The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Posted On 18 February 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : A Tardis of a Book!

The echoYes, this book, much like a Tardis (if such a thing existed) is an  absolute wonder.  Take roughly 250 pages and convert them into a fascinating and compelling, character driven story that is chillingly calculated, full of surprises and incredibly thought provoking.  I simply don’t know how Gailey, did it.  There aren’t enough pages here to fit in this amount of story the maths just doesn’t add up.  So, yes, think Tardis and prepare to be surprised because once you open the cover to this number, you’re in for a real treat and plenty to explore.

I will keep my summary of the plot to the minimum.  Evelyn is an ambitious woman, incredibly intelligent and successful in the scientific field of cloning.  Her marriage to Nathan has lost some of it’s sparkle, the long nights and constant work eventually taking their toll and Nathan has ‘sort of’ moved on.  By which I mean, he’s stolen his wife’s research to create himself the perfect wife.  And, it’s not like he doesn’t love Eveyln, he does, enough to make his new wife a perfect replica just without a few bits and pieces here and there that he found irritating – like her work taking precedence over him for example.  His new wife will not be confrontational, she will be the perfect homemaker and she won’t baulk at the idea of starting a family the way Evelyn did.  Things are going to be just swell.  Except maybe they won’t.  

Now, to be fair to other readers I’m not going to elaborate further on the plot because I really do think that would spoil the fun.  This is an easy read.  Quite simple in many respects.  A small cast of characters, a small world view because we pretty much stay within the confines of the the characters’ homes or workplace and some fairly thinly drawn science in a world set in a very close future to our own  And, when I say ‘thinly drawn science’ I sincerely mean this as the deepest compliment because I don’t want to be overwhelmed about discussions regarding the whys and wherefores, I just want enough to help me form a picture and move on.

So, in no particular order (because I’m going to let my mind ramble at will) the following elements are what really worked for me.

Firstly, I really enjoyed that the story is told by Evelyn.  I like the way she narrates and includes little pieces of childhood memories to help draw a clearer picture of who she really is.  To be fair, she’s probably not the most lovable person in some respects.  She’s very motivated and hasn’t taken the time over the years to foster other relationships.  Basically, she has few relatives and fewer friends  Nathan is the only person she has allowed in and so when the two split she has no one else to share her new found success with. But, and you will discover through the childhood memories that she shares, Evelyn has learnt to disguise her feelings, no crying, no apologising, no hysterics here.  Instead, she is calm and calculated and perfectly in control.

Martine is not just ‘the other woman’ she’s a perfect copy of Evelyn and she needs help.  You could be forgiven for thinking that Evelyn would be disinclined to help Martine in her hour of need, but, Evelyn’s research would be compromised if the sordid details of Nathan’s betrayal were discovered and so instead, Evelyn and Martine work together to find a solution.  Martine is a wonderful creation and one of the many levels of deceptiveness within the story.  She’s innocent, almost like a small child in terms of her naivety and experience.  Created to be a docile ‘yes’ version of the original wife she should have no real agency or control and yet she reacts to events in ways that are unexpected and in fact puzzling in that they simply shouldn’t be possible.  She raises a whole new world of questions and theories for Evelyn that warrant further investigation. 

I think the pacing is excellent and I loved the way the opening chapters led me completely in the wrong direction.  This is so much more than a book about failed relationships and extra marital affairs or divorce  It’s about identity, it takes a look at how far a person might go in the pursuit of perfection and whether this might lead them to behave horrendously.  It recognises that we are changing all the time, that we’re not the same person today that we were yesterday but at the same time it calls into question how much freedom of choice we really have, are we slowly becoming like our parents, their personalities becoming more obvious little by little.  Can we, with the implementation of science truly make changes to a person’s character or will their real nature eventually break free.  And, should we even be trying to make such advances?  Is cloning ethical – and will it all boil down to the pursuit of perfection?  

Basically, this book made me think so many things.  Was Evelyn innocent in all this?  Certainly reading about some of the practices that took place within the laboratory give me considerable pause for thought on that count.  Nathan – well, the true extent of his moral decline eventually becomes shockingly apparent but I couldn’t help thinking that they’d both made hard choices – admittedly for different reasons and also, certainly for Evelyn, in the name of science – but still, very tough calls that maybe should never have been made.  

