Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, by Ariel Lawhon
Series? No
Publisher: Doubleday
Date: Jan 28, 2014
How did I get this book? free Advance Reader's Copy from the publisher via Shelf Awareness for my honest review
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
GoodReads | Author | Publisher

This book is a fictionalized version of a real-life unsolved mystery -- the disappearance of New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater in 1930. As the author explains in her notes, her inspiration came from the idea that someone knew what really happened, even if the truth has never seen the light of day. How the story plays out in the novel is pure speculation, but it's rooted in the known facts of the case.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started this one, but it really did grab me right from the first page. The voices of Stella (the wife), Maria (the maid), and Ritzi (the mistress) are very distinct, so I had no trouble following the story as it bounced between their different perspectives and also back and forth in time as more information is revealed about the events surrounding the disappearance. Each of the women is fully fleshed out and their individual stories are also an interesting look at the role of women and the obstacles and challenges many faced in that time period. Lawhon manages to bring an era to life, including both the glitz & glamour and the seedy underbelly.

While I was previously completely unaware of this particular event in history, apparently there are many who have followed the case and there has been much published about it over the years. Having recently discussed how accurate historical fiction is (or should be) over on Charleen's blog Cheap Thrills, I found it incredibly helpful that Lawhon wrote a detailed Author's Note at the back of the book in which she distinguishes between what is historically accurate and what is the product of creative license -- brilliant!

Explore more:
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Reader's Guide/Discussion Questions

Reading Challenges:
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My Kind of Mystery
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  1. I love watching the history channel's unsolved cases and think they did one on this case..so this really has me curious. I am glad you enjoyed it and I am adding to my list.

    1. Oooh that sounds interesting! I hope you like it Kimba :)

  2. I think I own a copy of this one, it looked really good and I like how it is told from different perspective. Also cool that the author let you know which one was fact and what was creative writing.

    1. It was definitely helpful! I hope you get a chance to read it :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I LOVED this book. It was my featured choice for last month.

    I wasn't aware of this event either, but it made the book more interesting since I love historical fiction.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved March Edition. I am in the list as #20. My book entry is below.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry

    1. I love when I learn something from historical fiction -- even if the story isn't complete fact, it's so interesting to "experience" a different time period. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I love when authors of historical fiction let you know how fictionalized their account is! Otherwise, it's impossible to learn about history from fiction because you don't know what actually happened. I wanted to get to this for SheReads in February and didn't, but I'm still very excited to read it sometime. It sounds so well done!

    1. I completely agree! I know some people never assume anything in historical fiction is true, but I think there should always be something to learn from these kinds of books. Making clear what's real and what's not really helps :)


I'd love to hear what you think :)