It’s Good Friday, the first day of the Easter weekend, and I’ve got a steaming cup of chai and a slice of date bread to keep me company. It’s a gorgeous, bright, sunny, chilly morning, the perfect time to write a post about a couple of great books.
Just this morning I finished reading a brilliant book by Sarah Gailey, The Echo Wife. I must have read a review of this book, I can’t remember when or where, but I’m so glad I did. This short novel, barely 250 pages, tells the story of Evelyn Caldwell, a scientist who is doing ground-breaking research on cloning. Her husband, Nathan, is having an affair with Martine, a genetically cloned replica of Evelyn, a softer, more pliant, more obedient version. Shortly after winning a prestigious award, Evelyn gets a call from Martine, asking her to meet for coffee. By the end of that day, Nathan will be dead and the two wives will have to think fast to clean up the mess. What follows is, to quote a review from “Entertainment Weekly”, “a trippy domestic thriller which takes the extramarital affair trope in some intriguingly weird new directions” (https://ew.com/books/sarah-gailey-echo-wife-preview/). I don’t want to give away any more details, because half the fun of this book is the not-knowing, but let me say that it’s one of the best, most intriguing, most insightful, thought-provoking, darkly funny books I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever. If I hadn’t read the Acknowledgements early on in my reading, I wouldn’t have realized what a soul-searching mission about “abuse and grooming and identity” (p 256) this book must have been for the author. Gailey calls what Evelyn does to her clones “neurocognitive programming”, a cold, clinical, scientifically-detached term for the extensive manipulation she subjects them to on their journey to completion. This book was amazing on so many levels, containing concepts I could barely wrap my head around. Imagine Jodi from ASA Harrison’s The Silent Wife meeting one of Ira Levin’s Stepford wives, but written with the brilliant, dark, subversive language we would expect from Margaret Atwood. This novel was a confession, an apology, an admission of guilt, a therapy session, and a frightening exploration into the very depths of the soul to uncover just how far we would go to achieve our ultimate goal. I think I need to buy my own copy, as it’s the kind of book that offers a better, deeper understanding each time it is read. It’s too bad that it’s classified as “Science Fiction” and kept in that section at my public library, as I think it may end up hidden away from the browsing eyes of the general fiction reader who wouldn’t normally read sci-fi (like me). I’ll do my best to promote it through this post and word-of-mouth.
And just briefly, I finished listening to another domestic thriller, the latest by Canadian author Shari Lapena, The End of Her, and I have to say, it was deliciously devious. Stephanie and Patrick are a young couple struggling to keep things together while dealing with colicky twins. They seem to have everything (except enough sleep!), but when a woman from Patrick’s past shows up and starts making accusations about his role in the death of his first wife, their seemingly-perfect lives begin to unravel. How will they cope with this woman, the blackmail, a possible investigation, and the uncertainty of their future? This book twists and turns like the best domestic thrillers, and kept me wanting to find more opportunities to listen and find out what happens next. I haven’t always enjoyed Lapena’s books, but I would highly recommend this one if you are in the mood for a story that will keep you up too late at night just to get to the last page.
That’s all for today. Wishing you a Safe and Happy Easter!Bye for now…