In Samantha Downing’s debut novel, My Lovely Wife, the unnamed narrator who is a tennis coach and his wife, Millicent, a real estate agent, have been happily(?) married for 15 years and have two children. One might assume that they are a little bored, the way couples sometimes are after many years of marriage, and are looking for ways to recharge their relationship. Many in this situation would probably consider taking on a hobby together but it is highly doubtful that they would decide to engage in the type of activities that this couple chooses.
This book portrays a fairly typical family-i.e. the kids fighting with each other, playing sports, the dad teaching people how to play tennis at the local Country Club and Millicent trying to be successful enough at her career to afford the expensive suburban life her family has become accustomed to-each of them doing what family members usually do. But, then, there are the sporadic date nights out in the garage where the parents lock themselves in their car with snacks and plot how to further their off the hook extracurricular activity.
Yes, this story is way over the top and unrealistic but that is the beauty of it. The characters are all pretty much deliciously horrible which adds to the fun. You will keep reading, afraid at what might happen next. What is most noteworthy is that in the past six years or so, there have been many psychological thrillers that have been advertised as the NEXT Gone, Girl or Girl on the Train and, for the most part, none of them have lived up to the hype. I haven’t read any reviews suggesting that this book should be considered as a worthy successor to the aforementioned books but I think the sheer originality and (partially) unexpected ending seals the deal. I can’t wait to see what Downing dreams up next!