“The Next Wife” by Kaira Rouda is about anger; anger that protects and motivates; anger that pushes people to fight back; anger that drives people to pursue goals that were previously impossible. Characters pull readers into the drama through alternating first person present tense narratives, John, the husband; Ashlyn, the daughter; Kate, the first wife; and Tish, the next wife. Readers see the same events from different points of view, with different interpretations, and different perspectives. These people delight in talking, and they tell their stories so well that I will let them speak for themselves here.
They talk directly to readers: “Let me explain that to you.” “Can’t you imagine it?” “You can understand my anger with this situation now, I’m sure.” “We planned it this way.” “I don’t know why I added that, but I did.” “I take a deep breath and calm myself. Focus.” “I am such a fool. I threw everything I had away.” “I’m not naive. Not anymore.”
They grumble about everything: “I need answers.” “I fight the urge to say what I really think.” “I don’t appreciate her much at all anymore.” “She really needs to get over herself.” “It’s annoying, unprofessional.”
They evaluate and plan: “I’m going to get them.” “You lied. I trusted you, and you let me down again.” “There is so much I don’t understand.” “But I’m lying.” “I just may have a few more tricks up my little old sleeve.” “I can’t believe this is happening. There’s no more time to talk.”
I loved every spiteful, malicious, page of “The Next Wife.” Every single one of the group is irate, vindictive, conniving, and downright bitter. There is not a nice one in the bunch. The only thing they all agree on is that it is not easy being the next wife. They are people we love to hate.