Natalie Barelli | Unfaithful

unfaithful natalie barelli

The Book: 

Unfaithful by Natalie Barelli, 2020

The Characters: 

Anna Sanchez and her husband Lewis 
Her student Alex, who died
Coworkers June and Jeff

The Plot (from Goodreads):

When I arrive unannounced at my husband’s studio in need of a shoulder to cry on after hearing that my best student, Alex, has died, I see a pair of wineglasses drying by the sink and my deepest fear is confirmed: my husband is having an affair.

Most women would fall to their knees in tears and throw him out of the house—but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Instead, I go home and cook a healthy dinner for our children, walk the dog and unload the dishwasher without complaint. I will make him see that I’m still the woman he married; attractive, successful, the glue that holds our perfect family together. I need this marriage to work to protect a terrible secret of my own, something that would destroy everything I’ve already sacrificed so much for.

But when the police arrive at my door asking questions about Alex’s death that I can’t answer, and threatening text messages start appearing on my phone, I know that someone close has been watching me very carefully.

The truth is, there are three people in my marriage, but only one of them is deadly.

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

The Twist: 

Anna stole Alex’s PhD paper and passed it off as her own. 

Anna sees Lewis kissing his colleague Isabel and begins stalking her. She also reads his text to her. 

It is implied that Anna caused the death of Lewis’s previous girlfriend. She had a peanut allergy, and her epi pen “went missing” on a night she happened to eat a dessert with nuts. 

Jeff (Anna’s boss) set her up for the sexual harassment charge against her, and also was the one who vandalized her car. 

Lewis’s art creation, “the nest”, was created from pieces of their life. Monica’s epi-pen, Anna’s mom’s death certificate, jewelry he bought Isabel. Lewis killed Isabel to keep her from telling about the baby. He had taken Monica’s epi-pen and killed Anna’s mother. “The Nest” was to hide the evidence of all their things. 

The Ending:

Anna receives a package from Alex’s old roommate…filled with her old notebooks from when her mother forced her to try to solve the mathematical formula that Alex was working on. It turns out she had solved it but forgotten (and her mother told her she was incorrect) and Alex had found the notebooks at a yard sale and passed the work off as his own. She is able to send her own notebooks to the foundation as proof that she solved it.

The Review: 

I was pleasantly surprised by this dark, twisty psychological drama. I thought I could see the ending coming, but I was definitely wrong. Everyone in this book has secrets, and the story flew by as the reader uncovers them one by one. 

I didn’t like Anna, but I’m not sure I was supposed to. She made constant terrible decisions, even ones having nothing to do with her husband’s affair. Many of her actions made me ask, “Really??” and many of her predicaments could have been easily avoided. It was entertaining to watch her dig a bigger and bigger hole for herself, though. She certainly was an unreliable narrator, even doubting herself at times. 

Overall Unfaithful was a very enjoyable, quick read. Fans of Natalie Barelli will not be disappointed. 

Unfaithful will be available on November 24, 2020. Many thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me with a free ALC in exchange for an honest review.

unfaithful natalie barelli
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