The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Book Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪
Amber, Amber, Amber. From page one, the reader is groomed to dislike this slimy conniving narrator. Nearly the first words out of her mouth begin to spin a lie, and not just a fib, not just any little innocent stretching of the truth, nah, Amber lies about having had a sister who died of Cystic Fibrosis. Liv Constantine (actually a pair of sisters, Lynn and Valerie Constantine, but I’ll continue to refer to the author as one, as per the pseudonym’s wishes) makes the reader explicitly aware of where Amber stands from the get go, meaning that Daphne Parrish, our second narrator, is set up as an angelic juxtaposition of all things shiny and good.
Daphne is depicted as the classic golden girl who seems to have it all: the beautiful husband two little girls (bratty though they may be), money to spare, and looks on looks on looks. The main source of sadness in her life seems to be the memory of her sister Julie, who died from Cystic Fibrosis when she was a teenager, inspiring Daphne to start her foundation, Julie’s Smile. After the two women first encounter each other, Amber begins to worm her way deeper and deeper into Daphne’s life. She starts with the lie about her sister, the link that makes Daphne welcome her as a friend in the first place, and from there layers on the dishonesty in order to get closer to the Parrish family.
By about 100 pages into the nearly 400 page book, Amber has finagled her way into a job working with Daphne’s husband, Jackson, by spinning a tale about her previous boss sexually harassing her, and she begins to drug Jackson’s assistant in order to ultimately have the job herself, and thus work with him directly. From there, she surpasses the role of Mrs. Parrish’s friend, and begins to actually try to take Daphne’s place, specifically by (successfully) seducing Jackson. Like I said, we don’t like her.
Daphne’s narration starts a little over halfway through the book, and this is where the big reveal comes, the one I wait for with baited breath every time I’m reading a new thriller. That first line of Daphne’s narration was enough to keep me glued to the pages: “I didn’t use to be afraid of my husband.” What?! Where did that come from! In Daphne’s narration, she depicts Jackson’s history of emotional and physical torment beginning from the start of their marriage, and becoming more and more horrendous as the years have gone by. She outlines the way Jackson’s belittling comments have broken her down little by little, and how he’s estranged her from the people she loves most. Once the reader is appropriately dumbstruck by the incredible abuse Daphne has experienced, we get to see insight into how she views her friendship with Amber.
“If there’s one thing living with an abusive psychopath has taught me, it’s how to make the best of a bad situation,” Constantine, as Daphne, writes. From there, we learn just how assertive, clever, and strong-willed Daphne has been as she has primed both her husband and Amber to desire each other and effectively cut herself out of the picture. Did I for one moment during the first half of the book think that Daphne was anything more than the victim of Amber’s terrible scheme? Absolutely not. The twist that this story took had me reeling, and the ending felt like sweet, sweet justice. This book is one of my new go-to recommendations for all my fellow thriller-lovers. I paired it with these Sweet and Salty M&M Pretzel Bars, an homage to our two narrators and their multifaceted personalities. To mix things up even more, I altered the recipe by using caramel M&Ms instead of regular ones, 10/10 recommend! Careful not to overbake these guys, they should look a little underdone when you take them out of the oven (if they end up too dry they’ll crumble all over your book… Not speaking from experience or anything…). Let me know if you try the bars or the book, in the meantime I’ll just be sitting here waiting for Liv Constantine’s next one.