With Nathan on the final stretch of studying for Step 1, I’ve had my nose buried in a book too – albeit one that’s a little more fun that medical textbooks 😉 I just finished The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon and I really enjoyed it!
This book is based on a true unsolved mystery, but the events surrounding it are fictional. The setting is New York City in the 1930s, the era of gangsters and showgirls and political scandal. The time period seeps off every page, from the way characters talk to the situations they find themselves in. (Not to mention the gender roles and discrimination – it was so interesting to read how women had to get by back then!) It was so fun getting lost in another world each time I opened up this book, and Lawhon did a great job of bringing that time period to life.
As you can probably guess, the story is told from the viewpoint of three women who all have one thing in common: a man. Judge Joseph Crater’s disappearance in August of 1930 ignites controversy and questions across the city. The three women who knew Crater best – his wife (Stella), his maid (Maria), and his mistress (Ritzi) – all have their own stories to tell, which happen to intertwine in the most interesting and unexpected ways.
While the actual case goes unresolved, in this book, the reader gets answers at the end, making it a satisfying read. Lawhon planted just enough seeds along the way to keep me guessing and engrossed without totally giving it away. Parts of the story are Gatsby-esque, though there is a very real darkness that accompanies the brutal nature of gangs, greed and power. Overall, I think this is a good book that keeps your attention with just the right dose of intensity.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Stats: 320 pages
Recommended for: Those interested in unsolved mysteries or the 1930s era. If you have a weekend with nothing to do, this book is the perfect page-turner to keep you busy!
Up Next: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson