Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Echo Wife, the brand new domestic thriller from author Sarah Gailey. My thanks to publisher Hodder & Stoughton for providing an advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
A dark and suspenseful novel of lies, betrayal, and identity – perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.
It was meant to be an evening to honour and celebrate Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning, career-making scientific research – but Evelyn has things on her mind.
Things like Nathan, her husband, who has left her for a younger, better, newer woman. A woman who is now pregnant – but shouldn’t be – and is strikingly familiar. Too familiar to be a coincidence.
A woman who shouldn’t exist.
The Echo Wife is a propulsive new novel from an international rising star about identity, murder, and the choices society forces women to make.
I’ll be honest, when I was asked if I liked domestic thrillers, I wasn’t quite expecting something like this. I mean, there is replacing your wife with a better model, one more in tune with your wants and desires, and then there is replacing your wife with a better model, which is exactly what Nathan Caldwell does to his wife Evelyn. Whether it is jealousy, her focus on her career, or her just not being willing to have children, she is no longer the woman he wants to be with, so he sets out to find the perfect replacement. Martine is the perfect replacement. Too perfect.
This sits somewhere between domestic noir and speculative fiction, dipping a toe into the sci-fi modelling but not so much. as to put a reader off if they are not really into the subject. It’s certainly not my go to, I usually actively avoid it, and yet I was completely drawn into this book from the start, from the challenging concepts and moralistic questions that it brought forth, as well as the whole fascination surrounding the subject at the heart of Evelyn’s award winning research – cloning.
Oh, not to mention a touch of murder. Just a smidge.
This really is a blend of the past and present, readers being taken into Evelyn’s past to help to explain why she is such a detached, rigid and clinical woman. It is far easier to dislike her than like her and yet I was invested in her story, and that of her literal replacement, Martine. They are chalk and cheese, Martine passive and agreeable where Evelyn is argumentative and a touch stubborn, and yet there is a clear bond that grows between them. Sometimes it is hard to read the way in which Evelyn treats Martine, but easy to understand why she reacts as she does. The way in which the author explores this oh-so-complex relationship is intriguing really makes you thinks, as does Martine’s growth as she realises the woman she can be out of Nathan’s controlling shadow.
It is a fascinating subject that is explored here – the potential implications and dangers of cloning and the moral dilemmas and question marks attached to it. This story brings them all to the fore, about whether cloning has a purpose or even a practical place in society. But whilst it is important to the story, it is really a background to the commentary on the relationships of the main characters. This is a new and even more dangerous form of gaslighting, which thankfully is a few steps away from even being a possibility.
This book really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. If is short at roughly 250 pages, and the chapters are short and pacey. Whilst science plays a key part, it is completely accessible and absolutely compelling, so if you are looking for a fresh twist one a tale of skewed domesticity and toxic relationships, the this could be the book for you.
About the Author
Hugo Award-winning and bestselling author Sarah Gailey is an internationally published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and The Boston Globe, and they won a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Their most recent fiction credits include Vice and The Atlantic. Their debut novella, River of Teeth, was a 2018 finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Their bestselling adult novel debut, Magic For Liars, was published in 2019.