Wife by Alafair Burke starts out the New Year with a
thrilling read. It is more plot-driven since many of the characters
are not very likable. The story is intense and dark being
told by a possibly unreliable narrator.
The author does think “readers might disagree who is
likable and who is not. It is a myth that characters must
fall into one category or the other. I want to write complicated
characters. Just as in real life it is hard to be always likable
or not. At some point, everyone in the book is doing something
that might be conceived as bad, with degrees of culpability.
There are reasons why they are doing certain things and people
can decide if those reasons are justified, excused, or understandable.
The characters I like are Angela, her mother, her son, Colin,
The storyline concentrates on Angela, who suffered extreme
trauma in her teen years and now learns that her husband,
Jason, maybe a sexual predator. This novel is timely and will
force people to question how they think about the victims
of sexual misconduct and those they accuse. Today more and
more women accuse politicians, celebrities, and businessmen
of harassment. Burke must have had a crystal ball since she
wrote this novel a year ago. The author delves into both facets,
the accuser and the accused, where readers wonder if Jason
actually raped someone, harassed them, was it a misunderstanding,
or was it mutual?
Burke explores how “Angela sees her life going viral.
She has no idea of the process because she has no background
in law enforcement. People always think the wife had to know
and is complicit. The idea for the book came from my responses
as a prosecutor, which is ‘she would be the last person
to know.’ Jason is not going to tell her he is sexually
harassing women. Since she has no expertise or reliable information
she must piece together the truth through her memories, news
reports, and just having some skepticism of what he tells
her. Think about it. Her husband was accused of sexual misconduct
so his defense has to be there was mutual consent. For him,
to be criminally innocent makes him culpable in the marriage.
His legal exoneration means he has been having affairs.”
The Wife expertly delves into the different dynamics
of relationships and the needed compromises that must be made
to resolve conflicting values.