Here’s something you should know, but more importantly do. Put best-selling author, Jean Hanff Korelitz’s new novel, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN on the top of your to-be-read list. Currently there’s a growing trend of what’s being called chick noir or marriage thrillers. These stories of committed couples dark sides are led by novels like ASA’s, THE SILENT WIFE and the huge best-seller GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN has us biting our nails up and down New York’s posh affluent Upper Eastside.
Manhattan therapist, Grace Reinhart Sachs lives what appears to be a perfect life with a rich pediatric oncologist husband, Jonathan and bright young son, Henry. She’s authored a book about to be published which tells women they only have themselves to blame if their relationships turn to crap, and it’s predicted to fly off bookstore shelves. But first she has to pause and take a look at her own life. How does it fare under the spotlight? Is her husband everything he’s cracked up to be? Is her marriage the fairytale she likes to portray?
The mother of a student at the exclusive private school her son, Henry attends is violently murdered. The crime is unsettling, but equally the failure of her husband to return from a medical conference somewhere in the Midwest. Worried sick and floored when cops come around asking Grace questions insisting she has knowledge about both mysteries, over the course of the novel, Grace Sachs undergoes a huge transformation – evolving from an arrogant defensive professional to an anguished humbled mother.
Once the scandal hits the media, she finds herself friendless, and realizes many of her relationships with immediate family members are surface. It’s during this period of desperation she discovers how many of her relationships are based on fabrications. She becomes isolated in a world of one-dimensional excessively rich characters as she circumvents the shark infested Manhattan waters, which she eventually flees with her son to Connecticut.
It’s curious to me that Grace never hires legal counsel, considering her financial status and social standing, nor does her extremely wealthy father offer that suggestion.
I really enjoyed Korelitz’s clear, pithy focused writing. Her plotting is worth studying for mystery/thriller writers. FYI: Her last novel was the best-seller, ADMISSION, which was about private Manhattan schools. I think she and her editor should have left some of their research from ADMISSION out of YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. It was interesting, but it felt like there was about 40-extra pages of private school information that would have made YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN leaner and read smoother.
It’s exciting to know that like the rights to the movie version of ADMISSION, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN have also been secured and our favorite Miss Tina Fey will star! Can’t wait for that!