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The Younger Wife

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I have been binge-reading Sally Hepworth lately and The Younger Wife did not disappoint. She’s my new favorite author.

The story revolves around the wedding of Stephen Astor and Heather Wisher, his much younger fiancé. In fact, she’s just about the same ages of his two daughter’s, Tully and Rachel. Stephen and Heather met while Stephen was still married, although his wife is in a home for dementia. His daughters really wanted to hate Heather, but with character flaws present in each of them, it was Stephen who finds himself in hot water with no shortage of issues himself (or is there?)

Throughout the telling of the story, we find out just how dysfunctional the Astor family is. The author has a knack for perfectly descriptive characters and can weave a story that keeps me up way past my bedtime, like 3 am with a 6 am alarm! But I have no regrets. I’d give up sleep for a book like this any day of the week.

I rate this book 4 stars, but only because I felt the ending felt a bit rushed.

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

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#Review 👰🏻‍♀️ THE YOUNGER WIFE [@stmartinspress #gifted]
My rating: ☆☆☆☆
Pub date: 4/5/22

“Stephen Aston is getting married again. The only problem is, he's still married to his first wife, even though she is in a care facility for dementia. But he'll take care of that easily, by divorcing her—even if his adult daughters protest.” Full synopsis in the comments below! ⬇️

Sally Hepworth does it again! Her last two novels have put her up there with Liane Moriarty as my “Queens of the Family Drama”™️. I really enjoyed this high-stakes multigenerational story, all about anxiety and (fatal) flaws. I read it in two quick sittings because I hated putting it down. The characters are the most memorable I’ve read from her. I think I liked this one even more than THE GOOD SISTER. My favorite part? The ending. It’s written so simply but packed a huge punch. Highly recommend. Thank you @stmartinspress for my e-ARC! The only bad thing about reading it so early is that I have to wait even longer for her next one. 🙈

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Tully and Rachel are sisters who have a mom with dementia, and a father with a young fiancee. The catch is, mom and dad are still married, and dad proceeds to divorce his nursing home-bound wife. Tully has other headaches besides this: her husband has invested in sliding enterprise, and her younger son Miles seems very troubled. Sister Rachel uses food as a shield against a past trauma. Author Sally Hepworth has given us another complex, interesting set of characters, and their actions and reactions lead to a surprising ending.

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In the first chapter, sixtyish Stephen marries Heather, who is younger than both of his adult daughters. The ceremony has just concluded when an unseen tragedy strikes. Someone in the wedding party is injured, but we don't know the victim's identity, how serious the injury, or whether it was inflicted by another person. And we won't know until much later in the book.

The action then rewinds to reveal the major players. Stephen recently divorced his wife, who is in a nursing home with dementia. Their daughter Tully is happily married with two children, and their daughter Rachel has a thriving baking business. But both have serious neuroses, caused by issues from earlier in their lives, that are preventing them from achieving fulfillment. Heather, the bride, is a successful interior decorator who has family secrets of her own.

In this compelling psychological thriller, the reader is propelled from chapter to chapter, with occasional tantalizing flashes of the wedding adding more suspense. The author is skilled at building tension (with no graphic violence) at the same time as she is developing her main characters. An excellent, engaging thriller.

My thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of the book.

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The Younger Wife but Sally Hepworth is not your run of the mill psychological thrillers. Tully and Rachel’s dad, Stephen, is engaged and set to marry a woman his daughters age. The girls are totally against this as their mother, Stephen‘s current wife, is in an assisted living home for her dementia. Stephen‘s plan is to divorce her and marry his new younger fiancé, Heather. Tully and Rachel begin to uncover family secrets that they must get to the bottom of.

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I loved this book and fans of domestic suspense and psychological thrillers will too. Reading multiple points of view from convincing, quirky characters pulled me through the novel, and I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter. When a mother is put into a nursing home for dementia care, the father starts dating a younger woman about the age of his two daughters. When one of the daughters discovers her mother hid a stash of cash with a stranger’s name, she looks into the source of the mysterious money. An engrossing page turner with twisty subplots. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher St Martin’s Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was amazing!!! I had an ARC from NetGalley. So there’s a well respected doctor and his wife has early onset dementia. They have two daughters- both hiding issues since they were younger, but they look like the perfect family. The dad ends up with a younger girlfriend, close to the daughters age. Then end up getting married and then it chaos.
Really I thought I knew the story. I believed the girls and the girlfriend. It made sense but there was always the tiny hint of doubt- I’d go back and reread looking for a clue, did I read that right, did I miss something? But there’s enough doubt because the author sets the stage but doesn’t give a definitive answer. The girlfriend of the dad also has a troubled youth history. The most likable character is Darcy- he ends up dating abd working for the daughter Rachel.
But there were clues early in about the daughters and why they were quirky but again perfect family- did they consciously ignore to maintain the illusion or were they wrapped in themselves and didn’t care?
I liked the dad at first, then I hated him and then I pitied him.
This book ended so well. Can you trust memories or perceived memories, do you know the whole picture? How many can family secrets and misunderstandings ruin people? There were a lot of walls in this family and not enough connection.
I look forward to anything this author produces in the future.

