Mrs March by Virginia Feito – Book review

What an absolutely addictive read! Deeply dark, deadpan and twisty, let yourself get caught up in Mrs March’s mind and enjoy the ride.

Opening sentence: George March had written another book.

So who is Mrs March?

Well, she’s an affluent New Yorker who is very concerned about what others think of her and always keeps up appearances at all times – no matter what is happening. She lives in a swish Upper East Side apartment with her young son Jonathan and her husband George, an author whose new book is a huge success.

Many people think that the lead character of George’s book – Johanna – is inspired by Mrs March, this would be wonderful except Johanna is described as essentially an unlikeable prostitute. Mrs March feels humiliated, although her husband never quite admits she was his inspiration, she now doubts him and his possible motives.

And the whole world would know or, worse still, would assume. They would see inside her, wickedest of all violations.

We follow Mrs March as she goes about her day-to-day business; keeping out of her housekeeper Martha’s way, buying bread, trying to ascertain if her husband is a murderer, you know, the normal things.

We get deep into Mrs March’s brain in a very close character study and the tone and clever writing mean often you are not sure if the things she is experiencing are real or not. From her imaginary childhood friends, to her certainty that her husband is up to no good, you have to keep turning those pages to find out where Mrs March’s thoughts are going to jump to next.

She stared at George, then at Jonathan. Neither of them acknowledged her. She wondered for a fleeting instant whether she was even there at all.

Perfectly ambiguous

I assume this story is set in the modern day but there is never a reference to say, a mobile phone or Google or things that would definitely place it in the now. The way Mrs March is ALWAYS referred to as such (we only learn her first name at the end) and the lives of the rich New York elite could be now, or could easily be, for example, the 1970s. This ambiguity certainly works to enhance the general sense of paranoia and unease that consumes Mrs March.

Deliciously dark, deadpan – some lines had me laughing out loud – while also taking a look at the dangers of isolation and the power of delusions and vivid imaginations. It definitely had echoes of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and a wonderful Gothic twist at the end too. A brilliant read!

(On a very random side note, in the book Mrs March is reading Rebecca and I’ve just finished another book – The Reading List – that also features the Du Maurier classic. I feel my book choices are definitely telling me it’s time for a re-read…)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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