***** - Mrs March
MRS MARCH VIRGINIA FEITO *****
George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.
A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book – a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.
One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.
A razor-sharp exploration of the fragility of identity and the smothering weight of expectations, Mrs. March heralds the arrival of a wicked and wonderful new voice.
I always struggle to write 5-star reviews for books I loved. When a book has things that annoy me -if it’s predictable, badly paced or too long, for example, I’m able to find pages and pages of things to say. I get the notes app out on my phone and write comments as I go along, often rolling my eyes as I do so. When I love a book however, I just want to yell ‘read this book’ and leave it at that. When I fully enjoy a book I don’t take notes as I read - I’m just fully invested and happy to have read it and it makes writing the reviews for them very hard!
Mrs March is one such book that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. It’s a slow-burn character study in a woman getting more unhinged as it goes along. At the beginning it seems like Mrs March (she is referred to with this moniker only – as her entire identity revolves around her husband) has the perfect life – a loving and successful husband, a beautiful house and lots of money. However, a few words from strangers about her husband’s new book is enough to start her slip into mental health issues. The book is set in an era where a woman was expected to be quiet and well-groomed, tending to their husband’s every whim and being a key support figure for their success. This stifling societal expectation adds onto the pressure that Mrs March feels throughout and how she is expected to look and act in public.
The book is really nicely paced, with enough happening to keep your interest but a definite build in events. Mrs March is also a very unreliable narrator, and you have to keep reminding yourself of this when an external character says or does something that seems to come out of nowhere.
The writing style is beautiful and its amazing to think that this is a debut book. I’ll certainly be looking out for more books written by Virginia Feito in future. I can see from the blurb that Elizabeth Moss is looking to make a screen adaptation of it – I’m not sure how well it was translate across as so much is in the character’s head and part of its pleasure is from the choice of words and flow of the prose.
Overall, Mrs March is my final KINDIG GEM of 2021, a gripping and disturbing read that kept me hooked from the first page. Thank you to NetGalley, 4th Estate & William Collins for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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