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The Wife Between Us Summary & Study Guide

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
This Study Guide consists of approximately 79 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Wife Between Us.
This section contains 752 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Wife Between Us Summary & Study Guide Description

The Wife Between Us Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Hendricks, Greer and Pekkanen, Sarah. The Wife Between Us. Holtzbrinck Publishers, January 9, 2018. Kindle.

The novel The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen demonstrates how perceptions can blur reality as both characters in the novel and the reader are drawn into false beliefs. The apparent jealous ex-wife Vanessa Thompson turns out to be the one who orchestrated her husband’s affair while the princely Richard Thomas turns out to be less than perfect.

In the first part of the novel, Vanessa describes her life after she gets a divorce from Richard. She appears to be a jealous ex-wife because she breaks down when she learns that Richard is marrying the girl with whom he had an affair. Vanessa’s story is told in alternating chapters with the story of Nellie, a woman who is preparing for her wedding to Richard. The reader assumes Nellie is the girlfriend of whom Vanessa is jealous. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that Nellie and Vanessa are the same person. Nellie was Richard’s nickname for Vanessa. This part of the novel demonstrates how much Vanessa changed while she was married to Richard. She is obsessed with Richard’s new girlfriend not because she wants Richard back but because she wants to warn her about Richard’s real personality.

In the second part of the novel, Vanessa shares with her reader the incident in college that made her flee from her home in Florida after graduation. Maggie, a pledge in Vanessa’s sorority drowned during initiation. Because Vanessa was activities director and the girl’s big sister, Vanessa blamed herself for Maggie’s death. Maggie’s brother Jason threatened to never allow Vanessa to forget what had happened to his sister. Vanessa spent her life running from Jason and waiting for him to catch up with her.

In this part of the novel, Vanessa also describes the way Richard abused her during their marriage. He not only isolated her in their house in the suburbs but refused to allow her to be happy. When she grew to love the dog he got her as a gift, Richard arranged for the dog to disappear. She considered getting a job outside the house but when Richard heard about her plans he got angry with her and pretended they had to leave the party they were attending because she was drunk. At home that night, Richard hit Vanessa for the first time. Richard became more violent as time passed. One day he found a notebook in which Vanessa had been writing down inconsistencies in Richard’s behavior in an attempt to make sense of them. Richard kicked Vanessa in the ribs and then almost choked her to death. It was after this incident that Vanessa realized the only way she could escape Richard would be if he thought the separation was his idea.

Vanessa describes how she saw Richard’s attraction for his new assistant, Emma, growing. Instead of confronting them about their affair, Vanessa encouraged it. It was only after Vanessa made her escape from Richard that she realized she had doomed another woman to the same fate she had suffered. Vanessa not only decided she had to stop Emma from marrying Richard but needed to keep him from getting married at all.

In Part 3 of the novel Vanessa describes how she used credit card receipts from a case of wine to prove to Emma that Richard was not the person Emma thought he was. Even when Vanessa thought that she had convinced Emma, Richard sways Emma with his convincing behavior. Vanessa finally shows up at Emma’s apartment building to meet Richard face on, willing to sacrifice herself if she needed to do so in order to save Emma. Emma witnesses as Richard almost chokes her to death.

As a result of this incident, Richard is sentenced to therapy at an inpatient facility. He asks Vanessa to visit him and begs her to come back to him but she refuses. Emma, meanwhile, admits to Vanessa that she is the daughter of Daniel Barton, the college professor with whom Vanessa had an affair. Daniel had told Vanessa he was single. Emma remembered Vanessa’s role in the breakup of her parents’ marriage and had made it her goal to destroy Vanessa’s marriage. Emma apologizes to Vanessa for assuming she had been the one to encourage the affair.

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