Because so much of the worth of THE WIFE BETWEEN US rests on its twists and turns, I will not be providing any spoilers, which means that means some of the review will seem overly vague. For that I apologize, but most readers (I may be the exception) hate spoilers.
As troublesome as the reliance on plot twists is (they can seem like the very reason for the novel, it’s raison d’etre), those swerves help compensate for the two-dimensional characters, shoring up the novel’s rival females—both stereotypical. First, the older, abandoned wife with an addiction to alcohol and an obsession with the husband she’s lost—check that box. Next, the wife’s younger replacement: gorgeous, naive, and madly in love with her dashing fiancé—check again.
THE WIFE BETWEEN US has other awkward mechanics, starting with its narrative shifts. Chapters alternate between characters—something readers have become fairly familiar (if not always comfortable) with. In this novel the chapters also shift tenses, past to present. The combined shifts—perspective AND tense—feel clunky and amateurish, leading to an all-too-obvious hint that the authors are trying to pull a fast one. (It’s an odd technique, given that one of the authors is an experienced editor and, one thinks, would have known better.)
So now we’re back to those twists and turns. The authors pile them on, one after the other, yet when they come, they too often feel contrived. A good “gotcha,” no matter how riveting, should fit seamlessly into the storyline—hinted at earlier like a bit of slip showing beneath a hem—so that once the reader gets to the reveal, it steals their breath but is also supported by a previous tell. That kind of gotcha would have made The Wife Between Us stand out from the plethora of “woman desperately trying to figure out how to get out of an untenable position” books that are wildly popular right now
But with this novel, the BIG gotcha—the one of many that should stand out—feels like a cheat. And as soon as the reader hits it, it’s pretty clear where the authors got their idea: the exact same one was done in a big name TV hit which garnered a huge following.
On top of the novel’s weak character development, the plotline is nowhere near strong enough to sustain the entire story. I’m not sure this one is worth the time to read. Other domestic thrillers are better.
Cara spent 10 years as a Library Reader’s Advisor in between performing with a belly dance troupe and teaching dance classes. She prefers Swinburne to Shelley, Faulkner to Hemingway, and can be found on most rainy days curled up with a good book and a cup of earl gray, hot.