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My Husband's Wife: A Novel

My Husband's Wife: A Novel

by Jane Corry

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“It won’t be so bad when you’re there,” says my new husband before kiss­ing me. “I know,” I say before he peels off.

Two lies. Small white ones. Designed to make the other feel better. But that’s how some lies start. Small. Well meaning. Until they get too big to


“It won’t be so bad when you’re there,” says my new husband before kiss­ing me. “I know,” I say before he peels off.

Two lies. Small white ones. Designed to make the other feel better. But that’s how some lies start. Small. Well meaning. Until they get too big to handle.

“The novel’s plot is as provocative as its title, and the book nicely fits into the psychological suspense genre that’s riding a slipstream of popularity, thanks to the success of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train." --Washington Post 

For readers of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door comes an addictive psychological thriller that's already an international sensation.

When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. For whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything. 

But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants.

When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newlywed London lawyer Lily Macdonald’s best intentions land her in some of the worst predicaments in British author Corry’s devilishly devious U.S. debut, in which almost no one proves totally trustworthy. For instance, Lily’s generous impulse to befriend nine-year-old neighbor Carla Cavoletti, a bullied Italian immigrant with whose vulnerability she identifies, will eventually change the course of the lives of Lily and her artist husband, Ed, unfortunately not for the better. Similarly, Lily’s drive to champion clients she views as underdogs, which stems in part from experiences with her autistic brother, blinds her to the fact that some are dangerously manipulative liars who actually belong behind bars. But well-meaning as Lily is, readers will discover she isn’t above hiding some rather unsavory secrets of her own. As twisty as little Carla’s glossy curls, which inspire Ed’s best work, this swiftly moving psychological thriller offers surprises right up to the finish. Agent: Kate Horndern, Kate Horndern Literary Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Provocative. . . addictive. . . [A] seemingly unending trove of delicious disasters and deceits.” --Washington Post 

"Brilliant, original and complex, with a dark triangle at its center. A compelling thriller that kept me turning the pages until the end." --B.A. Paris, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors

"Lies fester and multiply, undermining intimate relationships in this psycholgical thriller. Corry's suspenseful debut novel is already a best-seller in the UK and is likely headed for similar success here." --Booklist (starred review)

"A devilishly devious U.S. debut. . . this swiftly moving psychological thriller offers surprises right up to the finish." --Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
A young lawyer with secrets of her own finds that her new husband is about as trustworthy as the murderer she's representing on appeal.Lily Macdonald, 25, thought her new life with Ed, a graphic designer with aspirations to paint full time, would be grand. She's a newly minted solicitor in London, two months into a new marriage, with a shiny new case: the appeal of Joe Thomas, convicted of murdering his girlfriend by shoving her in a scalding bath. Joe and Lily's initial conversations smack of cut-rate Hannibal and Clarice Starling scenes, with none of Thomas Harris' nuance of character. In fact, none of Corry's characters in her disappointing U.S. debut have much in the way of nuance; only a general sheen of unpleasantness that settles over every interaction, be it personal or professional. Besides Lily and Ed and their less-than-blissful marriage, Corry introduces their neighbors across the hall, Italian immigrant Francesca Cavoletti and her 9-year-old daughter, Carla, who catches Ed's eye as the perfect artistic subject. While Francesca spends time with a "special friend," Carla hangs out with the Macdonalds while Lily pursues Joe's appeal and wrestles with her childhood demons, which neatly connect to the case. A somewhat preposterous fast-forward finds the characters 12 years older but no wiser: Lily and Ed have a son with Asperger's; Carla is a knockout law student back from Italy; and Joe is still causing trouble from the sidelines. New romantic liaisons are formed, as are legal ones, none of which will surprise the careful reader. Unsavory, unrepentant characters interspersed in a plot that's as predictable as it is far-fetched make for an uninspiring read.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

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Read an Excerpt

As I enter the gallery, I see the back of Ed’s head.

“Lily!” He swivels round, saying my name as though it is fresh in his mouth. As if I am an acquaintance he hasn’t seen for a long time instead of the wife he kissed good-bye this morning. “Guess who walked into the gal­lery an hour ago?”

