Book Review: The Red Room by M.S. Morris
Because the end of this book made me so angry, I’m not going to worry about spoilers. I was actually quite enjoying it until the last few pages, at which point I lost my temper and darn nearly threw my tablet in the swimming pool while watching my kids swim.
The book is told from the PoV of Jane, a woman living a very quiet life in the country. Her husband Adam works in London during the week and is home only on weekends; they appear to have an idyllic marriage. Jane knows, though, that not all is right with her past. There’s something terrible which happened to her in a red room, and before that… there’s nothing.
Tension builds through the story as small discoveries lead to Jane finding out more and more about her husband and her past. She makes a few friends among local women, of which her husband disapproves. When she finds a life insurance policy paid out on his dead wife, a woman named Victoria who Jane has never heard of, Jane realises she doesn’t know nearly as much about Adam as she things.
(This is where things get spoilery). It turns out Jane IS Victoria. Victoria was a high-flying ad executive in London who apparently disappeared rowing on the Thames seven years earlier. But Adam is insistent Jane has never even been to London. In the end, she screws up her courage and takes the train in with her friends, who are going to a theatre performance. In Adam’s London house, she finds the red room - and Adam catches her there. With her anxious friends there too, he finally tells her the truth. Seven years earlier, she got a big promotion at work and told him, on the way home, that she was pregnant. They fought because he thought she should be a stay at home mother. At home, he locked her in the red room (her private study area) because she was trying to hit him. She had some sort of manic episode and apparently caused her own miscarriage.
At this point, he picked her up, put her in the car and drove her, not to the hospital, but their holiday cottage in Yorkshire. In shock, she was completely amnesiac. No memory whatsoever. So he gave her a completely new one. She was now Jane, a stay at home wife who hated crowds, had never been to London and was perfectly happy doing nothing at home alone all week while he worked. Oh, and he also faked her death and claimed the insurance money.
My eyes were in rapid-blink mode by then, because it’s clear Adam is a complete psycho. He wants a Stepford wife, not one with any agency of her own. How the hell much do the authors hate executive level women anyway, to make a professional woman the target of this kind of horrific story?
The ending is so unbelievably awful my can’t even can’t even. Instead of getting Adam locked up as a dangerous, fraudulent criminal and possibly the biggest gaslighter ever to walk the earth, all Jane’s friends decide to support her decision to go back to her nice simple Yorkshire cottage life where she’s perfectly happy doing absolutely nothing and sees Adam only on weekends.
So… everything’s just hunky dory, then? Being a Stepford wife is all an intelligent woman could possibly want as a happy ending?
What. The. Hell. Did. I. Just. Read?
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.