Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins


My first encounter with Emily Perkins was her volume of short stories, “Not Her Real Name”, which I loved. So I read her first three novels, but for me they didn’t quite hit the same heights. Her fourth – “Novel About My Wife” – does.

I was hooked by the cover and the first line:

“If I could build her again using words, I would: starting at her long painted feet and working up, shading in every cell and gap and space for breath until her pulse couldn’t help but kick back into life.”

Thus the scene is set. Tom Stone is telling the story of his marriage and tells us in the first few pages that Ann, his wife will be dead by the end of the book.

Tom is a struggling writer and Ann is expecting their first child. They’ve just bought a house in a troubled neighbourhood. It’s in desperate need of renovation, but the couple’s finances are strained.

Something is not right in the house, and it seems to Ann there is an impending sense of doom about it. She also believes she is being stalked by a local homeless man.

Both of the couple have secrets too, and they come back to haunt them.

Tom tries to hold things together, but fails to think through the consequences of his actions and the consequences of his decisions are devastating.

The prose is lovely and the narrative voice is wonderful.

I read a library copy but I have bought the book subsequently. It is one to recall, turn over in my mind and read again to see what more might be revealed.

Dark, but dazzling.

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