Andrea reviews The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin, Grand Central Publishing, 310 pages. Although this is not Ms. Laurin’s first novel, this is the first one of her books I have read. Looking for a light, fluffy read to devour during this most humid summer was not what I found. Even though my copy of The Starter Wife is a paperback, it is not a delicate read but more of a psychological thriller.
Readers are introduced to Claire, a stay at home wife in her middle-20’s who relies on her husband’s first wife’s income to allow her to be at home to work on her “Great American Novel.” Yes, you read that correctly. Bryon’s first wife, Colleen, was a famous artist who committed suicide, and he was the sole beneficiary. Continuing to work as a Language Arts professor that provided steady income, it “just made sense” for his new, younger bride to work at home. Claire is unsettled by the arrangement especially since it’s Colleen that is posthumously supporting them. Missing her independence, Claire is passive- aggressive enough to squander their money on things like “cheap pink tanktops that Bryon would despise and (Claire) would never wear.”
After a while, rejection letters wear on her nerves, and her writing is falling flat. Getting restless and bored, Claire starts snooping online to find out more and more about Colleen. Was it suicide? Was it foul play? Was Bryon involved? If he did kill Colleen, why was her body never recovered but most importantly, why is he walking free?
Sometimes the ones who you love the most can turn out to be the ones you trust the least.