My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“A fool will lose tomorrow reaching back for yesterday.”
— I’ll Never Love This Way Again (1979)
Format: Sound Recording
Vocalist: Dionne Warwick
Credits: Kerr (Richard) and Jennings (Will)
A Popular Misconception.
One might be tempted to assume (and understandably so) that having considerable monetary riches and vast material wealth would account for a life of blissful happiness and serene peace. Because practically every aspect of society conditions us to wholeheartedly believe such an illusion and to settle it in our minds as the gospel truth. But is verifiable happiness genuinely dependent upon how “obese” any given person’s piggy bank is? And does the gift of peace reserve itself exclusively for those whose residential environs, garages, walk-in closets, shoe storage shelves, handbag organizers, and watch cases (or cabinets) contain only the most opulent of man-made fineries?
What constitutes authentic happiness? What would you say constitutes authentic peace? Do vast riches? Does great wealth?
Can anyone—regardless of the monetary or material things that he or she may possess—honestly obtain the dynamic duo of authentic happiness along with authentic peace if they have yet to obtain spiritual edification because they have a common enemy troubling their minds in order to cause confusion?
If one were to ask the manic Vanessa Thompson, star of the immensely complex psychological suspense currently under review, any of those thought-provoking questions, her answer to that someone would undoubtedly be, ‘Absolutely not!’
Imagine, if you will, being courted and swept off the soles of your feet by the Prince Charming of your wildest and most erotic fantasies. He’s tall, athletic, breathtakingly handsome, upstanding, and outrageously rich and wealthy. He also treats you royally, and to you, that is an added plus. Nothing is too good for you (his future princess)—not the five-star dining establishments, or vintage wines imported from the most renowned regions in the world, or the most sought after ready-to-wear from only the top-tiered designers, or the exotic, first-class vacations, or even the top-rated luxury vehicles according to the Kelly Blue Book—as far as Prince Charming is concerned. He has it all. And he spoils you with it all. The crystal glass slipper that he holds fits your foot perfectly. And he has chosen to take you, and only you, to wife. Of course, you’re elated. What woman wouldn’t be? So you gladly—no, frantically—accept Prince Charming’s marriage proposal, internally bidding farewell to all of life’s financial woes and slave freight basket struggles. The two of you are a match made in an Earthly heaven.
Not only do you wear well the crystal glass slipper that he has so delicately slipped onto your foot, but also the huge and exquisite diamond ring (Tiffany and Co., eat your heart out) that he has slipped onto your eagerly awaiting finger. He treats all of your closest friends and family members well, providing for them whatever it is that they may be in need or desire of, including all-expense paid (first-class) trips. Your Prince Charming is the absolutely perfect gentleman . . . until he makes you his own . . . legally . . . bound by the sanctity of marriage . . . and you soon come to realize . . . with the passing of time . . . that you’ve married into a nightmare . . . that you’ve married “Martin Burney.”
In this dispirited Sleeping with the Enemyesque thriller, we will come to meet a woman who was swept clean off the soles of her feet by just that, what such a too-good-to-be-true delusion.
Co-authored by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, The dark, intriguing, quietly chaotic, and inescapable The Wife Between Us acquaints the storyline’s readers with the troubled lives of its leading lady Vanessa Thompson, her husband Richard Thompson, Richard’s sister Maureen Thompson, a woman named Nellie, a woman named Emma, and Vanessa’s only surviving relative, her Aunt Charlotte, as they each intertwine through the gloomy locales of New York City and Florida.
Vanessa Thompson apprises her heavily neurotic witness as a woman who desperately struggles to cling to a destructive past long dissolved into a forgotten eternity. Married for a respectable number of years to a fabulously wealthy New York hedge fund executive named Richard, Vanessa’s hellish account of Richard’s and her so-called happy marriage sheds a harsh light on the façade that it had been, and the constant pain and suffering imposed upon her by the passive/aggressive “Prince Richard” whenever she fell prey to his devious wrath.
Plagued by a mass of bloodthirsty demons vying to obtain complete control over her already tormented mind, the crestfallen Vanessa becomes a hunted and haunted soul: her dreadful past haunts her, her inability to conceive a child haunts her, the memory of her late mother—”demented” as she had been—haunts her, her father’s sudden death haunts her, memories of her ghastly marriage to Richard haunt her. And as her appalling witness continues to unfurl, Vanessa delineates how she had been a woman beaten into submission by the man she thought she loved, and whom she too thought loved her . . . before he discarded her compliant sentiments for the surrendering vulva of her doppelgänger, Nellie.
In the wake of their unsweetened divorce, this narrative’s “Prince Charming,” who is Richard Thompson, has taken his crystal glass slipper to the next village in search of Vanessa’s replacement. And he finds both that woman and her dainty foot in a young, fair-haired, curvy, and vibrant Nellie, a twenty-eight-year-old educator who adoringly refers to her three-year-old students at the Learning Ladder preschool of Manhattan as her “Cubs.” Vanessa’s spitting image, Nellie is wholly enthusiastic about marrying the rich and powerful Richard, and is in the happy process of making her wedding day arrangements when her embittered predecessor intercedes.
Unable to move on after her divorce from Richard, and with so much on the firing line including her job position at the unparalleled Saks, the insomniac who is Vanessa has weakly given in to the demons attacking her worldly mind, even to the extreme of depriving her own being of the proper nourishment and rest that it so eagerly craves. In point of fact, Vanessa is a woman hanging by a string.
The insanity begins to build . . .
She cannot eat. She cannot sleep. And she cannot allow Richard to marry again. She must do away with Nellie. It is imperative. She must see her up close and personal. It is imperative. She must stalk her. It is imperative. She must mimick her. It is imperative. She must stop the “royal wedding” from ever taking place. It is imperative.
While reduced to living with her Aunt Charlotte—a self-employed artist with her own health woes to spare—in a grizzled New York apartment near Eighty-sixth Street and Central Park West, Vanessa sustains to sink deeper into her pitch black well of demonic warfare as her intellect has come under the quotidian assault of depression, self-hatred, self-pity, alcoholism, fear, anxiety, worry, doubt, envy, jealousy, paranoia, denial, and delusional lying—only a small batch of the spiritually demonic thoughts that have waged a vigorous war on their targeted human in a concentrated endeavor to completely destroy her . . . both body and soul.
Yes, the regretful Vanessa is a soul haunted by the madness of her own culpable conscience. And this same culpable conscience despairingly tells her that she cannot allow the beautiful, young, curvy, fair-haired, and devoutly attentive Emma to marry Richard.
She must preoccupy her conflicted mind with enemy-centered thoughts of Emma. It is imperative. Emma must become her new stalkee. It is imperative. She must confront Emma. It is imperative. She must prevent Emma from marrying Richard. It is imperative.
The insanity steadily builds . . .
Is He Prince Charming . . . Or A Toad?
Richard Thompson—who traded in the sagging bustline of his loyal wife in exchange for the youthful, perky bosom of another—may or may not be his own miserable and tumultuous soul. As the rattling skeletal remains of long dead and buried secrets angrily threaten to emerge themselves from the darkened confines of his expensively attired proverbial closet, Richard Thompson is a man who is constantly on edge. He appears stable, yes, but is he really? With his only living relative being an older sister named Maureen—to whom Richard is “peculiarly” close, I might add—Richard Thompson is a problematic individual of an utmost borderline personality.
Having great monetary riches, Richard Thompson can easily fund the two places of dwelling that he so arrogantly holds down: one, a luxurious apartment in Manhattan; the other, a mansion—er, castle—of sorts in Westchester. The cultured one-percenter lives very well and nurtures an insatiable penchant for only the most grandiose afforded to those of his financial hierarchy: leisurely, high-class travels around the world, upper crust cocktail parties flowing with Raveneau and shucked brine oysters on the half shell, Alvin Ailey galas, dates to the Philharmonic, extravagant ballets, sporting events, live shows on Broadway, and countless other sumptious enjoyments of equal ranking.
To his many well-heeled friends and business associates alike, Richard Thompson projects to have it all together on his “caring, attentive, kind, and honorable” physical surface. But that which lies beneath the knightly exterior—lurking in Richard Thompson’s innermost soul—is an eternities-old and rabid spiritual predator, threatening to claw his way out. And he is not an immortal predator that intends to spare his host, or any other equivalent for that matter. His main purpose, for the most part, is to ingest whole his mortal prey. Richard Thompson’s inner predator so critically needs to carnage. It is imperative.
As the insanity intensifies—compliments of Mankind’s one true enemy—plaguing thoughts of Vanessa’s chilling past make time to disturb her defeated mind: Are you crazy? Of course, you are; you got it from your loony mother! Where’s your best friend, Samantha? Hmm? You lost her, didn’t you? Daniel! Maggie needed you! Where did you go? ‘You can’t leave me!’ Maggie had whined. ‘You can’t leave meeee!’
Will you survive? How will you make it? Where is your strength? You stupid, weak, mortal human! Do you really believe that you can beat me?
Vanessa Thompson is damned if she doesn’t at least try.
Reeking in a blended demonic stench of mania, terror, and obsession, The Wife Between Us probes deep into the human psyche to expose the truth—ugly as it may be to some—about the unmerciful consequences of unrebuked spiritual warfare. And Hendricks, along with Pekkanen, outdo themselves revealing it. In essence, spiritual warfare is prevalent to all humankind. And not even one of us who is existent in this three-dimensional physical realm is immune to it. No, not even one of us.
Our spiritual enemy’s meticulous and systematic method: destroy the human mind, destroy the human body. Once the human mind becomes corrupted, the rest of the body is sure to follow. And in the severely unsettled lives of our top-billed cast, the two consummate novelists—Hendricks and Pekkanen, respectively—encapture this Hadean enrapture pristinely.
In all of my years as a reader of prose literature, The Wife Between Us is the very first co-authored effort that I’ve ever perused over that full extent of time. And I am inclined to admit that I was originally biased towards the co-composition, what prejudging that such a collaboration (in any literary work of fiction) couldn’t possibly produce the same solid result as a traditional novel of a sole authorship and a singular vision. But I was wrong. It actually turned out to be a rather interesting reading experience.
While I found the storyline to be somewhat tedious in taking a bit too long to arrive at its point, and slightly complicated as it maneuvered around two entirely individual visions, nevertheless, the same eventually managed to show itself surprisingly approved with the turning of each excitement-building page, rendering a highly respectable and intensely riveting subject matter that held my interest tightly until the time of its highly combustible, you-won’t-even-see-it-coming conclusion. And for that, I commend the joint authorship. Yes, I stand corrected.
Overall, is The Wife Between Us a psychological suspense thriller that I would avidly recommend to those innumerable pundits of the admirable and fabled subgenre? It most definitely is.
Five psychosis affected stars.
• It is my kindly pleasure to thank St. Martin’s Press, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced review copy (ARC) of The Wife Between Us in exchange for my honest review.
Analysis of The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com
Date of Review: Monday, January 08, 2018