Saturday, November 30, 2019

The wife by Alafair Burke

On the outside Angela and Jason Powell have the perfect life - he is a professor of economics with a best selling book and his own consulting firm, and she is a stay at home mom.  Jason is not shy about being in the spotlight, he does media appearances and has a successful podcast, and his consultancy firm is doing well enough to have great clients and has attracted some interns too.  Having grown up poor, Angela appreciates the comfort they live in, and mostly stays in the background and out of the spotlight.  Their marriage isn't perfect, but they love each other and their son Spencer.  

That love and faith in her husband is tested when one of the interns from his office comes forward and accuses Jason of inappropriate behaviour.  Suddenly their whole life is under the spotlight - but for all the wrong reasons.  Suddenly every interaction Jason has had with women is up for discussion in the media, and then another woman comes forward with more allegations against Jason.  Trying to protect her family and her marriage, Angela does everything she can to support Jason, even taking advice that seems to be against everything she is trying to do.  It seems that everything is fair game for Jason and his defence team, including Angela's own story which was told to Jason in confidence between man and wife.  As more secrets are revealed, Angela has to wonder how much she really knows about her husband and their own relationship.

The wife is a delightfully convoluted novel that takes you from one point to another through a series of secrets, revelations, conspiracies and other twists and turns.  Angela and Jason start as two ordinary characters, but as each chapter peels back more layers of their story you come to realise that you don't really know that much about them at all, and that they don't know as much about each other as they think.  Angela seems like a typical na├»ve housewife caught out by a husband with a wandering eye, but she has faced and overcome great challenges already just to be alive.  Jason seems like a great husband at first, but it slowly becomes clear that he is quite self centred and focused on himself rather than the family.  Saying anymore will ruin the twists and discoveries that made this such great reading, but if you have read her other works you are going to love The wife.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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