*** - The Husbands
CHANDLER BAKER ***
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE meets THE STEPFORD WIVES in the spectacular new novel from the New York Times bestselling author Chandler Baker.
***SOON TO BE A MAJOR FILM***
Behind every successful woman . . . there's a secret worth KILLING for
'A howl of feminist rage, but one that is pure fun' STYLIST
Recently, Nora has started to feel that 'having it all' comes with a price, one her husband doesn't seem to be paying quite so heavily. She loves Hayden, but why is it that, however hard men work, their wives always seem to work that little bit harder?
When their house-hunting takes them to an affluent suburban neighbourhood, Nora's eyes are opened to a new world. Here, the wives don't make all the sacrifices. Here, the husbands can remember the kids' schedules, and iron and notice when the house needs dusting.
But when she becomes involved in a wrongful death case involving one of the local residents, Nora begins to suspect that there's a dark secret at the heart of this perfect world.
One that some will kill to protect . . .
MY REVIEW ***
I’ve written before about my hatred of taglines when it comes to marketing for books. ‘A twist you WILL NEVER SEE coming’ is a particular bugbear – well now you’ve told me there’s a twist I’m going to be spending my entire read looking for it and scrutinising every character and interaction! Inevitably when this happens I think I’ve got the twist worked out, only to find out the actual ending isn’t as good as the one I’d guessed. ‘A hilarious read’ also annoys me, it heightens my expectations so if I only find myself chuckling half-heartedly I come away disappointed. If I’d known nothing about the book I might have been caught off-guard by the humour and enjoyed it a lot more!
The Husbands falls into this trap in another way with a blurb that boasts from the outset – ‘Little Fires Everywhere meets The Stepford Wives’. Now this may be ok if you have not heard of those two books, but they usually pick titles that are engrained into pop culture and highly popular. I’ll come back to why this is problematic in a moment…
The Husbands follows wife Nora who is a high-powered attorney trying to walk that difficult balance of career and home-life. She feels like her marriage is stagnating as her husband does not help enough around the home. They visit an open house for a neighbourhood where they find the perfect home and would be surrounded by top tier career women all with very home-dedicated husbands who just want to do their best for the women in their lives. The book is a slow build, there’s a lot of hints that things aren’t quite right, a fire to be investigated and some shady red herring characters along the way. It’s only until right at the end that the twist is revealed as to what is really going on. However, the blurb informs us from the outset that this book is like The Stepford Wives and if you’ve read or watched the movie you know exactly what that means! Rather than the intended slow-burn, uneasy read for most of the book, I guessed the twist from a few pages in and the tension build just got a bit boring! If this comparison hadn’t been made I might not have guessed until a lot later in to the book. There is a final twist right at the end which I really enjoyed but I was sad to have the main ending spoiled by the book’s own blurb!
There is another side to all of this in that I really enjoyed The Stepford Wives and so seeing that blurb might have been the reason I requested the book to read. It might also be the reason that it stands out to someone in an over-crowded book store amongst all the other new releases. But is it worth it when its going to spoil the ending for readers that do invest time and money in reading it?
Although the book is a bit predictable it does make some excellent points about the imbalance of domestic roles in modern marriage – particularly with women also trying to have high powered careers. From the authors notes at the end it seems that this comes from personal experience and this really shines through. One phrase has really stuck with me, to paraphrase - ‘how can domestic life truly be split 50/50 when one side has never experience 100%?’ It’s a really interesting question and I can see how frustrating it must be for women, even without having had the experience of motherhood. Although I enjoyed (not sure that’s the right word) these musings, I didn’t think the article and comment style approach that was used for some chapters worked though.
Overall, The Husbands is a well written, engaging read but is sadly spoiled by its own marketing strategy. Thank you to NetGalley & Little Brown Book UK – Sphere, for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
LINKS TO BUY