BookBrowse Reviews The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Wife Between Us

by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen X
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2018, 416 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and bestselling author, Sarah Pekkanen. It is a page-turning psychological thriller about the lies we tell one another, including our own selves.

The story is primarily narrated by Vanessa, the former wife of Richard, a wealthy entrepreneur with exacting requirements for all aspects of his life, including his marriage. Vanessa has failed to live up to his expectations and he has moved on. But she is unable to, obsessing about the woman who is soon to become her ex's new spouse. At first Vanessa appears unhinged and delusional, but as the plot unfolds, we begin to suspect all is not as it seems. Alternate chapters, told in third-person so as to distinguish them from Vanessa's narrative, focus on Nellie as she prepares to wed Richard.

There is plenty of suspense as readers try to puzzle out what really took place between Vanessa and Richard and how Nellie fits into this picture. At one point, Vanessa states: "In my marriage, there were three truths, three alternate and sometimes competing realities. There was Richard's truth. There was my truth. And there was the actual truth, which is always the most elusive to recognize." This is without doubt the core of the book—paring back layers of assumptions and appearances until one arrives at the elusive and ineffable reality.

Pekkanen and Hendricks write beautifully and create a marvelous sense of realism. Vanessa in particular is impressively drawn, an unreliable narrator who often understands she's not trustworthy. In one scene for example, she's peeling onions to make supper for her aunt, but the act conjures up a memory:

So there I was, in my exquisite kitchen, stocked with Wusthof knives and Calphalon pots and pans, cooking dinner for the new husband. 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 wipe my eyes and gesture to the cutting board. "Just the onion." I can't tell if [my aunt] believes me.

Fans of Paula Hawkins' The Girl On the Train and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will recognize these authors' devices in The Wife Between Us. Like the former book, this novel is narrated by a woman in crisis who is undeniably an alcoholic, and like the latter, there are unexpected plot twists that change the reader's perception of what's actually going on. I remember getting to the end of Part 1, where the first surprise occurs, and thinking, "Wait… What?" and having to go back to re-read earlier pages. I admire authors who are able to pull something like this off without dropping the slightest clue that things aren't as they appear; Hendricks and Pekkanen succeed brilliantly. However, it felt as if they were overtly copying others' styles and consequently, the plot comes across as somewhat contrived.

That's not to say the book won't be a big hit; The Wife Between Us is entertaining if familiar, and its fast pace makes for a great light read. Its parallels to other successful novels will likely ensure its popularity as well. It's already been optioned for a movie by the same production company that brought The Girl on The Train to film.

Reviewed by Kim Kovacs

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2018, and has been updated for the October 2018 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Yonder
    Yonder
    by Jabari Asim
    The captivating historical novel Yonder turns an intimate lens towards the tragedy and survivorship ...
  • Book Jacket: Churchill's Shadow
    Churchill's Shadow
    by Geoffrey Wheatcroft
    Another book about Winston Churchill? Even with the astronomical number of titles written about the ...
  • Book Jacket: 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows
    1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows
    by Ai Weiwei
    Ai Weiwei is such an influential and innovative artist and activist that a memoir focused purely on ...
  • Book Jacket: Honor
    Honor
    by Thrity Umrigar
    First Impressions readers enjoyed being transported to India via Thrity Umrigar's novel Honor, with ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
My Broken Language
by Quiara Alegría Hudes
A Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright tells her lyrical coming of age story in a sprawling Puerto Rican family.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Free
    by Lea Ypi

    "Nothing short of a masterpiece."
    Publishers Weekly

  • Book Jacket

    The Paris Bookseller
    by Kerri Maher

    How a humble bookseller fought incredible odds to bring one of the 20th century's most important books to the world.

Who Said...

It is a fact of life that any discourse...will always please if it is five minutes shorter than people expect

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A P O B Y Houses

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.