Synopsis: Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairy tale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive–if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life, the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. (Goodreads)
Themes Explored: jealousy, classism, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, narcissism, weight management, real estate, corporate espionage, suspense, thriller, mystery, destitution, manipulation, ageism, death, dyslexia
Review: Ladies, the man of your dreams is one backstabbing, pseudo-friendship away! Ever looked at a man and gone, woah, I wish I was his wife? Well you are in luck. According to Liv Constantine, all you need to land your dream guy is a size 4 waist, blonde hair, narcissism, self-hatred, a gym membership, a chip on your shoulder the size of the Titanic, and a pathological hatred of children. Enter the newest thriller novel dying for a movie adaptation, The Last Mrs Parrish.
Honestly, this book reads like a rejected psycho thriller meant for the big screen but ends up playing on the Lifetime channel at Noon. I read, a lot. I try to finish every novel I start, mainly due to pride. It’s a problem, especially when the narrative drags. Anyways, The Last Mrs. Parrish reads like a cross between Gone Girl , Fatal Attraction, and Fifty Shades of Grey, only without the novelty or the disturbing erotica.
Coming from an impoverished background in Missouri, Amber decides to move herself up the social ladder and sets her sights on Daphne and Jackson Parrish, a wealthy couple living in Bishops Harbor on Long Island Sound. With a single minded focus, Amber seduces Daphne into friendship by pretending to have a deceased sister and then starts moving in on Jackson. Amber brutally manipulates anyone who comes between her and her ultimate goal of becoming the next Mrs. Parrish. Approximately halfway through the narrative the point of view switches from Amber to Daphne. Suffice to say everything is not as it seems.
First of all, I enjoy reading about complex characters with questionable goals. However, Amber Patterson, the antagonist, takes the crown for most insufferable character of 2018 (so far). She makes mental snide comments about her coworkers, despises children, and is jealous of Daphne’s dead sister. Her sole motivation for destroying Daphne’s life is that her childhood sucked. Really. The first fourth of this book details in excruciating detail Amber’s bitterness and hatred of everyone who is even slightly better off than her. There is absolutely nothing likable about Amber. Everything she does is mean spirited, small minded, and full of hatred. Amber comes across as a caricature of a Disney villain. All she needs to seal the deal is a scene offering Daphne a poisoned apple.
Second, the novel presents Daphne in two lights: 1) as a passive wife and 2) as a master manipulator. Apparently Daphne wants out of her marriage and sees Amber as the perfect out. Her grand plan for driving her husband into Amber’s grasping arms? Going from a size 4 to a size 6. Oh and wearing unflattering swimsuits. Yep. What a mastermind.
Not that Jackson seems worth the effort. Other than money and good looks (because only drop dead gorgeous men are wealthy), he has no redeeming qualities. I do not enjoy writing negative reviews. Writing a book takes a lot of effort and willpower. However, lazy writing and poor characterization derails even the most compelling of plots. A strong villain needs a good reason for existing. Moaning about the pain of life and how unfair it can be when someone else has more money is not a strong enough reason to drive a plot forward. And a random corporate espionage plot thrown in at the last moment further confused the narrative.
Finally, the novel ends with the idea that severe domestic abuse is an appropriate punishment for extreme social climbers. Yes, Amber has no redeeming qualities. But ending up with an abusive narcissist who believes in marital rape seems a tad extreme. I finished the novel with the distinct impression that domestic abuse is simply what some women deserve. I did not enjoy this reading experience.
The Last Mrs. Parrish, HarperLuxe, 2017, ISBN 9780062688163