She sat up because she hadn’t even been aware of answering the phone and the night was still black and nothing made sense. Her head spun, and she dropped it forward to make it stop, which allowed other things to fall into place.
‘I’m sorry to wake you.’
‘What time is it?’
‘Just after four.’
‘My God, has something happened?’
‘No. well, I don’t know. Nancy’s not here. I must have fallen asleep when I was reading, because I’ve just woken up and she’s not back. And her phone’s going straight to voicemail.’
The streetlights were seeping in through the cracks in Eleanor’s curtains, and she tried to focus on the strip of artificial light, as if it meant something.
‘You don’t know where she is, do you? I mean, she didn’t by any chance come back to your place after dinner, did she?’ His voice sounded like overstretched elastic.
‘No – no, she didn’t.’ She swung her legs out of the bed, and all the irritation she’d felt for Nancy the night before, for ages really, sloshed about in her body. ‘Look, I can be there in fifteen minutes.’
Oh, God, you don’t have to…’
‘It’s fine, Robert. I’ll throw on some clothes and get into the car.’
The elastic in his voice snapped. ‘Oh, God, do you think, then … I mean, should I call the police?’
‘No, wait for me.’ Eleanor pulled on her jeans as she spoke, and her irritation mutated to anger. She wanted to pick up something and hurl it against the wall. She wanted to scream into Nancy’s perfect face. She wouldn’t let her get away with this. She would recount everything, every last painful second, she would spare her nothing.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.
A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?
MY THOUGHTS: I finished Imperfect Women with a definite sense of despondency. I felt weighted down by it. It was not the book I needed right at this moment. It has taken a long walk in the sunshine and a couple of hours of my favorite music to brighten my mood.
Imperfect Women is a brutally honest book about the bonds of friendship and marriage, human stupidity, love (or what passes for it), family, and the destructive powers of guilt and deception (in its many forms). It deals deeply with the expectations women place upon themselves, and those that the men in their lives impose upon them. It is a well written and well plotted book. But it is not a book to be read lightly; it is full of despair and introspection. I think that this is a book that will haunt me for some time.
The murder of Nancy is the catalyst for a chain reaction, but it is not the focus of the story. That remains firmly on the after effects of Nancy’s death.
The story is told in three parts: the first by Eleanor, best friend of both Nancy and Mary, philanthropist career woman, unmarried, childless and with no ‘significant other’ in her life; the second part is told from Nancy’s point of view and, believe me, there is not a lot to like about this woman, who has a brilliant brain which she has never put to use, and who is married to wealthy Robert with one daughter, and is careless with her affections; the third part is told from Mary’s point of view, married to University lecturer and narcissist Howard, with three children and no life outside the home. It is incredible to me that these three women have continued to be friends through all the years since their university days as they have absolutely nothing but their past in common.
At no time did I ever consider abandoning this read, yet neither did I rush to pick it up again after putting it down. I think I need a bit of time and distance from this one to gain a better perspective. I plan, in a week or so, to return and edit this review and possibly even my rating. Would I read another book by this author? Definitely.
‘We live in a world now where there has to be an answer to everything. We wonder about something and Google tells us the answer, but death isn’t always like that. And nor is love.’
‘What seems like great catastrophes to you are really just small sorrows in the big scheme of things.’
‘We have a responsibility to those who love us. … being loved makes us precious, and that means we have to take care of ourselves. You know, I think you and I, and Nancy as well, we’re good at loving, but not good at being loved. But that means we’re missing something important. We’re taking on too much of the bad responsibility and not enough of the good…’
‘There is always the possibility of new chapters in everyone’s stories.’
THE AUTHOR: Araminta Hall began her career in journalism as a staff writer on teen magazine Bliss, becoming Health and Beauty editor of New Woman. On her way, she wrote regular features for the Mirror’s Saturday supplement and ghost-wrote the super-model Caprice’s column.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com