Why we love it: This is a captivating and fascinating story of a weekend and a marriage; and how well we can know the people closest to us. The suspense is unrelenting, an utterly riveting tale that will have you devouring the pages to find out what lies at the end.
Paul Strom has the perfect life. He and his beautiful wife Mia are setting off to their lake house for a romantic weekend away, just the two of them; he’s promised her this will be the best day ever. Paul is a successful advertising executive, they have the big house in a nice suburb, and two gorgeous sons. The perfect weekend, the perfect wife, the perfect life. Right?
Well, perhaps. As the two drive towards the country, tensions mount and secrets from the past and the here and now threaten. How much do they trust each other? How well do they know each other? And what exactly is Paul planning when they get to the cottage?
This book is unputdownable, gripping you completely from the first chapter. We get hints of things to come and what has happened previously, leaving us wanting more. The story is mostly told over one day, with varying intervals between the chapters (sometimes fifteen minutes, sometimes an hour), and this clever way of telling the story over a limited time period provides a feeling of immediacy and urgency that will have you rushing to find out how it ends. Interspersed with Paul’s musings of his family and childhood, the story of how Paul and Mia met and fell in love, these flashbacks reveal more and more of the character’s pasts, making their presents and futures even more interesting and compelling.
The story is told by Paul in the first person. He addresses the reader directly – ‘I know what you may be thinking’ – making us feel we are part of the story, complicit in what is happening. From the very beginning, he is an intriguing character – and also contradictory and occasionally sinister. Lines such as ‘I can be helpful when I want to be, although I don’t want to remind Mia of this fact as she may come to expect it’ and ‘Me and my hot, newly skinny again wife’ (both of which appear in the first chapter) make us wonder exactly who we’re dealing with… and what he’s capable of.
The beauty of this novel is in its subtlety – things are alluded to, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions, rather than having them spelled out for us. If you enjoyed The Couple Next Door or Gone Girl, this is definitely the book for you.