The Wife: Misdirection at its finest

The Wife book review

What is this about?: Angela’s life comes crashing down when her husband Jason is accused of sexual harassment and then rape. And then murder.

What else is this about?: Angela is deathly afraid that her secret — her past — will come out when the media starts to investigate him.

Blurb

‘A subtly sneaky, emotionally complex, and utterly addictive novel of psychological suspense.’ – Lisa Scottoline

The stunning new domestic thriller from the New York Times-bestsellingEdgar-nominated author of The Ex

When Angela met Jason Powell, while catering a function in the Hamptons, she assumed their romance would be a fling. But, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. The marriage meant a fresh start, a chance for Angela and her young son to move to Manhattan where no one knew of her tragic past.

Six years later, her husband has become a successful and celebrated liberal figurehead, but when a college intern and then another woman come forward with allegations against him, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, but Angela is forced to ask how well she ever really knew her husband, and if she can afford to stand by him and risk her own past being revealed.

Stars: 4/5

Whew.

Angela is happily married to Jason, who loves her son Spencer as if he is Jason’s own. They’ve been happily married, and now Jason’s star is on the rise, and Angela is half proud and anxious that her past will come to light as interest in Jason grows, and the media starts to notice him.

I think this is the best point to say that if this review begins to sound strange after this, its because I don’t want to give spoilers away.

Jason is first accused of sexual harassment, before another woman comes forward and claims he raped her. A harassment case is far easier to make disappear (read: pay off) than a rape case, or for that matter, a murder case — which is what Jason is arrested for. It’s also easier to keep Angela’s secret kept safe if the case doesn’t grow more public.

Jason knows her secret, which makes his betrayal of their marriage — an affair with the alleged rape victim — worse.

Angela begins the book as a victim, I think, would be the best way to describe it. She is afraid for herself and Spencer, should the media come looking into her past, and soon enough, those secrets are revealed in the book, so readers understand where she is coming from.

Under the veneer of a respectability that Jason worked so hard to build is someone who would do anything to survive — including revealing things about Angela, he’d promised never to. He wants to cast himself as a victim of her hang-ups, so naturally he’d have an affair to get the sex he’s been lacking at home — it’s crass, but we all know the stories that cast men as the good guys doing bad things because of their wives — our newspapers give that to us often enough with their reports. 

As her life begins to unravel, readers begin to understand Jason’s life as well, and the case that grows ever more complicated when readers understand just what is at stake for him.

And then, Burke makes you understand what The Wife is really about.

What it means to have to — to want to — do anything to survive.

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