I am cheating ever so slightly with the book for X in the A to Z Challenge by choosing Exhibit Alexandra which came out in paperback last month retitled His Perfect Wife.
Alexandra Southwood has vanished. Her husband, Marc, is beside himself. It isn’t long before the police are searching for a body.
But Alexandra is alive – trapped, far away from her husband and young daughters.
Desperate, Marc will stop at nothing to find the woman he loves. Even if it means discovering that he never really knew her at all.
Because Alexandra is no ordinary missing person – but then neither is she quite a perfect wife . . .
If you’re looking for a thriller with a difference, one that raises so many questions, making it ripe for discussion, then it’s worth taking a punt on His Perfect Wife.
I really admire Natasha Bell for approaching the story in the way she does. It’s not easy to maintain the mystery, especially when the missing woman is our narrator. Thankfully, we know early on that this is not one of those stories narrated by a dead woman. Alexandra is very much alive. But while she has access to some information, such as the recording of her husband reporting her missing, she can’t know how everything plays out at home.
Instead, Alexandra gives us her re-imagining of what happens and how people behave because she believes that she knows her family and friends well enough to do this. I found it fascinating that she would think this, and arrogant of her. I mean, even when you know someone intimately, can you ever predict their reaction or behaviour in response to a shocking event like this? I’m not convinced you can.
That said, it becomes all too easy to take Alexandra’s version of events as what might have happened while she’s missing. She makes it sound credible. Not that she isn’t challenged by her captor, she is; he does call her on some of her interpretations. But I have to confess to being distracted by trying to work out where she was and who was holding her. Which when revealed, only further jolted my perspective.
His Perfect Wife is a novel all about perspective, whether it be the moral stance we take or when considering identity. Alexandra’s disappearance and the police questioning force Marc to look more closely at his marriage. By sharing flashbacks to when they met and earlier stages in their relationship, Alexandra gives us what looks to be a more rounded view of their marriage. We see what she gave up to be with him and how different her life in York is from that earlier, freer and more creative life in the States. Read more