The Younger Wife
- Author: Sally Hepworth
- Genre: Mystery/Thriller
- Publication Date: April 5, 2022
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: blood, domestic violence, sexual assault, alcoholism, anxiety, murder
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.
THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.
THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?
This book had me reading as fast as I could and making a bunch of guesses to figure out what was actually going on! It was a quick read, and thank goodness for that or I would have exploded from anticipation and curiosity. After reading The Good Sister, I was excited to start this one, and it certainly didn’t let me down.
This family is so messed up, it made me glad that my family is just weird and not like this. Kind of like when I watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Stephen is still married to Pam, his wife of 38 years, but she’s got dementia, and he’s fallen in love with a woman who is half his age … and younger than both of his adult daughters.
We get chapters in the POV of several of the women involved, jumping seamlessly back and forth between Tully, Rachel, Heather, and a woman who isn’t named until closer to the end of the story. It starts with a shocking event at the wedding, then jumps back to the past, so we can get a better perspective of what led up to it from the three main women in the story. I found myself hooked from the very start, waiting as patiently as I could to find out what actually happened at the wedding and why.
Hepworth has mastered the difficult task of taking four separate voices and making them all sound different enough that I never questioned who was narrating. Each of the narrators was exceptionally compelling, even if they weren’t all necessarily likable. In fact, I really struggled with Tully’s chapters at first — she struggles with anxiety, and is repeatedly described using terms that aren’t sensitive, both by herself and the people around her. But as the story went on, I found myself warming to her. Rachel struggles with her own issues, primarily burying a trauma that occurred long ago, principally by binge eating. Heather is a whole other can of worms, and naturally, I was suspicious of her character, even though it was hard to maintain that suspicion the longer I read.
It felt like there were frequently mentions of Rachel’s weight, although each time it was also offset with how pretty she was. I think the mental health rep was a little better, and discussed an issue that I haven’t seen in any books before, and I liked how treatment was addressed throughout the story. Hepworth also talks about the emotional toll that having a loved one with dementia can take on people — where both Rachel and Tully weren’t able to connect with their mother the way that they used to, and how upsetting it was to visit someone who might remember you one day but not the next, as well as the personality changes that came along with dementia.
But more importantly, at the heart of the story was a mystery, full of narrators that weren’t necessarily reliable. It forced me to question everyone involved, and although I spent a lot of time wondering what had actually happened in the beginning, I also found myself very intrigued by the characters and the personal growth they showed throughout the story — because let me tell you, these women all go through massive growth.
Overall, this was a great book that I carried around with me all day long — I couldn’t stop reading it. And it was full of plot twists! While I accurately predicted a couple of them, there were way more that caught me by surprise. I never got bored, and the pacing was on point. Definitely an enjoyable and surprising read, and I highly recommend it.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 9
Categories: Book Review