Sam and Merry, along with their small son Conner, leave New York and settle down in the quaint countryside of Sweden. Sam works as beginning film director that requires him to go into the city each day while Merry stays home and takes care of their son, tends the garden, cooks gourmet meals, and bakes pies. It is such a perfect picture, it is almost too perfect. It’s the 50’s all over again. The man goes to work to make the money and the little woman stays home and does all the child-rearing and house-keeping and LIKES IT. But Merry isn’t following the rules. We learn through Merry’s POV that she’s not entirely sold on this whole thing, but something drove them from New York to seek this perceived domestic utopia. She is supposed to play along and fake it until she’s convinced.
Then along comes Frank, Merry’s childhood friend for an extended visit. This lady is a piece of work. She has known Merry for a long time and almost has to hold back laughter at seeing Merry as a Stepford clone. Slowly, the flawless family picture begins to fall apart. The longer Frank sticks around, the more their lives become entangled and toxic. Jealousy and lies erode the pretty surface and slowly reveal some very dark and troubling motives. Some scenes may be too disturbing to read, especially the vivid descriptions when Merry is alone with Connor while Frank is lurking around.
Little by little, some very dark motives emerge and there are some twists that will have you turning back to make sure you read the words correctly the first time. That’s one of the ways I love this writing style. It’s not overly word-y. Actions sneak up on you without a lot of verbal foreplay. Before you refresh your drink, you find out just how deviant all three characters can be with each other and it’s troubling to read.
When tragedy strikes, who will survive the fallout? When the pieces fall back down, will we recognize them anyway?
I’m still thinking back on this book weeks later which means it’s a great book. Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the copy for my honest opinion.