Book Review: The Husbands by Chandler Baker

About the Book:

Welcome to the neighbourhood. We do things differently here.

Recently, Nora has started to feel that ‘having it all’ – a family, a soon-to-be new house, a successful career in law – comes with a price, one her husband doesn’t seem to be paying quite so heavily. She loves Hayden, but why is it that, however hard men work, their wives always seem to work that much harder?

Then her house-hunting takes them to an affluent suburban neighbourhood and Nora’s eyes are opened to a new world. One where women can have it all. One where the men actually pull their weight.

But a wrongful death case involving one of the local residents draws Nora further into this perfect world and she begins to realise that the secret of ‘having it all’ is far more complicated than she could ever have imagined. In fact, it may be worth killing for…

Smart, sharp and timely, The Husbands imagines a world where the burden of the ‘second shift’ is equally shared – and what it might take to get there. If you love the novels of Liane Moriarty, Celeste Ng and Sally Hepworth you will devour The Husbands.

Published by Hachette Australia
Released 30th June 2021

My Thoughts:

Darkly funny with a disturbing undercurrent, The Husbands is a classic tale of ‘be careful what you wish for’. Nora is juggling a career, motherhood, being a wife and running a household. Her husband helps out when he’s asked, but that’s part of the problem: he has to be asked. When their house hunting takes them into an exclusive neighbourhood, Nora is exposed to a different way of living, a way where the women work in their high-powered jobs while the husbands do everything domestic, along with having careers themselves. Too good to be true? Well, just press pause on that.

Nora’s situation will be all too common to many women. Personally, I found myself nodding along, been there, done that, nothing ever changed. But this is not a novel that runs husbands down needlessly. Nora is controlling, wants her husband to do more without having to be asked, yet consistently finds fault with the way he does things so in the end she just does it all herself. Sound familiar? Lucky you if it doesn’t. The author shows this push and pull in a realistic way. There were several examples though of where it was simply expected that Nora would deal with a crisis, and by deal with it, that meant leaving her own workplace for a family responsibility while her superiors at work shook their heads about the working mother who doesn’t take her job seriously. But we offer work life balance here, don’t you know?!!

So, Nora was really ripe for being manipulated by the women she meets in her prospective new neighbourhood. They quickly draw her in, wooing her so to speak, befriending her, hiring her as a lawyer, and even signing her husband and her up for in-house couple’s therapy. From the outside looking in, it’s all a bit…phoney. Plus, while Nora is all rose-tinted glasses about their husbands, I felt like they were walking robots all chanting the same refrain: ‘She works so hard, she deserves it’. Any sinister inklings you begin to develop as the novel progresses, don’t dismiss them. Some of my theories on what was going on didn’t pan out, but that’s only because they were replaced by something even more outlandish.

I really enjoyed this novel. I thought it was on point and blisteringly funny, albeit dark and fairly twisted. But it all balanced out. Inserted between the chapters are social media posts with a string of comments, all so realistic I wouldn’t be surprised to discover they were actual posts. I found these sections particularly funny but they also served a greater purpose overall to the narrative: it demonstrated a universally shared experience between women. Chandler Baker is a terrific writer, clever and creative, juggling several storylines with ease whilst offering character growth for the major players. Plus, this is just a truly original story, completely out there, and terrifically entertaining. You can’t beat that.

☕☕☕☕☕

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

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