George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. No one could be prouder than Mrs March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.
A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of olive bread. On her latest trip she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: the shopkeeper assumes the protagonist in George March’s new book – a pathetic prostitute, a figure of derision rather than desire – is based on Mrs March.
One casual remark shifts the world around Mrs March, shaking her belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – and sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover the long-buried secrets of Mrs March’s past – and a killer.
Thank you to Lindsay at 4th Estate Books for sending me a proof copy of Dear Mrs March. An intricate character study of our protagonist as she spirals off kilter in her tightly orchestrated life following a casual remark at the bakers.
I was struck by how empty Mrs March’s life was and equally this can be applied to Mrs March herself. Married and living with George, who she met when she was a student and he a highly eligible and handsome University Professor, now a successful author Mrs March’s entire identity orbits around him and she thrives on his success, reflected on her.
Told in the third person narrative the story follows Mrs March as she descends into alarming paranoia, convinced the book is a slight to her and others are mocking her. She doesn’t read the book herself but overtime succumbs to delusions and extreme feelings of hatred toward her husband primarily. Always preoccupied, a lot is alluded to in this book as Mrs March is distracted and unfocused. The story is told entirely from her view point so we only see the actions and words of others as she perceives them, leaving gaps for the reader to fill. That said her unravelling now is linked with past trauma and I was impressed with the writing and how it weaved the facts together.
A murder in a town where her husband and his editor go on hunting trips catches the attention of Mrs March and she becomes convinced her husband is the perpetrator, investigating and seeking evidence to support this.
A very clever book, impressively written, particularly as a debut. Sensitively written in an engaging way. While it is clear Mrs March is hyper sensitive to the comments made about her and her husband’s current book, her subsequent distress is subtle, she is obviously distracted and the reader is caught, with this unreliable narrator wondering what is really happening and what is Mrs March’s own preoccupation as she tries desperately to put on a brave face and hold things together. Her identity as Mrs March and how she is perceived by others being central to her fractured identity.
This book published on Thursday 5th August, I’d recommend it to anyone seeking a new author, a strong work of fiction and an intricate and complex flawed main character. A study of mental health as told from the viewpoint of sufferer, perceiving her actions as reasonable and justified and thus evoking the sympathy of the reader as we have remarkable insight into her concerns, while noting the concerns of others which she cannot do.
Thank you again Lindsay at 4th Estate for introducing me to Mrs March, I enjoyed her story a lot.
About the Author
Virginia Feito was raised in Madrid and Paris, and studied English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a copywriter until she quit to write her debut novel. She lives in Madrid.