About two-hundred pages into The Wife Between Us the unreliable narrator notes that there are three sides to a marriage — his side, her side, and the reality of the situation.
This thought occurred to me long before Vanessa pointed it out to her readers. I also found myself wishing that the cover blurb and marketing materials hadn’t teased that there were twists contained within the pages of the story and that we’d question everything being related by the narrator. It would have made the surprises much more unexpected when Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen begin pulling the rug out from under us and playing with our assumptions.
After her husband divorces her, Vanessa is left trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. She is apparently obsessed with the woman who will soon be marrying her husband and will do anything in her power to warn his next wife of the secrets she hid before, during, and after her marriage. Vanessa teases tidbits to come that led to the demise of her relationship as well as the truth of what was really happening in her life and her marriage.
But unlike Gone Girl, which gave us views of the events from both sides of the marriage, The Wife Between Us only gives us Vanessa’s view of things. The authors do toy a bit with time and how certain details are related, leading to one of the bigger (though not unexpected) twists at the end of the first section of the novel. What exactly Vanessa tried and is trying to do is intriguing enough to keep you reading, though the novel suffers from a twist or two too many in the final chapters.
I’ve seen this book heralded as the next big thing along the lines of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. I don’t think this one is quite as clever as either of those thrillers. Or it could be that I’m starting to grow weary of the suspense thriller told to us by an unreliable narrator and promising “shocking twists.” What set Gone Girl apart from the crowd was that it was one of the first novels to pull off the twists and turns. And it feels like a lot of books out there are trying to catch-up or emulate that in order to rocket up the best-seller list instead of heeding the lesson that part of what made it clever was it was the first one to pull the trick. (It’s similar to how in the wake of Twilight you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a paranormal romance on the shelves).
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy The Wife Between Us. It’s a confident, suspenseful novel that has some intriguing surprises along the way. It’s a novel that the less you know going in, the odds are better you’ll enjoy it more. I guess part of my frustration is seeing the raves about the books and left feeling like I missed something.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.