The Second Wife by Sheryl Browne

This was a really gripping story, with a clever switch between two timelines. Both the main female characters were fascinating, with Rebecca’s decisions hard to fathom until nearly halfway through the novel.

As the letters that Nicole wrote to Rebecca in the past are gradually revealed, the weird atmosphere around Richard and his daughter Olivia is slowly exposed for what it is, with an unexpected twist that left me truly shocked.

I loved the switch between timelines. It meant that the same revelation happened at parallel moments in the novel for Rebecca and Nicole. The build up to the major events of the novel was doubly intense because of this, and I loved their different perspectives and seeing the different decisions they chose to make.

I also found Richard one of the most interesting and multi-layered characters in a suspense novel like this that I’ve read in a while. His aloofness and seemingly perfect nature at the beginning slowly unravels as we learn more and more, and I loved this gradual wearing down of his persona.

Olivia was also a fascinating character, and definitely not what she seemed at first. I loved the development of her personality and her chilling thoughts about the women her father dated.

This whole novel has a great story, with a really intense build up and a shocking twist. All four main characters are fascinating, and the relationships between them are layered and complicated. Rebecca in particular, is one of the best and strongest characters I’ve read in a while.

Credits:
The Second Wife
Sheryl Browne
Bookouture, 29 Jan 2019

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Although this got really intense in the second half of the book, I found this quite slow and tough to get through at first.

The main character in this I just found extremely irritating to begin with. I think this would be great for fans of The Girl on the Train, but for me I just got frustrated by the lack of sense the main character made. Anna Fox never leaves her house, instead observing her neighbours through her windows – she drinks, she plays online chess, and has an interesting relationship with her husband and daughter. She’s a child psychologist, so I did enjoy seeing her relationship with her own mental health change and evolve. For me however, I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book as much, as it was too repetitive and too reliant on the shadowy events that were unfolding and the unreliability of the narrator. Her observations and discussions with people she interacts with make no sense due to her drinking and mixing prescription drugs, but for me this just went on too long and it became frustrating. Some readers will definitely like this though, and will enjoy the sense of the true unknown that this provides.

Towards the second half of the novel, however, things really picked up. As Anna became more proactive, the descriptions and language became really visual and it’s easy at times to feel like you are actually feeling and experiencing Anna’s agoraphobia. It was a very absorbing second half, and A. J. Finn writes Anna’s mental health struggles very well. It was also increasingly difficult watching her struggle to believe her own memory, as it made the mystery of what was happening in the house across the road take a backseat for a while.

This then meant that once the reader got back into the mysterious events unfolding in the house, there was absolutely no way to know who did what. The ending is rather sudden, although genuinely quite surprising, and I did enjoyed the level of closure Finn allowed the reader – not so much a ‘happy ever after’ but a definite sense of satisfaction.

Anna’s relationship with herself also becomes much more interesting towards the end of the novel – without giving away spoilers, her relationship with her family was definitely not what I was expecting, and sudden extra twists like this I thought really gave this novel it’s edge.

Overall, this is a great quick read, but for me it just takes too long to build. Once within the mystery though, it’s a really gripping tale and I did enjoy it.

Credits:
The Woman in the Window
A. J. Finn
HarperCollins, 2018