The Three of Us

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Pub Date May 16 2023 | Archive Date May 16 2023
PENGUIN GROUP Putnam | G.P. Putnam's Sons

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Best Book of the Year
Time • Real Simple • Oprah Daily

A Belletrist Book Club Pick

"As short and sharp as a pairing knife . . . Moves along so briskly and with such sly wit . . . Deliciously wicked." —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Long-standing tensions between a husband, his wife, and her best friend finally come to a breaking point in this sharp domestic comedy of manners, told brilliantly over the course of one day.

What if your two favorite people hated each other with a passion?

The wife has it all. A big house in a nice neighborhood, a ride-or-die snarky best friend, Temi, with whom to laugh about facile men, and a devoted husband who loves her above all else—even his distaste for Temi.

On a seemingly normal day, Temi comes over to spend a lazy afternoon with the wife: drinking wine, eating snacks, and laughing caustically about the husband's shortcomings. But when the husband comes home and a series of confessions are made, the wife's two confidants are suddenly forced to jockey for their positions, throwing everyone's integrity into question—and their long-drawn-out territorial dance, carefully constructed over years, into utter chaos. 

Told in three taut, mesmerizing parts—the wife, the husband, the best friend—over the course of one day, The Three of Us is a subversively comical, wildly astute, and painfully compulsive triptych of domestic life that explores cultural truths, what it means to defy them, and the fine line between compromise and betrayal when it comes to ourselves and the people we're meant to love.
Best Book of the Year
Time • Real Simple • Oprah Daily

A Belletrist Book Club Pick

"As short and sharp as a pairing knife . . . Moves along so briskly and with such sly wit . . . Deliciously wicked."...

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ISBN 9780593540718
PRICE $26.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 413 members

Featured Reviews

This book was everything I wanted it to be. It had me turned pages without even realizing. It was so good!

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The Three of Us is a story filled with tension told over the course of one day from the perspectives of three different people. A husband, his wife, and her best friend. There's this level of intensity throughout that gives off this uncomfortable feeling. The plot is original and fast-paced. I enjoyed the psychological tension. Highly recommended!

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This book is unlike any other that I've read. It takes place on one long day during which nothing much happens until the very end, told from each perspective of the three people spending the day together (a woman, her husband, and her best friend). The main premise of the book is that the husband can't stand the best friend, who is constantly present in his marriage to the woman. I really liked that each of the characters recounts a different part of the day rather than retelling the whole day from their own perspective. Despite being set on one day, the story also covers years of context leading up to the day, interwoven throughout the current day's events.

The characters are difficult to love, but I feel that adds a welcome tension to the reading experience. The woman is too passive, the best friend is obnoxious, and the husband is boring and status-driven (yet, I found him to be the most relatable). The subtlety of the narrative rests in the things that remain unsaid between each pair of characters. There's both too much intimacy and not enough; a tense mix of overt aggression, passive aggression, and avoidance, secrecy, and lies. These contradictions sucked me in and I couldn't stop reading, waiting to see which of the characters cracked first.

And the ending...I was hoping for a twist, but I was nowhere near in my predictions. The ending makes this book a masterpiece.

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This is a very fast read that covers the day in the life of a married couple and the wife's friend. There are three sections, from each of the character's perspective.

I enjoyed the building of the story as we learn a little about each person and their past and how they met and how they relate to each other.

In a nutshell, the friend is not cool with the wife being married. She and the friend had a life before marriage and she really wants it to go back that way and will do what it takes to "rescue" her friend. She does not like the husband.

The wife is probably the dullest character even though I enjoyed her bit too. She's a little complacent and not very strongly opinionated, like her friend. She is happy to be married but she just likes doing the bare minimum.

The husband is the breadwinner. He likes being married because his wife doesn't have drama in her life and he likes things simple. And now he wants a child and the wife agreed finally that it would be okay.

The friend intervenes and the ending is pretty jarring, you are really left thinking, WTF just happened????

I really liked this and am looking forward to more from this author.

definitely a character study of marriage and having a best friend who is single and not letting things go.

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Genuinely fantastic, in a way that I would not have expected. It is not like anything I’ve read before, and really strikes me as a title that would be a phenomenal read for an English class. First and foremost, this was an excellent observation of the impact of an additional party to a marriage. Secondly, this was such a simple but gripping story that led you trying to decide whose side you were on the entire time. This story leaves you thinking, wondering, trying to piece together the puzzle.

The book reads like a really long text message between friends, as it lacks formal dialogue and dialogue attribution (he/she said). There are so few characters in the book though that you don’t need these attributions, and it allows you to be absorbed into the story. The husband and wife remain unnamed throughout the story, which gives off major Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) vibes, in that although the story is told from three characters’ perspectives, leaving two unnamed is intentional by the author to have you see who really holds the power.

I found myself wondering ‘What is going to happen? Why am I reading this book?’ I spent the first two thirds of the book wishing there had been a suspenseful teaser, but the lack of a teaser made it hit harder. I found myself GRIPPED, holding my breath, waiting for the big reveal at the end and it was like a cold bucket of water dousing me, leaving me completely unfulfilled when the story just ENDS and I realized that dammit this is a really good book for English class because I have to decide what happened. I have to infer, determine who was in the wrong, and what really happened.

I want to criticize the author for leaving me hanging, but instead I choose to stand and applaud this choice because the joke you don’t stop thinking about is the one with a big setup that you don’t hear the punchline to. Well done, very well done.

Thanks to Penguin Group Putnam and NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to read and review this title.

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