The Newlyweds puzzles me. Like, a lot.
I picked it on Netgalley, intrigued by the synopsis: a good old psychological drama, two newlyweds (hence the title) hiding things from each other; pretty straightforward yet interesting enough to make me anticipate some plot twists.
It delivered, in a way, but – puzzled, as I said. Stay with me for a moment here.
Pretty! I love the coloring and the silhouettes, it fits the theme quite well.
- Ashton is an unusual character. He’s supposed to be the villain, and he fits the bill – rich neurosurgeon, mean to his wife, all polish and no substance. As the story progresses though, he proves to be less clear-cut. ⅔ of TN in, I started wondering if he was a regular person caught between his past mistakes and his new life. Spoiler alert: nope. Looking back, his development becomes pretty clear, and kudos to Arianne for avoiding the unidimensional bad character cliche.
- Vivien has her own agenda too. Much appreciated! She plays the abused wife well enough – it’s clear it’s a ploy, if you read between the lines – and what I mistook for a too quick pacing is a cool way to set things in motion.
- Style-wise, the pacing I’ve just mentioned fooled me. I’m a seasoned reader, it’s very hard to catch me by surprise when it comes of structure. Arianne did it. Good job!
- The pov. First person just doesn’t work with this kind of plot, and it’s the main reason why I’m not sold on TN. Look, I’m sitting in the third limited pov camp and I will die here, but I can appreciate a good first person pov if done right. Here the 180 Vivien does around the middle of the book invalidates the first half and you have to start anew. But why? Written in third, it would have slayed the reader – in a good way.
- I love plot twists. I live for tropes inversion and the gasped ahhhhhhh of realization when Thing A turns out to be Thing Z. Cady? Unexpected and cool! The misdiagnosis of Georgia-May? Whoa! Lindy? Uh, a bit of a stretch, but okay, I guess. Lily? Nope. That’s where I draw the line. She popped up just like that, at the very end and I’m sorry, but I can’t buy it.
- I can’t buy the eighteen years of revenge (plus daughter) either without a solid reason. But Ashton got her pregnant and abandoned her, you say! Yes. But it’s not enough for her to keep going for that long, devoting her whole life (plus daughter 2x) to that. The actual execution notwithstanding, you want me to believe all that? Then show me Vivien’s compulsions, her obsessions, how her mental health deteriorates over time.
- After all is said and done, Vivien trusts Ashton enough to go shark diving. I mean, uh?
All in all, it’s 2/5 stars on GR, 5 stars here.