Then there’s all the quirky little extras thrown in that you either pick up on or not – they don’t affect the story so much but I just like them even though I’m sure to have missed plenty along the way.  Like Evelyn the first wife and the prototype of Nathan’s machinations – named for Eve??  And, I can’t really give away more but even Nathan’s name plays into later twists in the most ironic way. 

I also loved the ending – and this might be me really reading too much into things but were Evelyn and Martine turning into strange versions of Evelyn’s parents?

In terms of criticisms.  To be honest, I don’t really have anything except that in terms of the science and the plot you have to suspend your disbelief, a little bit.  Don’t try to scrutinise things too minutely, just go with the flow and enjoy the intrigue.

Overall I found this a chilling tale.  It’s a very entertaining read on the one hand, and on the other, it’s a story with a message.  Once you set foot on the long and winding road of the morally dubious you may set into motion a series of events that become darker and darker with each successive step.  Long story short, be careful what you wish for because no matter how good the science may look, nature always finds a way.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

 

 

26 Responses to “The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    “””I loved the way the opening chapters led me completely in the wrong direction”””
    You could not have written a more enticing endorsement than this one 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I just really enjoyed this one. It’s a little bit crazy and you can’t drill down too much into the plot – you just have to go with it, but it’s twisted and thought provoking.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tessa

    This is one of those books I could kick myself for not requesting. I guess it’ll just have to go on my TBR. Wonderful review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thank you 😀 I hope you get a chance to pick it up – but I know what you mean about kicking yourself – I’m trying to be careful about the books I request so I frequently see glowing reviews for books that I’ve decided not to request – consequently my own wishlist and tbr are utterly ridiculous.
      Lynn 😀

  3. waytoofantasy

    Well I was already interested in this one but your review has me convinced to add it to my TBR. Sounds utterly intriguing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It worked really well for me. Hope you get a chance to pick it up.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Tammy

    Awesome review, Lynn. I loved this too, I honestly become giddy when Gailey has a new book coming out because I know its going to be different and unusual😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      It has made me want to check out some of her other books – do you recommend one in particular?

  5. Yvonne (@Fiction_Books)

    Hi Lynn,

    This probably isn’t one that would scream ‘buy me!’, if I saw it in the shelf in the shop.

    However, after reading your completely amazing and comprehensive review, I totally changed my mind and went scurrying off to Netgalley to see if it was still lurking on the available shelf.

    Alas, it has already been shelved, but it is definitely heading for my list and I am on the hunt for a copy.

    Thanks again for a brilliant insight into this story 🙂

    Yvonne Xx

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you get a chance to pick it up and more than that I hope you enjoy it if you do.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Fabulous! This is what I hope to pick up next, so your super high rating is getting me even more excited!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It really worked out well for me. I don’t think the plot itself stands up to a lot of scrutiny so as long as you can put that to one side it really is an entertaining read and quite thought provoking.
      Lynn 😀

  7. pagesandtea

    Great review Lynn. I must admit this doesn’t sound like the sort of book I’d usually pick up but your review certainly makes it sound tempting and I do like something different now and then 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, to be honest on this occasion I was more interested in reading this particular author, I think she comes up with a different style of book every time and so I wanted to pick something by her up. As it happens this was really good and it has made me want to take a look at her backlist.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Lexlingua

    This one looks to be crackling good. I liked Gailey’s Magic for Liars, but this is so very different in theme and tone. It has that whole Bluebeard vibe going on too

  9. Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey […]

  10. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    Ooh I bounced off of Gailey’s previous stuff, so I was kind of hesitant about picking this up, but you make it sound super interesting and thought-provoking. 😀 Will give it a try!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I haven’t read her other work so I don’t know how this compares – perhaps I got lucky picking this one up first.
      Lynn 😀

  11. bkfrgr

    Oh heck yes! This sounds amazing! Loved this review Lynn! 😃

  12. sjhigbee

    Fantastic review, Lynn:)). I’ve tried a couple of Gailey’s books before and not enjoyed them all that much, so I gave this one a miss. But the themes sound fascinating.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I loved it – my first one by her so I have no comparisons to her other works but I do recommend this.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Okay… I might give it a try if I have a chance to do so:).

  13. sjhigbee

    Actually – that’s not fair. I DID enjoy them, but I was a bit frustrated at the plot holes and odd inconsistencies…

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is fair tbh, you didn’t love them and that’s that.
      Lynn 😀

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