It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
A tale about three unlikable women and their faux friendship
I work in my local library and when this book came in I was intrigued by the description on the dust cover about three friends who become enemies over time to the point one is trying to get the other to jump off a bridge and kill herself. I hadn't heard about the rave reviews this book had gotten. Unfortunately, having partially read it [I couldn't put myself through the torture of reading the whole thing] I have to wonder if they actually read the book. The description on the dust cover isn't even accurate. It isn't one friend trying to get the other to jump. It's someone else trying to get one of the women to jump.
My biggest problem with the book was the fact that none of the three lead characters were even likable. If I had to decide which of the three was most likable I'd probably have to say it was Jenny who was a better friend to the dimwit, Aubrey, than she actually deserved. But she seemed to be a friend to Aubrey more out of a feeling of obligation than real friendship. Aubrey was just this pathetic creature who needed taking care of and she felt obligated to take care of her.
At page 100 I started skimming ahead of the slow-moving story aka Saved By The Bell: The College Years to see if it was worth continuing to slog through this tripe. I ended up peeking at the final chapters to see if it was a good ending that would inspire me to read through the entire book and it wasn't. I did want to see how Tim and Jenny ended up married but it wasn't worth having to put myself through this tripe.
Just how bad was it. By the second or third chapter I was hoping the Aubrey character was the one forced to kill herself. I can't use enough negative adjectives to describe this pathetic little worm of a character. As I said, Jenny does more for her and she's never grateful and is always worshiping her ideal Kate. Her relationship with Kate is akin to a devoted dog that gets kicked by its master and keeps coming back for more. The little sycophant even dyes her hair to try and make herself look like Kate. She's like one of those guys that loves a woman even more the worse she treats him. We also have one of those in this story, too, and dumb little Aubrey wants him, probably because she knows he wants Kate.
The premise for the Kate character is she's supposed to be this bright shiny star everyone is drawn to even though she's toxic.Think Dr. Adam Bricker on the Love Boat being the show's love stud when even when Bernie Kopell was young he wasn't hot or Doogie Howser being this big ladies man on How I Met Your Mother. You have to suspend belief. Kate murders a guy who dumps her and gets away with it because she's rich and her dumb little sycophant Aubrey lies about what really happened. It seems she has a pattern of getting sycophants like Aubrey to agree to a suicide pact with her then not going through with it after said sycophant kills herself.
Things come to a head in the present when the insipid moron, Aubrey, learns Kate is screwing her husband [who she's well aware is a serial cheater] but the lapdog still stays with him. When she learns Jenny knew and didn't tell the big dummy she vows revenge on her, too, conveniently forgetting all that Jenny has done for her, including to helping her build a business for herself. Then she does something so nasty and repellent she achieves her lifelong goal of becoming Kate and has no redeeming qualities just like her precious Kate. And, apparently, like her precious Kate, she gets away with it and receives no punishment for what she does.
The only one of the three who gets what could be called a happy ending is the Jenny character. Her part of the story ends with her marriage becoming more stronger and best yet after what that foul Aubrey tries to do to Jenny's husband, she's finally free of the nasty albatross for good. Win-win.
I read a lot of reviews on Amazon where people actually loved this book, so it may just be me who didn't like it. But for me the best thing about this book and perhaps the only thing good about this book is the title. When you read the end of it you'll understand why I said that.
I think the three women could have been more likable if written differently. When the Aubrey character discovered her idol, Kate, was screwing her husband, it could have been a turning point and she could have gotten some much-needed dignity by having it out with Kate and finally seeing what a fool she'd been instead of what she did which just made the character a complete waste of space. Ditto for the Kate character, whose problems all seemed to be imagined and not even real, which made me have zero sympathy for her and her supposed problems.
Ultimately for me this is a book about nasty people who did nasty things and never had to pay for their crimes. And as I said, I didn't even buy that this was even a real friendship between these three women. It seemed more about having to putting up with each other because they were stuck sharing a dorm room together.
Rating-wise I'll be generous and give it three stars: * * *