The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell
People who enjoyed the first book.
In a nutshell:
The remains of someone who died 25 years ago have been found. Also, the remains of someone who died just a few days ago.
N/A (Audio book)
Why I chose it:
I enjoyed the first book in this series.
What it left me feeling:
Spoilers abound, especially for the previous book (The Family Upstairs). CN: Sexual assault, emotional abuse, stalking.
This book picks up where the last one leaves off, and while I can talk about the plot, this review is going to talk a bit more about the descriptions of some of the relationships. The plot itself continues the same multi-person narrative as the last book, but there are added characters, including the wife of someone murdered by an ex-wife in the first book. And that’s the storyline that was the most challenging. I’d imagine it was hard to write, but it was also really hard to read.
I’ve not read gas lighting written so well before. I was infuriated. I wanted to skip those parts but I also knew I needed to not, because it was important that the character experiencing the abuse had her story heard. How the husband love bombs the new wife, then on his honeymoon, gets offended by her suggestion of a sexual fantasy, and turns on a dime. Then completely pretends that things didn’t happen the way they did, turning everything into her part. And once she finally extracts herself from him, whenever she sees him in public, he acts like they’re still great friends and nothing could possibly have ever happened as she described.
In the previous book, we know that the husband ends up murdered by a previous ex wife. And it is one of the more satisfying outcomes, and makes it slightly less horrible to hear about his past knowing what happens to him in the future. But still. Really hard to read.
I do care about the characters (well, most of them heh), and I think Jewell has done a good job in making the women out to be fairly full characters. The others …maybe not as much, but still, enough for me to care about them.
The other story lines aren’t quite as compelling, though there are a couple of twists and turns. Unlike the previous book, though, we know nearly everything that is going to happen, and the twists that do happen feel a bit more out there than in the previous book. I am glad I read it, but just didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book.
Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it: