Vanessa, Richard’s first wife, is determined that if she cannot have Richard, no-one else will. She will do whatever it takes to stop this wedding. Anything at all.
As the blurb on this book foretells, you will make many assumptions as you read this story. It’s about a jealous wife, obsessed with hatred for her replacement. This first wife is a disaster; her replacement seems perfect. So the first wife is stalking the second bride-to-be, full of a vengeful desire to stop the next wedding.
But all those assumptions are wrong. As Judy writes, this is an extraordinarily ingenious plot; its many twists and turns so skilfully hidden and then presented that you’ll feel dizzy. Nothing is quite what it seems.
Vanessa is a woman barely able to function after her divorce from Richard. She lives in an alcoholic haze, floundering to keep her job as a stylist at a top fashion store. She was unable to fall pregnant by Richard and thinks he left her because of her inability to conceive: but she’s also haunted by related events that happened to her when she was at college.
So you, the reader, think this is a story about a jealous first wife determined to prevent a rival marrying her ex-husband. But you would be wrong. Vanessa’s motives are actually far more complex than that.
This is a compelling and twisty psychological thriller. It’s about lies, secrets, manipulation and betrayal. On all sides. The clues are all there, but devilishly concealed. The Wife Between Us is a head-spinning puzzle. Needless to say it’s already been optioned as a movie by the same team at DreamWorks that made the film of Girl on The Train.
It’s that kind of book.
It’s a given that no-one knows what anyone else’s marriage is really like. But this particular relationship is far more fraught and complicated than most. Vanessa and Richard were married for seven years, until he left her for another woman. A much younger and desirable woman, it goes without saying.
Vanessa is devastated and also broke. Penniless, she is forced to live with her aunt, while Richard’s financial success leaves him very well-off, with an upmarket house and an apartment.
Vanessa spends her days obsessing about what went wrong. It’s not as simple as blaming Richard for everything. She knows she wasn’t blameless herself, and she was never the woman Richard thought she was. And then there was Nellie. As this fiendishly-clever novel begins, Nellie is preparing for her own wedding to Richard. She adores him, can’t believe that he loves her so much. To her, Richard seems caring and sincere; he is also extremely attractive and prosperous.
Nellie teaches small children in kintergarten for a living. She loves her job, but it pays badly. She’s forced to supplement her income by working shifts in a restaurant. Once she marries Richard, she need never work again: he offers her the security she has always craved. Nellie is very much in love and hugely excited about the future.
But something’s wrong. She can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her, watching and following her wherever she goes. Nellie is increasingly shaken and spooked.