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I absolutely loved The Good Sister. I was so excited when I got a chance to read this latest book. Started with the wedding of Stephen and Heather in the presence of his daughters Rachel, Tully and his ex-wife Pam. A crime happened at the wedding but we don’t know what happened, who was hurt. All this narrated by an unknown person. Then the story goes back to a few months earlier.

Most of the characters in the book are like real life people as they are far from perfect. They can’t get any more real than this. They have flaws, ups and downs. Everyone is going through a difficult phase caused by present/past secrets which shaped their lives. Feel some of the issues have been repeated a lot, especially Tully’s. Loved the banter and silly jokes between Rachel and Darcy. It would have been great if Darcy got a few more pages as he is a refreshing character. The bonding between sisters grew as the story progressed.

Expected to dislike Heather when the story started but felt sorry for her after knowing her back story. She jumped from the frying pan into the fire. I don’t know anything about dementia so I can't figure out the behavior of Pam when she was suffering from this, like all the accusations she threw out. Abuse and other forms of assault are the main themes of this book.

I am ambivalent about how the story ended as it left me perplexed. It left me questioning the situations, suspicions in the book really happened or figments of the characters’ imagination? This confusion changed how I felt about this book. It seemed Hepworth tricked her characters and took them for a ride.

Overall, this fast-paced book that pulls you in from the first page.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for giving me an opportunity to read this.

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The Younger Wife starts off slowly, luring you along as plot points are revealed one by one until it takes off and you can’t stop reading. The book starts with a wedding where something terrible happens, but we’re not shown what it is until the end of the book. We’re introduced to a well off family where the father is a doctor, the mother has dementia and the two grown daughters are close to them both. But the father wants them to meet Heather, the interior designer and he’s divorcing their mother so he can marry this much younger woman. And we’re shown the perfect life all seem to have is filled with contradictions and flaws, most of all their beloved father. The twists and turns throughout the book are the brilliant and even at the end we’re never quite sure what is really the truth.
A great suspenseful read

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Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the free book.
Sally Hepworth does it again. I just love her family drama/suspense books, and this was a fun one. Throughout the book, I was left wondering what is going on with the hot water bottle, and what has made this family the way that they are. I loved the three different POVs. This helped build the suspense and increase the hints on what was going on during the book. Also, I bet you can't read the prologue and not want to sit and finish the book in one sitting.
I was shocked, mad, and wowed through my reading experience. There is just so much here, and the layers of complexity help make it the type of story I have come to expect from Hepworth. She captures families and their drama so well, and this one is no exception.

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The Younger Wife by S. Hepworth, published by St. Martin's Press is a complex story. Told in a multiple pov, the storyline keptme in suspense from the first page til the last sentence. Nothing is ever clear, the twists and turns are plentiful , I was kept guessing - and this mystery/thriller isn't what I was expecting. The author delivered a highly entertaing twisty read . The story of a family build on love, lies, betrayal, issues and even though there's kind of an hea for some of the characters, other are left hanging in the wind. I loved just everything about the book, 5 stars.

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As always, Hepworth's characters are charming, nuanced, slightly absurd, and all the more realistic for it. My problem here is that, though I doubt this was the intention, it would be very easy to take away an overall message that's very...victim blamey? It isn't gaslighting if she's actually crazy? Don't necessarily believe victims? Not exactly any of those, really, but also not not those things, so.

And for the record: Believe women. I would rather defend a liar than silence a victim any day.

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Took me a few chapters to get into but once I did, I flew through.

Tully and Rachel, daughters of Stephen, have perfect lives to the casual observer but, secrets on the inside. What secrets is Stephen keeping? It’s a good mix of was he or wasn’t he? And just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the last chapter makes you question it all over again.

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Reading this book in its entirety in less than 1 day has left me with conflicting thoughts. The book certainly kept me captivated in that I had to read it to its conclusion and I wasn’t able to put it down! However, finishing the book left me with more questions than answers. The subject matter of the book is very serious so perhaps that’s the point. There are never any clear answers.

