TITLE: The Wives
AUTHOR: Tarryn Fisher
AGE RANGE: Adult
Imagine that your husband has two other wives. You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.
But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.
You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.
Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?
And who is his mysterious third wife?
Yikes. Yikes. I had such high hopes that I would enjoy this more than, um, almost everyone I know who has reviewed this, but sadly, those hopes were unfounded.
I won’t name any characters, but I am going to talk about the plot a bit here, so if you do not want to risk feeling spoiled in any way at all, let me just say one quick non-spoiler-y thing: the plot arc of this book did not know what it wanted to do with itself and the writing struggled. And now, you should probably stop reading if you really don’t want to risk any vague spoilers.
The book started strong and was fairly captivating for the first half, but around the midway point, everything hit the fan — and by “everything”, I mainly just mean some of the worst mental illness rep I’ve ever seen in my life. I know mental illness is a common enough theme in thrillers and it’s not like that’s a surprising fact or a rarity by any means, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this uncomfortable with the way it’s written!
Not only did it make me cringe a lot, but the representation is also incredibly self-contradicting. The character in question constantly alternates between having hallucinations and delusions, to recognizing the truth of what actually happened after only a literal moment’s thought. Even if I weren’t looking at this from my viewpoint (which is that of someone who has watched multiple loved ones experience delusions and hallucinations for years on end), even from a writing standpoint, it makes no sense. Every time a plot point is built up in this story, it’s immediately torn back down.
Finally, I understand that many reviewers probably didn’t feel comfortable mentioning this because I could see some readers seeing this as a spoiler, but as someone who genuinely wishes I had known beforehand, I’m saying it anyways: this book focuses very heavily on miscarriages and infertility as both plot points and singular defining traits of characters. There are characters in this book who I felt like I hardly even knew outside of their infertility, and some of the commentary and the ways in which the entire discussion was handled felt so callous and uncaring to me. As someone who has lived through a lot of heartache RE: miscarriages and infertility, maybe I’m just exceptionally picky about the way I see it discussed in stories, but this was not it.
On top of everything else… I hated this main character. She is horribly cruel to every single other woman in this book (except one, I guess, who she’s nice to outwardly but thinking horrible things about constantly). She has no personality whatsoever outside of wanting to be her husband’s favorite sex partner. She spends unnecessary amounts of time bragging about how she wants to sexually please her husband better than anyone else because she doesn’t necessarily mind him loving other women, as long as he only thinks of her when he’s having sex with them. The entire experience of being inside her brain was disgusting and wholly un-enjoyable.
I intended to write a one- or two-paragraph mini review discussing the major issues I saw in this story and instead it’s turned into a full page of ranting, and I haven’t even touched on all of the problems (like the way mental health hospitals and doctors are depicted — don’t get me started, but my friend and buddy read partner Malliumpkin wrote an INCREDIBLE review here that you should check out). And finally — I swear I’ll shut up after this — there are HUGE plot points that get brought up and NEVER explained or tidied up. We’re left with such a massive amount of loose ends at the end of the book, and it’s all just swept under the all-encompassing rug of “but, mental illness!”
In case you couldn’t tell, I hated this book. I actually started this review at 2 stars and the more I think on it, it feels generous to even give it 1. I regret spending my time on this, and despite having loved the first book of Tarryn’s I read, I loathed so much about this story that I’m hesitant to ever pick up another of her works at all.
miscarriages (described in graphic detail and discussed many times), domestic violence, ableism, slut-shaming, internalized misogyny, mental health hospitalization, alcoholism, mentions of child abuse, mentions of murder/suicide, infidelity
Absolutely fucking awful, a complete disgrace, with no redeeming qualities.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? No, no, and hell no.
— destiny ♥
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