The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton (Review by Rayissa Palmer)

3 min read

Rating 5/5 Stars

Author Karen Hamilton has written another deliciously twisted novel with The Last Wife. Also author of the dark best selling book, The Perfect Girlfriend, Karen has once again delivered us a book that has the reader wondering, from start to finish, who really did it? In The Last Wife, literally everyone has a secret.

The Last Wife is narrated by Marie, the best friend of Nina, who has just died of a terminal illness, leaving behind her husband Stuart and two little children, Emily and Felix. Marie steps in, to take care of Stuart and the children, because she promised Nina. But as the story unravels, you realize it’s more than just grief that is driving her. She has always wanted Nina’s life. And now here’s her chance.

Karen Hamilton slowly unwinds the story, filling in layers of each of the main characters with each page turn until your head spins, you realize everyone in the story has a dark side, just who’s side is darker? And is Marie the most innocent of all the characters or the most twisted?

Marie and Nina were best friends from little. But you find out that Marie has been doting on and practically smothering Nina with affection. She almost seems like if she could crawl out of her own skin and into Nina’s, she would. She ingratiated herself into Nina’s life, even as Marie’s own parents tell her Nina may not be what she seems. And Nina’s friends warn her of Marie’s almost fanatical doting of her, that it’s unhealthy. And yet the two women’s friendship continues into adulthood until Nina’s death.

The creepiness factor of how Marie slips into Nina’s life gives you shivers. Immediately after Nina’s death, Marie ingratiated herself into the house and moves in to take care of the kids. She even goes so far as to continue to have the book club she and Nina were involved in, keep meeting at Nina’s house. And from the book club is trouble. You meet a second ring of characters who you learn are intertwined with Nina and Marie, beyond the book club. From a shared tragic event in Ibiza to a cover-up that goes decades, The Last Wife keeps you guessing.

The story twists so much as you read it, that at first you think Nina is the normal one with no ulterior motives. Then you go, oh no, wait, it’s Marie that’s the one who’s demented and capable of murder. Then you think, wait, no, it can’t be. And so it goes. Because, oh yes, there is murder in the book, too. An old hidden murder that comes up, a new one to cover up the old one, and characters that align in the end that you never would have imagined doing so in the beginning.

This complicated tale of truth and trust, who really did it, and complex relationships keeps you turning the page from start to finish. And just when you think you can predict the end, another plot twist opens up. The Last Wife is a great escape to dive into and when you are done, you may not look at all of your close friends the same way. A definite thumbs up.

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