Title: THE YOUNGER WIFE
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Read: October 2021
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
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.
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon Heather as nothing but an interloper. Heather is the same age as Rachel and even younger than Tully. Clearly she's a golddigger and after their father's money. Heather has secrets that she's keeping close, and reasons of her own for wanting to marry Stephen.
With their mother unable to speak for herself, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family's secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is. But will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses...in all of them?
When I say that one thing I love about Sally Hepworth’s novels is that they are a “lighter” kind of read, I don’t mean that they lack depth. I am merely referring to the same tongue-in-cheek Aussie humour that makes a lot of Australian crime fiction such a pleasure to read. On one hand we have a mystery to sink our teeth into, on the other we are able to have a giggle here and there. Isn’t that just the perfect balance?
THE YOUNGER WIFE is all about family secrets, so if you love that theme as much as I do, you’re in for a treat. Imagine your father introducing you to his new girlfriend, soon to be wife, who is a few years younger than you. Now step it up one notch and imagine that your mother is still alive and still married to your Dad, and is in a nursing home dying from advanced Alzheimer’s. How would you feel? It’s a complex question with no right or wrong answer, but everyone will be able to relate to Rachel and Tully on some level as they grapple with their own feelings about this. But in the process of this upheaval, new family secrets are being brought out into the open, begging the question whether it really is the new wife they should be afraid of ....
I love the way Hepworth slowly twists the lens and shifts the focus so the edges of the perfect family blur slightly as the shadows come more into focus. Has everything Rachel and Tully have believed about their family been a lie? How much denial does it take to keep up the pretence of a happy marriage and family life? There are some very complex themes here, which may have been heavy handed or disturbing in other books, but which Hepworth handles with a gentle insight and care that made me feel deeply emotionally connected to the characters.
THE YOUNGER WIFE will appeal to readers who enjoy a lighter mystery that focuses more on the slow reveal of family secrets than the crime. Full of warm wisdom and tongue-in-cheek humour, it made a compelling and enjoyable read I was loathe to put down. Very enjoyable!
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for the free copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.