The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks

“Gaze detection, its called – our ability to sense when someone is observing us”

The review said anything i predict about this book while reading will be wrong and it was. Its not about a jealous ex-wife or an obsessed spurned lover either, but there is a high degree of “psychotic” in this book. There is no way to explain or review this book without giving away the plot – so please consider this a warning.

The book begins with a chase of an ex-wife shadowing every move of her husband and his new lover, or so it seems to the reader. Vanessa is finding it hard to move on and Nellie is just at the cusp of a new beginning, looking at the world with rose coloured spectacles. The central figure, though is the husband Richard, pivotal to the entire plot.

Initially Vanessa, now living with her old aunt, will seem like a pathetic figure, with random mysterious comments thrown in to link everything back to what is actually happening. She seems unable to eat or sleep and neither is she able to focus on her job as the memories from her marriage keep assailing her. Nellie on the other hand is ignoring all the signals that her fiancee, Richard is beginning to control her life and her behaviour. She is unable to see her friends distancing themselves, or pay heed to warnings coming from her mother. She is the cinderella in the moment and is unaware that clock is about to strike midnight.

While the reader is busy figuring out what is so unpredictable about this scenario, the author throws in a complex twist of Vanessa and Nellie being the same person. Vanessa to the world and nervous Nellie to her husband. This is the turning point and the protagonist becomes the antagonist. Vanessa, a young and vibrant girl, getting swept off her feet by the charming but much older Richard, embarks on a new life only to discover that things are not what they seem. Her controlling, jealous and psychotic husband manages to alienate her from everything familiar and turn her into a nervous wreck.

“In my marriage, there were three truths, three alternate and sometimes competing realities. There was Richard’s truth. There was my truth. And there was the actual truth, which is always the most elusive to recognize. This could be the case in every relationship, that we think we’ve entered into a union with another person when, in fact, we’ve formed a triangle with one point anchored by a silent but all-seeing judge, the arbiter of reality.”

Richard’s violent anger and constant tracking of movements, leaves no choice for Vanessa but to plot “the demise of her marriage”. She hones in on the newly hired secretary of Richard and passively encourages them to spend time together. It leads into Richard having an affair and thus, leaving Vanessa for Emma. Post separation, though going through the stages of letting go, Vanessa feels extremely guilty, since she never thought that the new innocent girl would get entangled into the web and head for a disaster – a marriage with Richard.

Vanessa is on a quest to save Emma. She provides proofs and ultimately puts herself in the harms way to demonstrate Richard’s penchant for extreme violence. Towards the end, the reader finds the husband in a mental facility being treated for his behaviour, the sister who played an inactive part in the book so far, taking charge of her brother. But what complicates the whole plot is that Emma, who was the innocent was not so simple after all.

Its a great airplane read – as it will keep you hooked and wondering, until everything will start coming together in the end. Just a word of caution, don’t spend too many emotions empathising with the wife or sympathising with the husband.

“You need to remember that even when i’m not there, i’m always with you” – these words may never sound romantic to you again!

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