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Sam Statler and his wife Annie Potter moved from New York City to Chestnut Hill, NY when Sam’s mother had to be placed in a nursing home because of her dementia. Sam, a psychologist, is quickly building a successful private practice when he disappears during a late-season tropical storm.
Holy cow. I’ve been looking for a book with a great twist for years (since reading Shutter Island back in 2010) and been consistently disappointed. This book didn’t just twist, it corkscrewed! Repeatedly! I literally gasped at the end of each part.
The “Girl” or “Woman” psychological thriller craze irritates me. I gave both Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins a DNF. I did manage to finish The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine and The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides but I was underwhelmed. I don’t remember whose review prompted me to request Goodnight Beautiful at the library, but I’m glad I did.
I started listening to the book with trepidation. Was this going to be another book with a crazy, unlikeable, untrustworthy female? I was starting to get a sinking feeling in my stomach when a female character comes out with this statement (possibly not an exact quote as I’m transcribing from the audio):
“Another unreliable female narrator. I’m getting a little tired of the way women are being depicted in fiction right now, to be honest. […] That we’re prone to neurosis and/or hysteria and our judgment shouldn’t be trusted. Thus legitimizing the hegemonic idea of masculinity and men’s dominant position in society and justifying the subordination of women.”
“What’s this?” I thought. “She’s echoing my own thoughts! Is Ms. Molloy going to own that trope or is she going to turn it on its head?” I decided to stick around and see. The payoff for me was huge!
The author included a lot of nods to books featuring unstable women. I’m sure I missed some of the Easter eggs since I’m so resistant to the genre, but I appreciated the ones I picked up on. I truly can’t say more without giving something away so you’ll just have to take my word on it from here.
The audiobook, read by Val Toomey, George Newbern, Marin Ireland, and Joel Froomkin, was fabulous. One detail about the casting bothered me at first but it made sense as I continued.
I’ll stop here but if you’re looking for a fast-paced, twisty read and you’re as tired of the “crazy girl” thrillers as I am, give this one a try.
If you liked Goodnight Beautiful, you might also like my reviews of
- Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
- The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian (Link to my brief review on GoodReads)
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, translated by Lucia Graves
Buy Goodnight Beautiful from Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC.
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site.