#BookReview: THE LAST WIFE by Karen Hamilton @KJHAuthor

Publication: 7th July 2020 – Graydon House

Marie Langham is distraught when her childhood friend, Nina, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before Nina passes away, she asks Marie to look out for her familyher son, daughter, and husband, Stuart. Marie would do anything for Nina, so of course she agrees.

Following Nina’s death, Marie gradually finds herself drawn into her friend’s lifeher family, her large house in the countryside. But when Camilla, a mutual friend from their old art-college days, suddenly reappears, Marie begins to suspect that she has a hidden agenda. Then, Marie discovers that Nina had long suppressed secrets about a holiday in Ibiza the women took ten years previously, when Marie’s then-boyfriend went missing after a tragic accident and was later found dead.

Marie used to envy Nina’s beautiful life, but now the cards are up in the air and she begins to realize that nothing is what it seemed. As long-buried secrets start surfacing, Marie must figure out what’s true and who she can trust before the consequences of Nina’s dark secrets destroy her.

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Last year, I read many raving reviews for The Perfect Girlfriend, the debut novel by Karen Hamilton, but somehow I never got around to read it. When I was offered the chance to read her new novel, The Last Wife (with just as many raving reviews), I thought I’d finally see what everyone is raving about and now I get it. I loved The Last Wife. It is a psychological thriller about obsession, lies, and secrets with unlikable characters and many twists and, even when I wasn’t reading it, I wasn’t thinking about it, eager to go back to read and see how it ended.

The story is told from the point of view of Marie. Marie made a promise to her best friend Nina: she would take care of her family. When Nina passes away, to everyone’s surprise and displeasure, Marie moves in to live with Nina’s husband and two children to help them out during this difficult time. But Marie has her own agenda and when she starts to find out things about Marie she didn’t know about, her loyalty to her best friend is tested.

As I mentioned, I didn’t like the characters of the story, especially Marie. She is a very complex character to describe: multi-layered, intriguing, and dark, the more I read about her, the more I didn’t like her. However, the more I learned about her past, the better I understood her and, sometimes, I sympathized with her (but never liked her). Every other character in the story seems to hide a secret and, as they unravel, the twists just kept coming.

No love for the characters, but so much love for the story. Addictive, twisty, intense, The Last Wife completely captured my attention. I wanted to discover more about Nina. Is she really the perfect wife, mother, friend that everyone knew? I wanted to see how deep Marie could get entangled inside Nina’s family. Why is she so eager to move in with Nina’s family? What is she planning? Was their friendship as close as she described?

Would I recommend The Last Wife? 100% yes! It is the perfect read for all lovers of psychological thriller out there and, while I am already waiting for the author’s next novel, I am finally going to read her debut novel!

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Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy and, having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. She is also the author of the international bestseller The Perfect Girlfriend.

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