I have a theory. It’s not necessarily original, but I have a theory.
I think this wave of “domestic thriller” or “marriage thriller” novels is filling the cultural lacuna left by the disappearance of mid-budget thriller films.
What once was Sleeping with the Enemy and Basic Instinct and Enough and all the rest is now filled with these novels of married couples who seem to really hate each other.
Full discloure: I’m a singleton. Loud and proud. So when reading novels like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train or When I Was You, I have a hard time relating or understanding folx motives from a personal point of view. I understand it narratively, because at this point these novels are predictable (but in the best way).
And When I Was You is about another couple that seems perfect on the outside, and the wife even thinks they’re perfect because she hasn’t thought too hard about the one relationship in her life that seems uncomplicated. But there’s always something. There’s always a misteress or a love child or a secret business or any number of things, and the wife discovers it.
BUT… there’s also a reason that the wife is unreliable or less than perfect. Those reasons are: being unable to have children, but not expressing that to the reader; alcoholism; previous inpatient treatment for serious mental illness; a very problematic childhood with disfuntctional parents; a dead child; a bad relationship in the past; secret domestic violence; etc. (I’m excited to add to this list, so please list what I’ve surely missed below.)
Kelly Medina receives a call from a pediatrician confirming a well-baby appointment, when her own child was born almost 20 years ago. She becomes obsessed with finding this other Kelly Medina, and they form a friendship that unsettles many of the people in the elder Kelly’s life.
This book has everything. There is intrigue, there’s a husband with opaque motives, there’s a friend who knows everything but is only believed too late… Twists and turns. Would recommend for anyone who’s a fan of the genre. If not… best to keep moving.