Friday, March 17, 2023

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey (Book Review)

Two diamond engagement rings, one pointing up and one pointing down linked at the bottom of their band. The next of the cover is written around the book and upside down at parts
    I'm not a huge fan of contemporary fiction. That's not exactly true. I just don't read much of it because I'm not interested in much of it. But there is a lot of wonderful contemporary fiction out there and I'm very pleased to say that "The Echo Wife" by Sarah Gailey is one of those.
    I was in a bookstore, just randomly browsing, not intending to buy anything, but a clerk had written a brief description of this book and it was enough to make me want to buy it. This won't be a review exactly, but perhaps my attempt to do for you what that clerk's write-up did for me.
    "The Echo Wife" could be summed up as a modern gothic near-future (futurist?) feminist novel. It centers around a woman, her ex-husband, the other woman, and human cloning. Neither woman is exactly likeable, but both are easy to root for despite their flaws. This is feminism in the best sense in that we have empowered women, struggling against a variety of patriarchal forces, but they aren't perfect people. They are flawed and unique and messy (very!) and the fact that we empathize so deeply with both of them while also recognizing their flaws is an evidence of the author's mastery of craft. 
    The narrative and prose are tightly constructed and well executed. If I had any qualms, it's that I'm still digesting the very very very ending. After a first reading, it feels just slightly less thought through than the rest of the book which is so perfectly built that I'm not sure the ending works. However, it may also be an ending that grows on me over time. Or, perhaps, it is intentionally not as tight as the rest for one of two possible reasons: 1) it's showing the main character's increasing release from her past trauma in that she is less studious and purposeful, and/or 2) that we are meant to question how things might unravel after the novel. It's that last part that has me unsettled. I guess time and re-readings will tell.
    Basically, if you like gothic and victorian proto-feminist works but want a modern (slightly futurist) setting with less angelic characters who are flawed but engaging that is well written, "The Echo Wife" is sure to please. I highly recommend it.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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