It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
Expected Publication Date: May 16, 2017, by St. Martin’s Press
I had some mixed feelings about It’s Always the Husband. I thoroughly enjoyed the great writing, the well-developed plot and characters, the fast pace of the story, and the suspenseful twists and turns. All of that was quite impressive since this was Campbell’s first novel, and I look forward to her next work since I think her writing will continue to develop and improve.
Yet, I just could not like the characters in the book—not any of them! If it weren’t for my dislike for the characters, I would give the book a 5-star rating; instead, I had to give it 4-stars. I can’t think of a book that I have read lately where I felt so disconnected with the characters, especially Kate!
It was so frustrating to me how everyone seemed to adore Kate! Kate was just a spoiled narcissist who appeared to care about no one. I found nothing endearing about her and honestly when something happened to her later in the book, I felt so blasé about it to the point of not caring except wanting to know who was responsible. It’s sad to feel that apathetic towards a character, and I feel almost guilty. Almost.
But Kate is not the main player in the story; it centers around Kate, Jenny, and Aubrey who became friends (frenemies??) while roommates during their freshman year at Carlisle College. The three girls are completely different in their backgrounds and personalities, but Jenny and Aubrey are really not any more likable than Kate although I didn’t find them quite as terrible. There was just no connection to be made with any of them since they were all greedy, self-involved, weak liars. But, Campbell proves here that having unlikeable characters doesn’t make for a bad book, especially when the plot is this intriguing and the writing this good.
The story is written in two parts, which I think was brilliant in the way it allowed the story to unfold and the plot to develop. The first part is told in the past when the girls are in college, so the reader not only sees how their friendships develop but how the girls witness a terrible death that binds them to secrecy over the course of their lives. It’s a twisted friendship, but a friendship nevertheless.
The second part of the book jumps forward twenty-two years later, and it is the best part of the story as the pace quickens, and the story becomes more intense. In the present, the women are all living in the same town, Belle River. Kate is trapped in a marriage of convenience to a man deeply in love with her, Jenny is now the town mayor, and Aubrey is a successful business owner. Tragedy then strikes Kate, and it’s as if the friend’s past secrets have come to haunt them. If so, why?
This story of friendship, betrayal, loyalty, corruption, infidelity, and murder makes this novel one that will keep you reading right up to the end! Honestly, once I hit the second half of the book, I finished it in about two hours!
Despite any of the book’s flaws, it was just that good! And while the ending wasn’t entirely unexpected, it did leave me spellbound and a little shocked!
I highly recommend this book. From the first to the last page, it was engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat! I look forward to Campbell’s future books!
I want to thank NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Michele Campbell for providing an advanced copy of It’s Always the Husband for me to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.