Mrs. March by Virginia Feito
One of our Barnes & Noble buyers sent us an advance copy of Mrs. March by Virginia Feito because he’s very excited about this new work of psychological suspense, due to be published in August and apparently already optioned for film with Elizabeth Moss in the title role (good casting!). I enjoy a good psychological suspense novel, one with a story that will keep you up late and which is engaging but not emotionally wrenching like some of the literary fiction I usually choose! A recent example of a book like this that I greatly enjoyed is The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. Anyway, the book sounded fun, plus it’s a debut novel, something I also enjoy reading, and I really liked the cover, but more on that later.
The book is told entirely from the point of view of Mrs. March and the character is referred to throughout as Mrs. March. Her husband is a well-known novelist who has just published a new book which is doing quite well and which others have told her (she hasn’t read it) has a protagonist who is based on her – and who also happens to be an overweight, unattractive whore. Mrs. March is struggling with issues related to self esteem and identity and her place in the world and, as the book progresses, with her hold on reality. She also has an emotionally-removed relationship with her 8-year-old son and I suppose with her husband as well.
They live in a big apartment in New York City and have a lot of money and a maid and have fancy formal dinners together every night with the proper table settings (which of course I appreciated the references to table settings!). I had a little trouble figuring out when this book was supposed to take place. At the outset, it felt more contemporary but I think I also recall a scene where Lawrence Welk was on TV so maybe it was supposed to be the fifties. In any case, it was a fun and quick read and the ending will greatly please Hitchcock fans!
Now about the cover… (you may notice I write about covers frequently. I’m sure you know that it’s absolutely untrue that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Covers contain tropes that designers use to let potential readers know it’s their kind of book. Looking for historical fiction? Pick a book with a period picture of women seen from behind. Self-help? Look for big bold san-serif letters. Etc.)
I do very much like the cover’s stark and arresting image. The green gloves pictured on the cover are mentioned in the opening scene as something that Mrs. March proudly wears and which were a gift from her husband. I’m sure that cover designer was very excited to find this vintage-looking photo with a woman wearing green gloves. However, the gloves in the book are specifically described as kidskin and the gloves on the book cover are cloth gloves. I think that if you’re going be pay attention to detail like that you should go all the way and be fully accurate. Also, if you look closely at the little bit of skin showing from this woman’s wrist, to me that does not look like a young woman’s arm and Mrs. March was at least young enough to have an 8 year old child. Am I being totally nitpicky? I guess you can make your own decision on that! If I were the publisher, I would have sprung for a photo shoot with mint green leather gloves!