Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.
I recently read a book called The Wife Between Us. As I was reading The Last Mrs. Parrish, I could see the same “twist” coming from the very beginning. And I was already rolling my eyes as I listened.
The basic premise, and this is all spoilery, so don’t read this review if you’re going to read this book, is that we have Daphne Parrish. Socialite, pampered wife, seems to have it all by way of her adoring husband, Jackson Parrish. Enter Amber Patterson. She’s young and attractive, and as soon as she and Daphne meet, they’re instant BFF. They share the grief they both feel from losing sisters to cystic fibrosis, and that grief forms a strong, almost instant bond.
We get a sense from the beginning that something isn’t quite right with Amber. And as we hear more from her (the entire first half of the book is her POV) we realize that we’re right. She’s a total fraud, and possibly a sociopath. She’s decided she’s owed a better life than she has, in fact, she’s owed Daphne’s life, and she’s targeted Jackson. She’s going to make him fall in love with her and leave Daphne. There was never a sister with CF, everything she’s ever told anyone about herself is a complete lie. Why does she deserve this better life? Just because she does. It’s not fair that women like Daphne get to have it all when all they did was marry the right guy, when women like Amber get nothing and have to scrape and sacrifice just to get by.
Daphne, for her own part, is also living a lie. Jackson Parrish is a sadistic serial abuser. Everything was great until they were actually married, then he started physically, sexually, and emotionally abusing Daphne. And since he’s the one with the power and the money, and she has nothing of her own, there’s nothing he can do about it. He manages to get her committed to a psychiatric hospital for a few months the one time she tries to leave him, so she doesn’t try again. He’s obsessed with having a son, and when he and Daphne have two girls, he’s furious. She manages to secretly get an IUD implanted, so there aren’t any more children after that, but the damage has been done. He beats her, he rapes her, he degrades her, he controls her, he tears her down completely.
Then along comes Amber. Daphne is initially enraptured with her new best friend but eventually finds out who Amber actually is when another friend, who can see through Amber’s bullshit, does some investigating and finds out. Daphne initially appears to not do anything with the information. But she’s figured out that Amber is after Jackson, and Daphne finally sees a way out of her living nightmare. Much like the wife in The Wife Between Us, Daphne manipulates the situation so that Amber gets what she wants. Eventually, Jackson leaves Daphne for Amber, divorcing Daphne and finally setting her free. (I have to admit, I thought this was a little too easy. Yes, Amber was pregnant and pretending she’s already found out it’s the boy Jackson has always wanted, but I don’t know if I buy that he was willing to just let Daphne go without a fight after everything he did to control her over their marriage)
Here’s my overall problem with this book. And The Wife Between Us. This is set up as Daphne finally getting revenge on the husband who abused her and the woman who pretended to be her friend in order to steal her husband. Huzzah! She’s free and now she can take her kids and be happy! But this is predicated on the fact that because Amber is a genuinely awful person, she deserves to be beaten, raped, and mentally and emotionally abused every day for the rest of her life. I don’t care that Amber is a sociopath. I don’t care that she’s a bitch. No woman, no person, no human, deserves that no matter what he or she has done. And the fact that we’re supposed to cheer for Daphne setting this in motion, that we’re supposed to cheer for her setting Amber up to be in this situation, is repulsive to me. I would have liked this story a lot more if Daphne had figured out what Amber was up to and somehow convinced her they should work together to take Jackson down.