Thursday, August 13, 2015

Staff Pick - You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living a carefully constructed life in upscale New York that is quickly to descend into chaos in Jean Hanff Korelitz's You Should Have Known. Grace, a therapist, has written a soon to be published self-help book by the same title which advises women of the warning signs to which they should heed before they choose a mate.

And then Karma steps in.

Grace is smug and she wears her perceived superiority like a cloak. She, her husband Jonathan and son Henry live in the same apartment she grew up in. Without this gift from her father they would not have been able to afford this prime New York address and certainly couldn't have managed the tuition for Henry's exclusive private school and his violin lessons. At this private school, Grace is in the company of the super rich whose lifestyles far exceed Grace's in terms of second mansions, servants and Birkin bags of all varieties (Grace, with her limited means, can only afford one). Grace is also very proud of her husband who is a pediatric oncologist, whose work is so important and so awe-inspiring that he can never be bothered with petty details and never, never questioned. This proves to be her downfall.

The reader is ahead of Grace and can see what is happening or what is likely to happen before she is willing to acknowledge it. Grace reminds me of Jodi Brett in The Silent Wife who never articulates the horrible things she knows to be true about her husband. The novel's pace is slow and introspective at time and then rapidly twists and new information is revealed - information that surely Grace would have known if she had picked up a newspaper, watched television or asked a few questions. A quick read with enjoyable plot twists and an ending devoid of loose threads.

Although more on the gritty side, fans of domestic thrillers might also enjoy The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford.

"Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor Celia is brutally murdered. To Dana's horror, she was the last person to see Celia alive. Suffering from mania, the result of her bipolar disorder, she has troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia's death. Her husband's odd behavior and the probing of Detective Jack Moss create further complications as she searches for answers. The closer she comes to piecing together the shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her... or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?" publisher.

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