by Virginia Feito
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Pub Date 5 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 28 May 2022
4th Estate and William Collins, Fourth Estate
SET TO BECOME A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING ELIZABETH MOSS
Shirley Jackson meets Ottessa Moshfegh meets My Sister the Serial Killer in a brilliantly unsettling and darkly funny debut novel full of suspense and paranoia
George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.
A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of
olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book –
a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.
One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one
that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.
A razor-sharp exploration of the fragility of identity and the smothering weight of expectations, Mrs. March heralds the arrival of a wicked and wonderful new voice.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 188 members
A thoroughly good read, Mrs March (will we ever learn her name?) is a fine invention. Already a character of fiction in George March´s (her writer husband) successful latest novel, we follow her relentless descent into madness (or is she being gaslighted? or both?) as she goes about her rather aimless Upper-East Side bourgeois life (large apartment, daily housekeeper, fur coat, single child, rigid code of conduct).
She is only 42 but she could be 60. She is living in 2020s Manhattan, but this could be the 60s. The outside trappings of her life are somehow of negligible importance, it is her inner conflict, relentlessly pursued by the narrator with single-minded thrust, through looking at her actions and thoughts, what sustains the story, a tragicomic, deadpan narration (a march!) of Mrs March´s (echoes of Mrs Dalloway) inner dialogue with the world and herself. The reasons for her disintegration (rich girl neglect, societal conformity etc) punctuate the linear, forward-moving present story.
A psychological thriller of sorts, totally focused on Mrs March´s mind, it is also a wonderfully witty and humorous commentary on writing and the fictional life of characters.
I particularly enjoyed the verisimilitude of certain elements (snippets of dialogue, a shop perfectly conjured, the staging of a sofa... ) with the extreme fictionality of others (a sudden narrator´s emphasis, the cinematic-dreamlike quality of the whole).
Lots of intelligent fun in this novel. Recommended! Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this novel.
This book is outstanding and in my opinion, it deserves to win a literary award. Virginia Feito's writing is so good that I felt like I was inside Mrs March's head, yet, like Flaubert's 'Madame Bovary', it is actualy written in the third person.
The protagonist, Mrs March (The reader does in fact discover her first name right at the end.) is a woman with a predisposition to paranoia whose total unravelling occurs when her favourite patissier makes a passing comment about Mrs March having inspired an unflattering character in Mr March's latest novel. The reader witnesses Mrs March's subsequent descent into a type of psychosis and observes her increasingly questionable behaviour as well as her suspicions about Mr March. We accompany Mrs March on her 'journey' and begin to doubt her judgement, assuming it's not going to end well but without knowing exactly which direction it will take.
Once you start reading 'Mrs March'., you won't want to put it down. At times it is uncomfortable but you will be desperate to know how the story unfolds. Other Netgalley reviewers have described the novel's dark humour and Mrs March's obsession with social status, class and etiquette is indeed funny (we have no doubt all encountered people like that) but she is a character with depth, who has a troubled backstory. Being aware of her vulnerability and emotional instability made me regard Mrs March as a figure who merited sympathy.
The novel is set in the USA and I'm guessing that it takes place somewhere between the 1970's and 1980's on account of the occasional cultural references mentioned. I live in the UK and had not previously been aware of the book and had no preconceptions before I started reading; I simply liked the synopsis and requested an ARC. I'm so pleased that I did because it has been a privilege to read. I can't recommend 'Mrs March' highly enough and shall be buying it for friends and family as gifts. Thank-you to 4th Estate and William Collins.
Mrs .March a glorious dark funny haunting novel.I picked it up sat down to read it and was plunged into a wild ride from the first pages.Mrs?March married to a well known author Mrs.March who goes to a bakery every morning to purchase her olive bread till one morning the woman who serves her everyday tells her she read her husbands novel and is sure the heroine is based on her,She storms out of the store after yelling at the salesperson no ,it’s not based on me your wrong,She rushes home to read the novel she really doesn’t read her husbands books and we are brought vintio her world with all the people who are around herb her husband her housekeeper sit back enjoy this so entertaining novel.I will be recommending and gifting it #netgalley#4thestate,
Mrs March, what a fantastic trip it has been!!! Mrs March put me through the wringer. I started reading it at 5pm. I finished it at 10pm, speechless. Unable to sleep and unable to stop thinking about her, I got up very early, went for a long walk and started reading it again upon my return. Even after a second and much slower reading I'm still left speechless...
Virginia Feito's unbelievable journey into Mrs March's inner world is beyond brilliant, almost beyond comprehension. An emotionally charged portrait of a woman on the verge of implosion, a visceral descent into self destruction. Is she a victim? Is she going totally bonkers? Is she a conniving vixen?....Questions I would rather leave unanswered because I would be too afraid to spill the beans.....
