She made her bed. You’ll lie in it.Rebecca only wanted to help out – to be kind. Richard seemed so alone after his wife, Nicole, died, and Rebecca wanted to make sure he knew he had someone to rely on.But now she’s in Nicole’s immaculate house. Drinking from her favourite crystal wine glass. Keeping shoes in her orderly closet. Comforting her sweet and grieving step-daughter. It feels like Rebecca is living another woman’s life.And as she gets to know the neighbours, Rebecca hears stories that make her wonder: was free-spirited Nicole happy in this perfect life, or did she feel trapped? Did she feel, as Rebecca is beginning to, that something wasn’t quite right?
I’d never imagined myself succumbing to a state of emotional abandonment where I lost all rational thought, my sense of identity. Lost sight of me. It happens gradually, subtly and insidiously, until you really do believe the madness is ‘all in your mind’.
Thus begins The Second Wife. And right there and then I knew it would be a good one. Yes, I do know better than to judge a book by its prologue, but sometimes you just know, you know? This is Sheryl Browne’s third novel and in my humble and honest opinion, it’s her best one yet. I loved her first novel, The Babysitter, if you haven’t read that one, do check it out! I also liked Sheryl’s second novel, The Affair. It was well-written and well-plotted, but I found myself frustrated by the main characters. At times I had to refrain myself from shouting at them to stop arguing and start talking to each other, they were supposed to love each other, how could they not communicate more?! Regardless, I was still a fan, so when I saw The Second Wife on NetGalley I requested it immediately and I was thrilled when I was approved.
The Second Wife‘s narrative is split between past events (Nicole) and present-day events (Rebecca after Nicole’s death). Both are equally suspenseful, and I was racing through the story from the get-go until the very last page.Now, first of all, I feel like I should give you a bit of a warning about the story: it deals with some delicate issues, but, again in my humble opinion, in a very appropriate, sensitive way. Take Nicole. It’s so interesting to see how she feels after getting out of an abusive relationship, how she tentatively lets another man in. She’s a victim, but she escaped, she tries to pick up the pieces, she has ups and downs but she keeps trying nevertheless, she’s strong and brave and although dealing with the aftermath of a nasty relationship, the abuse is never used as an excuse for any present-day behaviour of hers. Nicole’s best friend, Rebecca, is another strong female character, and with some hidden depths I had not foreseen.
In terms of the plot, I had this hunch, right from the start, a gut feeling. Now, my gut has been known to betray me before, so I don’t trust it all that much. But this time! This time I was RIGHT! How glorious that was! You know how sometimes a story is so predictable that it gets boring? Not this one! It wasn’t predictable at all, I have no idea how my hunch came into being but how lovely it did. I kept reading and reading to find out whether my hunch was correct and when it turned out it was, I was just so happy! (Take that, Miss Marple!)The psychological angle of this thriller was very well though out and highly intriguing. What psychological mind games can be played on a person before they go mad? And how long before the trickster is so caught up in their mind games that they go mad themselves?
Many thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review!