Book Review / Reviews with Spoilers / Sally Hepworth

Sally Hepworth | The Younger Wife

The Book:

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
Published: October 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

Torrie’s Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Plot (Goodreads):

A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?

How did The Younger Wife end?

Click here for book spoilers for The Younger Wife
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Younger Wife, I suggest you turn back now.

It is important to first share that this book has 2 different endings – it appears that the ARC had a more vague ending, whereas the version I read is more concrete in explaining what happened.

Throughout the book, all the women doubt themselves, they aren’t sure if Stephen (their father/fiancé) is abusive and a liar. At the end of the book, it is made clear that he was abusive with all 3 of his wives. Stephen was skilled at lying and gaslighting, so he convinced his 2nd (Pam) and 3rd (Heather) wives as well as his daughters that it was all in their heads.

At the wedding, which is how the book opens, Rachel, Tully, and Heather watch Stephen grab Pam in a chokehold when she dangerously swings around a candle stick, they all realize that this hold is not a loving embrace and immediately believe he is an abuser. Rachel hits Stephen over the head with the candle stick, and he later dies at the hospital.

Predictable, Rachel’s abstinence from dating for most of her adult life is due to a sexual assault when she was 16.

The biggest reveal, and it is almost humorous, is the hot water bottle! The epilogue shows Pam retrieving the hot water bottle from her dying mother’s home and her mother sharing that it was from her pension, she was technically committing pension fraud. This is never saw coming, I figured that this was exactly what it seemed, a battered woman saving up to leave her abusive husband, though I was hoping there was a small twist – maybe she played the lottery often and that’s how she amassed so much. This “twist” was my favorite part of the book.

My understanding is that the original version of the ending was less clear that Stephen was definitely abusive, it left it to the reader to determine. It seems like early reviews found this to make the women seem hysterical and was somewhat sexist, so the ending was clarified/changed to reflect a clearly abusive Stephen.

Torrie’s Review:

I’m giving this book 3.5 stars because I flew through it, and really enjoyed reading it, but at the end of the day, there was only one small twist. The major plot point was predictable and disappointing. I enjoyed the path that Sally Hepworth took the reader down, but ultimately, it didn’t pay off. This was a family drama not a mystery.

Rachel’s reason for not dating was very predictable, and I felt like it was built up like we’d learn more about it and it might lead to a surprising character, but ultimately it was a character moment, and not a twist in the story. I enjoyed her storyline, but felt it left something to be desired.

I was also disappointed with the portrayal of Tully and Sonny’s relationship. I appreciated the way that their challenges were shown, and that Sonny’s fatherly ways and support were shown, but he never took responsibility for losing their savings! This isn’t a spoiler because we learn this issue early on, and it is clear that is a shared burden between him and Tully, even with Tully taking on more of the burden in changing her lifestyle after Sonny’s mistake. Sonny clearly made a bad business deal, and he should have spent a lot of time making that up to Tully, instead the book spends much more time on Tully’s mistakes.

Meet Guest Reviewer by Torrie Lewine

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