Book Review: The Housewife by Valerie Keogh

Source: GoodReads.com


“There’s no place like home” – that’s what I tell myself as I pull another flawless meal from the oven. This perfect house on a quiet street was supposed to be my sanctuary, a place to recover. But everything changed the moment I saw that woman in the charity shop. She triggered something dark, buried deep within my memory… 

By no means unentertaining, The Housewife nonetheless falls prey to “Girl on the Train” syndrome. It’s touted as wildly thrilling and with a twist you’ll never see coming, and can no book just be a JOURNEY? Must it always be about the denouement? Because this kind of marketing never truly serves the book. I did in fact see the ending coming. Most readers will. It doesn’t mean that the book isn’t worth reading.

Just that we all need to cool it with expecting a twist that will cause an earthquake in our brains.

The Housewife circles around Diane, a woman recovering from a trauma and suffering from short-term amnesia. While she remembers her husband and the basics of her life, she can’t recall what’s caused her memory loss, or why she’s so afraid of the sitting room in her home. Often, she hears the haunting sound of a baby crying, and it sends her spiraling down into the darkest shadows of her mind. These moments of terror impact the rest of her life – and she begins to forget to pick her daughter up from nursery or make dinner on time for her husband. When she tries to pick up the pieces and volunteer at a local charity shop, she has a run-in with a woman who looks at her with scorn – and begins to “stalk” her around their small suburb of London. But is she truly being stalked? Or is she imagining things?

Horrified by what she sees as the disintegration of her mind, Diane hides what’s happening from her husband, and begins to drink secretly during the evenings. Her paranoia soon leads her to believe that everyone is conspiring against her, and that even her own house is a dangerous place, full of barbed memories around every corner.

As I mentioned earlier, the “twist” is not really a twist. There’s a lot to examine in this book that goes largely unpacked by the author. For instance, the utter misogyny and contempt displayed by Diane’s husband (I forget the prick’s name already), the odd whirlwind romance they have (in this day and age, does it really make sense that she wouldn’t see his house until the day she moved in??), and the truly upsetting reason for her amnesia. The “twist” is revealed and I think the horror of it is almost… too much for the author? It’s glossed over, in favour of bog-standard notions of revenge. I’m being deliberately obtuse, because spoilers are awful, but if you read, you’ll see what I mean.

I do think The Housewife is a good little thriller, but it has the potential to be so much more, and particularly in the relationship of the husband and wife, there’s A LOT to unravel that could have provided meaty character development.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I appreciate the chance, as always!

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