Everyone knows they should not judge others quickly, based only on their appearances or general first impressions, as humans are complex beings that are composed of several different layers. Yet, people are often disappointed to find out that they have done so anyway, defining those around us prematurely, without seeing the deeper layers. However, after reading the novel, The Last Mrs. Parrish (2017), and discovering its plot twist, they might be warned once again against making hasty judgments about others.
The Last Mrs. Parrish is the début novel of Liv Constantine, which is the pen name for two sisters, Lynne and Valerie Constantine. Despite it being their first work, the novel became a New York Times bestseller and satisfied lovers of the suspense and thriller genres. It has a fantastic plot twist, and the authors carefully set it up in a way that will come as an amazing shock to those who read the book for the first time. The authors also developed the main character in a clever way that makes the story distinctive.
There are three main parts in the novel. The first part is from the point of view of Amber, a self-centered gold-digger who is fiercely jealous of women of higher wealth. Amber meets Daphne, who has exactly what she wants—a rich, handsome husband and an extravagant lifestyle. Amber plots to steal Daphne’s husband, and she seems to be successful. However, was Daphne really that gullible? Is Daphne’s husband really as perfect as he seems? Or was Amber already caught in a web? As the book switches to Daphne’s perspective in the second part, readers will be able to learn the answer to these questions.
The plot twist is so masterfully crafted that the shock will be amplified for readers. The switch in perspectives, from Amber’s third person limited narrative to Daphne’s first person, certainly helps, but there is another technique that the authors use. One will notice that the overly generic way the first part progresses relaxes the readers. A gold-digger latching on to a husband with a devoted wife—anyone who has ever watched a dramatic soap opera will be familiar with it. This lulls the readers into a false sense of security by making them think they are aware of what is coming. Such confidence heightens their shock when the story goes against their expectations.
While the plot twist is what makes reading the book so satisfying, the character portrayal also plays a big role in creating a great story. Although Amber is no doubt a nasty person, her characterization is not completely distant from the readers from start to finish, unlike many typical stories. The audience can somewhat empathize with her character at certain moments, at least in the first part, where she is the sole narrator.
For instance, when the spoiled daughter of Daphne, Bella, is rude to Amber, she graciously forgives Bella’s behavior on the surface. Internally, Amber calls her a brat and is disgusted about having to be nice to her. This reaction from Amber is very humane, and readers can relate to her, as they would also have experiences of acting in a double-sided manner to save face. The author painting the obvious evildoer in the story as a relatable person is what makes reading this novel so exceptional—although readers will not like the main character, they cannot fully come to despise her.
The Last Mrs. Parrish seems to be a promising start for the two authors. The story that they created is intricately woven, with plot twists and characters flawlessly falling into place. Readers will be ensnared until they meet the satisfying conclusion to the tale.