As he speaks, a petite woman with a sleek black bob slides out from behind the pillar. Her hairstyle, apart from the color, is almost identical to mine. But she’s young. Early twenties, at a guess. Big, wide, sunny smile with glossy bee-stung lips and a wide smooth forehead. She’s stunning without being conventionally beautiful. Her face is the sort that makes you stare. I twist my silver bracelet—the one I always wear—with inexplicable nervousness.

“Hello, Lily!” she sings. There’s an unexpected kiss on both my cheeks. Then she stands back. I feel cold slice through me like a carving knife. “You don’t remember me? It’s Carla.”

Carla? Little Carla who used to live in the same block of flats all those years ago, when Ed and I were first married? Carla, alias The Italian Girl? Is it really possible that this is the confident young woman who stands before me now with her immaculate complexion, her sharp, cat-like eyes accentu­ated with just the right touch of eyeliner is Carla?

It has taken me years to achieve a confidence like that.

But of course it’s Carla. She’s a mini-Francesca, minus the long curls.

“How have you been?” I manage to say. “How is your mother?” 
This beautiful colt-like creature dips her chin and then tilts her head to one side as if considering the question. “Mamma, she is very well, thank you. She is living in Italy. We have been there for some time.”

Ed breaks in. “Carla’s been trying to get hold of us. She wrote to us.”

I breathe steadily, just as I do in court when I need to be careful. “Really?” I say.

It’s not a lie. Just a question.

“Twice,” says Carla.

She is looking straight at me. Briefly I think back to that first letter with the Italian stamp, which was sent to our old address last year but forwarded to us by the current occupants.

My first instinct had been to throw it away like all the other begging let­ters we received around that time. People assume, rightly or wrongly, that if an artist has one big success, he or she is rich. The reality is that even with the portrait sale and Ed’s trust money and my salary, we are still not that well off. Our mortgages on both the gallery and the house are huge. And of course we also have Tom’s expensive therapy and his unknown future to think of.

I want to help people in need like any other decent person. But if you give to one, where do you stop? Yet Carla was different. She was right. In a way, we did owe our success to her.

I would talk to Ed, I decided. But a critic had just written yet another snide review, questioning why anyone would want to pay so much for a “brash acrylic work that was worthy of a Montmartre street artist.” My husband had been hurt. It was all I could do to assure Ed that this reviewer was wrong. Better to leave Carla’s letter, I decided, until things were calmer.

Then came the second one, sent to the gallery where Ed had been exhib­iting temporarily before it had been forwarded to our home. Luckily, I happened to bump into the postman on the way to work. Recognizing the handwriting and foreign stamp, I slipped it in my briefcase and opened it in the office. The tone was angrier this time. More demanding. I sensed Fran­cesca’s hand behind it. If we gave them some money, I thought, they might ask for more.

So I put it away, pretending to myself that I would deal with it at “some point.” And then I conveniently forgot about it. It wasn’t the right thing to do. I can see that now. But if I had written back to Carla explaining our financial situation, she might not have believed it.

“We were worried when you left so suddenly all those years ago,” Ed is saying now. “Why didn’t you tell us you were going?”

His question takes me back to the last time I saw Carla. That awful row between Tony, Francesca and me. On top of that, I was trying to work out if Ed and I should stay together.

“Yes,” I say, gritting my teeth, “we were very worried about you.” Then my eye falls on the painting behind her. It’s hard not to. There are paintings of Carla as a child all over the room.
“What do you think of your portraits?” I ask. Might as well play devil’s advocate, I tell myself. Try to draw Carla out. It would also make me look more innocent in the matter of those unanswered letters.

The young woman in front of me flushes. “They are lovely.” Then she flushes again. “I do not mean that I am lovely, you understand—”

“Oh, but you are,” breaks in Ed. “Such a beautiful child. We both thought so, didn’t we, Lily?”

I nod.

Meet the Author

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist and has spent time as the writer in residence of a high-security prison for men—an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her debut thriller. Corry runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals worldwide, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until recently, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University.