Vanessa meets Richard on a flight back to New York City after visiting her mother in Florida. After he gives up his first class seat to a serviceman on the plane, he ends up sitting next to Vanessa. She doesn’t like flying and Richard is kind, talks to her and calms her down. A few days later her asks her out. Vanessa is struggling to make it on her salary as a preschool teacher and lives with her best friend, Samantha, in a cramped apartment in New York City. Although she loves her job and her friends she can’t believe her good fortune in meeting Richard. He is handsome, a successful hedge fund manager and loves to lavish her with expensive gifts. He decides to call her Nellie because she was such a Nervous Nellie on the plane. Soon they are engaged and Richard is buying them an expensive home in Westchester. Vanessa loves living in New York City and isn’t too sure about the house but she loves Richard and he is so happy and excited about getting the house for her that she goes along with it. She will still be able to see her friends and keep her job, right? Things are too perfect to be believed. They certainly are!
We soon find out that things did not go well in their marriage and Vanessa/Nellie is now divorced from Richard, living with her aunt and working at Saks selling clothing to women she used to socialize with when she was married to Richard. To make matters worse, Richard is now engaged to Emma, a carbon copy of Vanessa, but younger. Vanessa has lost everything and she will stop at nothing to prevent Richard from marrying Emma.
The story is told in first and third person and alternates between time periods. Vanessa is an unreliable narrator who drinks too much but as the story continues we begin to see that there is more going on than we thought. Richard is a neat freak and is his solicitous manner with Vanessa because he loves her or is he controlling her? Is there something strange about his close relationship with his sister, Maureen? Is Vanessa really becoming mentally ill like her mother and what happened to her dog, Duke?
This novel of suspense has multiple points of view and can be confusing if the reader doesn’t pay attention. There are several twists and the ending did surprise me. I listened to it on audio and Julia Whelan was outstanding, as always, reading this book. Although it has had mixed reviews, I enjoyed it. If you like suspenseful novels with twists, an unreliable narrator and a surprise ending you should like The Wife Between Us.