Book 18 of 2018


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