I was painting the trim in the upstairs bathroom this weekend and used the opportunity to listen to a couple of audiobooks while I worked.
Both psychological “thriller” type novels, they really captured my attention and I ended up just lying in bed part of yesterday and finishing the second one. This may or may not be related to the fact that I, ahem, overindulged a bit on Saturday night.
The first was The Housekeeper by Natalie Barelli.
I mentioned last Friday that I was listening to this, saying how much I loved the narrator, Susie Berneis, who totally made the experience for me. I honestly don’t think I would have read this in regular hard copy format. But Berneis’ wry tone and husky smoker’s voice kept me listening.
The story follows Claire, a young woman on a mission to clear her father’s name and enact justice on the woman, former nanny Hannah Wilson, who Claire believes ruined her family’s lives.
It’s a twisted tale with a somewhat unreliable narrator. Claire is underemployed, lazy, conniving, and really kind of a mean person. She’s out for revenge and you don’t really know why until about a third of the way through the story when it is revealed that as a young woman Hannah worked in Claire’s family’s home as a nanny while Claire was growing up. After a few months, Hannah went home and then accused Claire’s father of molesting her. The wealthy family lost everything during her father’s trial and both Claire’s parents died in dramatic fashion.
Now, Claire is working as a housekeeper under a fake name in Hannah’s home, also caring for Hannah’s baby, Mia. But as she gets more involved in their lives, from reading Hannah’s diary to attempting to lure her husband Harvey into an affair, it turns out Claire is not the only one in the household living a double life.
Dum dum dum…..
This book was just good, juicy, dramatic (and yes, sometimes melodramatic) fun.
I did think the reveal about Hannah’s accusations came a bit too soon. And the drama-filled ending was kind of rushed. Too many reveals all at once. It was kind of cheesy. But I still enjoyed it, the way some people would enjoy a soap opera. It’s generally well-written and the characters are interesting.
Claire reminded me of Marie in Bad Marie or the protagonist in My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Not a great person, but you kind of root for her anyway.
Next, Hoopla, the app I listen on through the library, recommended The Wives by Tarryn Fisher and I cued it up.
It’s read by a talented narrator and actress, Lauren Fortgang. I quite enjoyed her young-sounding but very clear voice.
The narrator of this story, who we know as “Thursday,” begins by telling us about her relationship with her husband Seth.
She is Seth’s second and official wife. But he has two others. This is an arrangement Seth has offered Thursday and she has agreed to live the life of a polygamist, never meeting or talking to Seth’s other wives, attempting to be satisfied with seeing her husband only on Thursdays.
Out of curiosity and rising jealousy, however, Thursday begins to investigate Seth’s other wives. She knows only what he tells her about them, that his first wife, Regina, never wanted children and instead was focused on her career as an attorney. That’s why Seth sought out a relationship with Thursday. He wanted a family and Thursday was in love with him, happy to bear his children. Unfortunately, Thursday became pregnant and her baby died. She then had an emergency hysterectomy. And then Seth added a third wife, Hannah, to the mix. Hannah is currently pregnant with Seth’s child.
This drama is all forced to a head by Thursday’s snooping and what you think you know about each character is called into question at the halfway point. From there, Thursday reveals herself to be unreliable as a narrator, but we only see the story from her perspective.
It’s a fascinating tangled web and there are some very dramatic revelations toward the end. Some tidy, some cheesy, all enjoyable.
I find I get frustrated with unreliable narrators. It’s a trope I tend to avoid. But both of these books were so fun, specifically because you couldn’t trust the protagonist’s points of view.