Review: The Wife Before Me

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A Grueling Journey Through the Horror of Domestic Abuse to Emerge Victorious
 
Some books, when you finish reading them, leave you with a pleasant sense of satisfaction. It was, you think, a good read. Some other books affect you so powerfully that you want to leap up and run around the house, because this story has touched some deep part of you with a resonating, undeniable truth. THE WIFE BEFORE ME isn’t what I expected. I’d anticipated the usual story of a battered wife who finally achieves escape from her brute of a husband. It is a tale of victory over abuse, but it’s also the story of three incredible women and the power of love. Elena meets Nicholas at her mother’s funeral and is immediately taken with him. He is handsome, charismatic, and seems to offer her a unique empathy. Soon – much too soon, as it turns out – she and Nicholas have set up housekeeping together. In short order Elena produces two children, and all seems to be well. Except it isn’t.

Nicholas keeps a shrine to his missing-and-presumed-dead wife, Amelia, a woman in whose shadow Elena seems destined to live. Nicholas is obsessed with the drowned Amelia (who might, with a tiny stretch of nomenclature, be called Ophelia – see Shakespeare’s Hamlet) who was driven to her death by his narcissistic abuse. Before too long, Elena realizes that Nicholas is a psychopath, a man hellbent on controlling everything and everyone around him.

Without spoiling the plot for those who haven’t read it, suffice to say Elena manages to escape, but at tremendous personal cost. Driven to despair and hanging on to her sanity by her fingernails, she can’t know that the fleeting touches of cold and presentiments of a disembodied presence signify the presence of a most powerful and unlikely guardian angel.

Read this book. Then buy a copy for every woman you love – your mother, your sister, your daughter, your niece, your friend. This is a vivid psychological thriller, but also so much more. It’s evidence of the power of female solidarity. The story told will resonate with you for a long time.