LISTENING TO: 'The Younger Wife' by Sally Hepworth
When Rachel and Tully's father, esteemed heart surgeon Stephen Aston announces that he's getting remarried, it should be a happy occasion, but it's a little more complicated than that. For one thing, Stephen isn't quite divorced from Rachel and Tully's mother, Pamela. And for another, Stephen's fiancée, the beautiful and poised Heather at 34, is younger than both of Stephen's daughters. The only reason Stephen is able to pull this off is that Pamela, his wife, is in a fairly advanced stage of dementia and his care of her has been well above reproach. Who could blame him, if he's found love again? Doesn't he deserve it? Especially when everyone knows Pamela will never recover?
At least that's what Rachel and Tully tell themselves, even while they struggle in their own ways to come to terms with their father's decision. And also ... Heather, who common wisdom would dictate is more than likely a gold-digger, appears surprisingly ... normal, and even sweet. But there is undoubtedly something awry with the Alston family, and Stephen's unconventional engagement is only the least of it.
Sally Hepworth really hit this one out of the park. It's the best kind of domestic and psychological suspense---entirely believable situations and struggles and a twist that isn't so farfetched that it leaves you rolling your eyes. Even though I had the e-book galley, I listened all the way through because once I started I couldn't stop. The voice actors were pitch-perfect, conveying the quirks and personalities of all the characters so that from their tone, it wasn't difficult to understand what you were supposed to think of them. From voice alone, we realize that Rachel is steady yet tortured; and Tully somewhat of a frenetic mess. And Heather, the fiancée ... well, I can't say anything about her because that would give too much away.
I will say this: if you're not Australian, and have trouble with accents, you may struggle a little with this listening experience. The Aussie inflections are pretty strong. But if, like me, you enjoy the reminder that this is happening in a place unlike those you may be familiar with, the accents heighten that effect. Recommended.
Take a listen yourself. Buy the audiobook here.