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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

A Good Marriage, Kimberly McCreight: A Review

After a brief hiatus into other genres, it felt good jumping back into the world of thrillers; there's nothing like a good legal drama, and A Good Marriage is full of drama.

Following her husband's drunk driving incident that costs her her job, Lizzie accepts a new position at a law firm and is surprised to receive a call from Rikers from an old law-school friend. Zach is being held on suspicion of murder, his wife found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. The situation screams scandal and secrets, and the deeper Lizzie digs into their history and alibis, the more complex the web of lies surrounding this couple (and their friends) becomes. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. The pacing was fast-paced and well-executed. Never a dull moment, McCreight creates a believable world of an elite society where bored housewives run charities, partake in affairs, cover for their husbands' indiscretions, and send their kids to ridiculously expensive summer camps. Lizzie's character has an interesting voice, confident in her legal conviction and prowess, yet conflicted about her relationship with her husband. I love how she approaches her emotions about his alcoholism, a tug-of-war between loving him, wanting him, yet being disappointed in his lack of control, helpless to fix him, and angry at his mistakes. Of all the characters, she was my favorite, and I looked forward to her sections the most. And while parts of the conclusion felt a little lackluster, I wasn't disappointed in their unfolding. Amanda was also an interesting voice, although I found her to be a little more flat than I cared for. The stalker subplot was a wonderful twist, and I loved how McCreight chose to have that story unfold (one that, essentially, is not new but is done well and with great command of building plot). I will say one of the things that I struggled with in terms of characterization is how easily everyone seems to become wealthy. Despite multiple descriptions of being raised poor, not even two nickles to rub together, these characters are able to not only afford Ivy league educations, but propel themselves on career paths toward billionaire status. Indeed, if a character didn't marry rich, they were able to get a full scholarship just by "studying hard." This little quirk just stuck with me. These characters have to work 40+ hours a week, support themselves (and family members) at a young age, while dealing with some pretty traumatic emotional issues, and I had a hard time believing that they were all given free rides to elite schools. I know in the long run, it's really peanuts to the plot, but it was a pretty solid gap for me that lumped the characters into this weird rags-to-riches arc I didn't particularly care for. Overall, though, A Good Marriage is a story about the dark side of marriage and how relationships aren't always what they seem. Intriguing and twisty and engrossing, a perfect get-lost-in read for this summer pandemic. I highly recommend to anyone who loves legal thrillers, nuanced strong female protagonists, or book club fiction.


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