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

 

 

Wondrous Words and Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Past is Red by Catherynne M Valente

Every Wednesday I take part in Can’t Wait Wednesday, I’m also hoping to take part in a new meme being hosted by Elza Reads called Wondrous Words Wednesday.  I’ll be combining these into the same posts as they’re both short and sweet.

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente:

ThePast

Catherynne M. Valente, the bestselling and award-winning creator of Space Opera and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland returns with The Past is Red, the enchanting, dark, funny, angry story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world.

The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown.

Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.

But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

Expected Publication July 2021

WWW

This meme was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion Blog and has now been adopted by Elza Reads.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.

No rules just enjoy and for further info check out Elza Reads.

My word this week is :

Lividity

noun

  • a discolored, bluish appearance caused by a bruise, pooling of blood due to congestion of blood vessels, strangulation, etc.:When the dead person is lying on their back, lividity will form on the buttocks, back, or backs of the legs.
  • a grayish or ashen appearance of the face; pallor:The traditional ghost image usually involves a certain paleness of the face—a corpselike lividity.
  • furious anger:When the generator they’d ordered arrived late and then failed to work, her lividity knew no bounds.
  • a reddish appearance of the face, as from strong emotion or embarrassment:I was on the shore with my parents, watching the sky flush scarlet with a hue like lividity rising to an angry face.

This is from my most recent read and the meaning used in this instance is the first given meaning above.  I tend to think of this word more in terms of anger for some reason – the word Livid:

Livid (adj.)

Early 15c., “of a bluish-leaden color,” from Old French livide (13c.) and directly from Latin lividus “of a bluish color, black-and-blue,” figuratively “envious, spiteful, malicious,” from livere “be bluish,” earlier *slivere, from PIE *sliwo-, suffixed form of root *sleiə- “bluish” (source also of Old Church Slavonic and Russian sliva “plum;” Lithuanian slyvas “plum;” Old Irish li, Welsh lliw “color, splendor,” Old English sla “sloe”).

As mentioned above I picked this up from my most recent read which is a book which completely hooked me with it’s strange cold horror like feel :

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey (my review to follow shortly):

The echo

That’s it for this week.  If you’re taking part in both of these or either please don’t forget to link up.