Furthermore I would be unable to give other readers one honest answer because I'm still trying to come to terms with Mrs March's fictional being/beings and it might prove a bit too difficult to resolve the issue without a third or fourth reading...
Reading this powerful and unforgettable novel I had the feeling at one point that Evan Connell's Mrs Bridge was inviting Isabelle Huppert to step out of "Elle" and the "Piano teacher" in order to drop acid and read Kafka's Metamorphosis aloud👍👍
Please don't miss this fantastic novel. Please🙏
Many many thanks to Netgalley and 4th Estate/William Collins for the ARC and the mind-blowing reading experience it gave me
I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review
I have no idea what this book is and I was genuinely baffled where it was going throughout, but I just loved the heck out of it. Run, don’t walk, to read this book. Easy 5
I love an unreliable narrator novel, and this didn't disappoint. If you're after a fast-paced psychological thriller, this isn't it and I think that's what some of the negative reviews are about. Instead, it's a wonderful character study and explores themes of relationships (marriage and motherhood) and wealth, as well as loneliness, paranoia, mental health and status. It's a slow burner in terms of the action, but I didn't feel it was lacking at all. I enjoyed the whole thing from start to finish.
I always struggle to write 5-star reviews for books I loved. When a book has things that annoy me -if it’s predictable, badly paced or too long, for example, I’m able to find pages and pages of things to say. I get the notes app out on my phone and write comments as I go along, often rolling my eyes as I do so. When I love a book however, I just want to yell ‘read this book’ and leave it at that. When I fully enjoy a book I don’t take notes as I read - I’m just fully invested and happy to have read it and it makes writing the reviews for them very hard!
Mrs March is one such book that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. It’s a slow-burn character study in a woman getting more unhinged as it goes along. At the beginning it seems like Mrs March (she is referred to with this moniker only – as her entire identity revolves around her husband) has the perfect life – a loving and successful husband, a beautiful house and lots of money. However, a few words from strangers about her husband’s new book is enough to start her slip into mental health issues. The book is set in an era where a woman was expected to be quiet and well-groomed, tending to their husband’s every whim and being a key support figure for their success. This stifling societal expectation adds onto the pressure that Mrs March feels throughout and how she is expected to look and act in public.
The book is really nicely paced, with enough happening to keep your interest but a definite build in events. Mrs March is also a very unreliable narrator, and you have to keep reminding yourself of this when an external character says or does something that seems to come out of nowhere.
The writing style is beautiful and its amazing to think that this is a debut book. I’ll certainly be looking out for more books written by Virginia Feito in future. I can see from the blurb that Elizabeth Moss is looking to make a screen adaptation of it – I’m not sure how well it was translate across as so much is in the character’s head and part of its pleasure is from the choice of words and flow of the prose.
Overall, Mrs March is my final KINDIG GEM of 2021, a gripping and disturbing read that kept me hooked from the first page. Thank you to NetGalley, 4th Estate & William Collins for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Why has this not been shortlisted for any literary awards!?
Moshfegh meets Hitchcock in this dark, funny, literary thriller . I loved this book and simply cannot wait for the screen adaptation .
It's a dark exploration of someone's mind and we follow Mrs March on a journey of paranoia and a descent into madness and hysteria. . It's one of those books where you don't really know where the story is going and I can see why it isn't for everyone . I loved the writing style and wry description of New York society, although i am still left wondering what decade we were in , the book reads like 1950s NY yet we have references to the modern day. The tension builds slowly throughout and peaks at the end and will leave you thinking what was that !
A great read
Virginia Feito's debut is a disturbingly chilling, twisted literary psychological drama, with the complex eponymous Mrs March, whose first name we learn only at the end, set in New York's Upper East Side. Mrs March is married to George, a well known writer, whose latest novel has attracted a great deal of interest. Proud of his success, she supports him, has a stepdaughter who lives in London and a 8 year old son, Jonathan. There is a celebratory party organised for George, but Mrs March's life is thrown into disarray when she goes to a purchase black olive bread at a bakery, where on paying, Patricia praises her husband's book, but horrifies her when she suggests the main character, a highly unlikeable prostitute, Johanna, is based on her, given the similarities between them. Burning with humiliation, Mrs March leaves the store.
Mrs March is an uptight and dutiful woman, living a life of privilege, close to no-one, whose life revolves around her routines and rituals, she is wedded to how things appear. She is determined to find out the background to just how the novel came into being, and what led George to the creation of Johanna as she worries about the state of her marriage. There are numerous ambiguities and a strange dreamlike atmosphere as the world of the unreliable and emotionally damaged Mrs March begins to unravel into a nightmare of horror and paranoia. Elements of her traumatic past are revealed, including her childhood, her suspicions escalating, her moods shifting from one end of the spectrum to the other, Mrs March descends into the depths of insanity. Where will it all end?
