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The Cursed Wife Paperback – March 8, 2018
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Mary was born into a loving family. Then suddenly at the age of six, that is all taken away when her parents and all of her siblings die suddenly of an illness. One day she simply wakes up when her fever breaks and has no family left.
Because her father has gambled away all of his money, and the money her mother brought to the marriage, there’s nothing left to pay the rent. She is then shipped off to her mother’s relative, to be a companion to her cousin.
On her way to her new life, a young girl tries to climb up on her cart and steal her doll. Trying to defend herself she pushes the girl off at the same moment that the cart driver starts driving forward again.
The girl is caught underneath the wheels and killed. In her grief, her mother curses Mary for murdering her daughter. Mary carries this curse through her life, always feeling the pain and horror of what she has done.
Catherine, known as “Cat“, Is the daughter of Sir Hugh Latimer. Mary is to be her companion, and Catherine tells her that companions are friends. She immediately confirms that she will be Mary’s friend too.
Throughout the book, their lives are detailed back-and-forth. One chapter of Mary than one chapter of Cat. Slowly we see how a bright future turns when circumstances, jealousy, and selfishness take hold.
Keeps You Guessing
The progression of their lives from childhood through to adulthood was fascinating. The way their relationship changes so subtly over time made a very interesting read.
This book is a psychological thriller of the best kind. You don’t know who’s dead, you don’t know who did it. Right up until the last minute you have suspicions but they will be wrong. You will have no idea what really happens.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was surprised by the ending. I will definitely be looking out for more from Pamela Hartshorne.
Reviewed for LnkToMi iRead in response to a complimentary copy of the book provided by the publisher in hopes of an honest review.
At times, I was engaged in the lives of Cat and Mary, two very different women living in Elizabethan England. But, more often than not, I found the pacing choppy, the writing repetitive (due to Mary and Cat retelling their sides of the same story) and Mary was frustratingly naïve. The reader knows what's going on but much of the book is spent waiting for Mary to finally catch on to what is obviously happening in her own home.
Mary and Cat had a dysfunctional, ruthless, obsessive rivalry. Neither are overly likable at any point in time but at least Cat added some nastiness while Mary just obsessed over her creepy wooden doll and fed into her self-fulfilling prophecy regarding the curse.
I think this book would have been better as a novella. In a shorter format, I think it could have packed more of a punch. Instead, it's a gloomy look at an obsessive and destructive relationship that wasn't suspenseful enough, lacked a strong ending and, unfortunately, won't be a book that stays with me long.
Disclaimer: This Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
As well as the detail on the mores of the time, there’s also happily what Pamela does so well – evocative descriptions of cobbled streets, market squares, and the gaps between rich and poor. Oh and there’s the food! So much variety and a great way of learning about the habits and traditions then.
As with any story of a curse, there’s a definite level of creepiness in the story and this is deftly threaded throughout the story. Mary is a character to watch and I felt I’d been on the entire journey with her – dizzying thoughts of what might happen to her and everything!
Oh and I won’t forget Peg in a hurry. In fact this novel is going to linger for me. It’s a new direction for the author but one I hope she repeats!
The writing is immersive and eerie. The characters are tormented, hardened, and resourceful. And the plot, using a back-and-forth style is evocative, taut, and twisty from the very first page until the spine-chilling ending you won't see coming.
The Cursed Wife is an intriguingly dark and sinister novel that sweeps you back in time and transports you from the opulent manor houses found in the English countryside to the dingy, dangerous London docks in an engrossing tale rife with desperation, survival, manipulation, abuse, deviance, violence, class disparity, and murder.