A review of The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald

Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane

The Secret Lives of Married Women
By Elissa Wald
Cover art by Glen Orbik
Hard Case Crime, 2013
ISBN: 9781781162620

For all its BDSM and thriller elements, at heart this novel is really just an old fashioned romance (two or three of them, actually) – and that’s no bad thing.

The married women in question are Leda and Lillian. In part one, ‘The Man Under the House’, we follow Leda, a former actress who has settled out in the suburbs with her husband Stas. She is being hassled by Jack, a guy working close by, who thinks he’s seen her someplace before. Well, he has. It is not so easy to kiss the past goodbye.

As for Lillian, both she and her husband are lawyers, and part two, ‘Abel’s Cane’, recounts one of her cases. It describes her defence of Nan, a submissive woman who lands a dream job, working for Abel, a blind man. It allows her to sacrifice, to give all. What Elissa Wald achieves most of all in the novel is to make Nan’s plight not only understandable but heart-rending, even noble:

She often felt hollow, transcendent, as if she were pure spirit and the pain was what weighed her to the earth. Other times, in a way that made no sense even to her, she felt hurt and close to tears. She felt pangs of aftershock, arousal, and bewildered grief all at the same time.

A fine novel.  An interesting, related article by Elissa Wald can be found here.