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This novel is about three women, all in their thirties. Two are sisters. One is marrying their father, who may or may not be a psychopathic abuser. The ending is ambiguous. I had mixed feelings about this story. Let's start with the good: all of the main characters are three-dimensional. Heather, the soon-t0-be-stepmother, is moving on (we think) from a horrific childhood in which her father abused her mother and was clear-eyed and unapologetic about it. Tully (nickname for Natalie) has some kind of anxiety disorder. She's the mother of two boys and wife of a good man, an attorney, who made a bad investment and they're about to lose almost everything. She is a kleptomaniac. Her sister, Rachel, is a fantastic pastry chef who specializes in wedding cakes in the four-figure range. Unfortunately, Rachel has been eating her feelings ever since she was raped as a teen and told no one about it. In the novel, she finds a nice guy who, thankfully, dilutes the neuroticism of every other character in this wild story. Steven, the dad, is a surgeon, who may or may not be a dangerous sociopath, and the tension builds as the marriage draws near. Will Heather walk into a possibly dangerous situation or will she somehow open her eyes and see life as it really is? Will the daughters overcome their pathological burdens? The book is well-written, and I was riveted, but frankly, I'm not a fan of ambiguous endings, and was disappointed in that aspect. Still, a compelling read.

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Thanks Netgalley for the early arc! SALLY how DO you do this again and again? Impeccable timing and twists you don’t see coming. Relatable characters and events that have you CERTAIN you know what’s up - and then whiplash! Loved the water bottle angle and the authors note at the end.

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This book was ok at best! I have read all of Sally's books and unfortunately this is my least favorite. I wouldn't consider it any kind of thriller maybe more of a family drama.

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Sally Hepworth is becoming one of my favorite go to authors for a suspenseful read. The Younger Wife is told through multiple viewpoints, and each character is fresh, flawed, and very real. I was pulled into this story and was kept wondering what the outcome would be for the two main mysteries. A really good read that will keep you turning the pages.

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I tried my best to give the benefit of the the doubt to the author, by deciding that what I was reading was a sometimes funny and weird dark comedy of sorts. But it’s the “of sorts” that I found offensive. Specifically, I was stunned at how the author handled the very serious subject of physical abuse. As a victim of physical abuse in my long ago past, and as an always advocate for anyone who has ever been physically abused, I found it impossible to not speak out about how the subject of physical abuse was handled in this story.

While this is a fictional story, I still think it provides an obvious physical abuser with excuses for the abusive behavior. And worse yet, the story actually throws doubt on whether the abuse really happened or not. And I also felt like there was too much back-handed victim blaming.

The story is well-written, but the serious subject of physical abuse does not lend itself well to comedy. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of physical violence will certainly wince while reading the violent passages. I truly feel like the author should rethink the excuses made in the story that were designed to throw doubt on whether the abuse happened. For instance, someone is choked, but there are no hand marks around the neck. I actually was so upset at that passage that I had to stop reading for a day. If you have ever seen an abuser come up with a litany of excuses for their violent acts, blaming the victim is most probably number one on that list.

This book is set for publication in April of 2022. If there is still time to do so, I believe the author may be able to somewhat mitigate the issue, by making a few changes to the story and/or to add some sort of statement to readers to assuage the distress victims of physical abuse suffer from what feels like a bunch of excuses that feel like victim blaming. Just think what one of Larry Nasser’s victims might feel reading the excuses for the physical abuse in this story and how it feels to even suggest that the abuse never happened. It’s definitely a tricky endeavor to treat a very serious subject as comedic. There is a fine line involved and I think it was crossed in this story.

And for the record, I have read plenty of books that contain physical abuse subject matter. But this the first one I have read that actually provides excuses and throws doubt on whether any abuse actually took place. or not. And just because a romantic partner was drinking it’s not okay to yank her by the hair and carry on with even more physical violence. If the other person felt afraid, he could have called the police. He wasn’t afraid, he was angry! In addition, there was a blatant act of a prescribing/dispensing violation by a doctor in this story of providing a drug to his young partner, and then, surprise, his partner suffered a medical event, And yet, there was still an excuse provided for whether the abuse actually took place or not. Ugh!

Note: While it is my practice not to write negative reviews, the information I have provided here is not meant to be negative towards the writing itself. However, it is definitely negative as to how such a serious subject of physical abuse was handled in this story. I really want to believe that the author somehow didn’t realize how very egregious the victim-blaming message is in this story. One would hope an editor would have seen some issues. I hope the author will consider some revisions, because something as simple as that may save this story from offending physical abuse victims...and there are way too many of them in this world to count. And if any physical abuse victims respond to this saying it doesn’t bother them a bit, I would say they must be the lucky ones who escaped what most victims of abuse suffer. Think about Larry Nasser...one of his associates actually said, "Larry would never do anything inappropriate." If you haven’t already, read up on how many people did not believe the awful truth of Larry Nassar. My heart goes out to his victims who had to endure someone saying did that abuse “really” happen? Why? Because he was a licensed osteopathic physician?! Yes! it happened...and it happened over and over again.

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It's been a long time since I stayed up all night reading a book.  4.5 stars, this author does not disappoint. 

Thank you to NetGalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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