The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell Genre: Mystery, Family Drama Positives: + As ever, the narrative structure makes for a compelling mystery story. It just is not as good as the other books I‘ve read. Negatives: The story is about the husband, not the wife! I found Adrian frustrating rather than sympathetic. - He got off extremely lightly for his decades of selfishness. - I absolutely hated the ending. - Maya ends up forgotten as collateral damage.
2 Stars,  Mini Reviews

Mini Review | The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

⭐⭐ 2/5 Stars – Still a gripping mystery but unrelatable characters with missing perspectives, and I really, really hated the ending!

Format: Audiobook (via BorrowBox)

Read: September 2023

On the scale of Lisa Jewell novels I’ve read this has to be a two star. As is the case with her other books the structure of the mystery element to the story is so well done, and that makes it very gripping to read because you do want to know what happened to Maya and who Jane is.

But, I didn’t like where the story went and where it ended.

This one is another family drama rather than a crime based mystery. Like the The House We Grew Up In the focus is on one family and the damage that one parent has wrought on everyone around them. In this case the husband Adrian has left two previous wives, and children, and is now on his third wife who has just suddenly died in mysterious circumstances.

What I didn’t like

  • The family is very wealthy (enough to support two very expensive houses in London and Hove!) which adds an additional unrelatable element to a story where the relationships between the two families are already hard to believe. Adrian must be a millionaire to afford all this!
  • The story wasn’t really about Maya, or even the other wives and their children it is about Adrian. While there are POVs from the children and Maya it is told primarily from Adrian’s perspective who I found to be a frustrating and unsympathetic character.
  • Adrian is a charming but an immature and naively selfish man who cruises through life as the Main Character with little thought to how his actions really impact the people around him, because all the matters is that he can consider himself a “nice guy.”
  • I felt like in the end the novel lets him get away with his behaviour without really paying for it, and that his family and wives let him off extremely lightly. The story wanted to show that he did learn his lesson, and maybe he did, but I just felt there were not enough emotional consequences for Adrian. He did not deserve a happily ever after.
  • Maya was just there to be collateral damage, which ultimately didn’t matter. We never learned anything about her as a person who existed away from Adrian or anything about her background. The novel leaves her forgotten.
  • We never got the perspective of Caroline or Susie either! They remain barely sketched and don’t exist away from Adrian. I wanted to know how they really felt about the dual family situation.
  • I finish it feeling really unsatisfied and annoyed by the ending. I hated the ending so much, it absolutely did not feel deserved. Show Spoiler Hide Spoiler [*]

    Adrian deciding Caroline was “the love of his life” and giving a fairly half arsed apology and then her just apparently taking him back felt totally unearned and out the blue! It felt like a big disservice to what little we did know about Carolina as a character. She was better than that. If she was to take him back he should have had to work for it, agree to some therapy or something!

  • Like The House We Grew Up In I just didn’t really like this family much or feel invested in their fate. I never felt that it sounded believable that two previous wives would agree to let this man wreak so much havoc without consequences, which because we only hear from Adrian that is the story on the page.
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