This is a beautifully written, well plotted, and a keenly observed character driven study of the deterioriation of Mrs March and her mental health. The prose is richly descriptive and vivid, in this deep unsetttling, darkly humorous and totally compulsive novel. There is the symbolic mention and reference to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and there are echoes of Patricia Highsmith and the iconic films of Hitchcock in Feito's storytelling. Indeed, I am not surprised to learn there will be a film of this book, with Elizabeth Moss to star as the flawed Mrs March, which I look forward to with great anticipation. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.
Everyone who has read it has recommended this book to me and I can understand why. I think it will have a cult following - it is original, funny, and brilliantly written.
I’d usually have more to say than this, but all I have for this book is this: it’s really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really good.
Brilliantly written psychological thriller packed with dark humour and with an amazing central character. I loved the echoes of Mrs Dalloway, but this is no imitation. Mrs March’s descent into paranoia and its final outcome is unrelenting and completely gripping throughout. Hihgly recommended!
Mrs March leads the classic life of a New York upper class housewife and mother. Her husband George is a successful writer whose latest novel has catapulted him to the top of the bestseller list. Mrs March was raised to this life, from her childhood on, she has learnt how to behave in society and how to present herself and her family in an adequate way. Yet, her whole life has somehow become only a scenery of a life and she has lost herself. When a young woman’s body is found, she is intrigued and soon she finds more and more evidence that her husband’s inspiration might not just come out of himself and his imagination but might actually stem from actual experience. Is she sharing her bed with a murderer?
Virginia Feito’s debut novel “Mrs March” is an intense psychological study of a woman who has lost connection to reality and is gradually plummeting into an abyss. Brilliantly the author shows how a strongly self-controlled character more and more loses power over her life and in the end can hardly distinguish between what is real and what is only imagined.
It is quite clever how the protagonist is presented to the reader, she is only ever referred to as “Mrs March” thus defined by her status as a married woman and without a first name. She is not given anything that she brings into the marriage from her childhood. From her flashbacks you learn that her parents treated her rather coolly and that she has always felt like not doing anything right, not being the daughter they had hoped for, not fulfilling the expectations, until, finally, they can hand her over to her husband. The only persons she could bond with was her – rather malicious – imagined friend Kiki and a household help, yet, she couldn’t cope with positive feelings since this concept was totally alien to her.
Behind the facade of the impeccable woman is a troubled mind. First, it is just the assumption that people talk behind her back, compare her to her husband’s latest novel’s protagonist – not very flattering since this is a prostitute who is paid out of pity instead of for good service rendered – then she sees cockroaches and finds more and more signs which link George with the murder of the young woman the whole country is talking about. From her point of view, it a fits together perfectly, but she does not see how she herself increasingly fractures. Most of the plot happens behind closed doors, she does not have friends or family she is close to, thus, there is nobody to help her.
As readers, we know exactly where she is headed to and then, Virginia Feito confronts us with an unexpected twist which lets you reassess what you have just read. The distinction between reality and paranoia sometimes isn’t that clear at all.
A wonderfully written, suspenseful kind of gothic novel set in New York’s upper class whose signs of class affiliation are repeatedly mocked while also showing that not all is well just because you live in a posh apartment and can wear expensive clothes.
Ok, I absolutely adored this book and it might be my fave book of this month (and it's barely 10th).
The whole spiraling of Mrs March was so well written, the writing so compelling.
I loved how you can't really pinpoint the time frame. It might have been set in the 50s but it might have been set now. It's very universal and it's one of the biggest strengths of this novel.
The ending was brilliant.
I can't wait for Feito's next book!
I’ve seen Mrs March described as a ‘twisted Mrs Dalloway’ and I can understand why. Mrs March is married to the famous writer George March. His latest bestseller features an ugly and unpleasant prostitute and when someone suggests to Mrs March that the character is based on her, her paranoia grows and her grip on reality starts to slip.
This is a wonderful character study of a mind in freefall and also a chilling exploration of the darkness that so many of us hide underneath a veneer of respectability. The novel references Woolf, Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and is equal to all of them. Feito has created an unforgettable character and a disquieting and compelling reading experience. It’s amazing to think that this is her debut.
Despite the serious issues of dependence, deceit and spousal cruelty this novel raises, I loved reading ‘Mrs March’ as it is written in such eloquent, exquisite style. Unsurprisingly, the protagonist is Mrs March, a woman whose marriage to a successful novelist and subservience to her privileged and affluent New York society surroundings seem to have erased her identity. More surprisingly is that she does not appear to have a first name (or rather, a first name not revealed until the last breaths of this novel), and that, although mother to 8 year old-Jonathan, Mrs March is never described as maternal either. A chance conversation with a local shopkeeper, who surmises that Mrs March’s successful novelist husband must have based his latest literary protagonist on her, sets in chain Mrs March’s destructive spiral into despondency, delusion, and destructive paranoia. Her surname (with its inference to the Ides of March, a date in the Roman calendar that signified celebrations and conviviality), appears crueller the more desperate she becomes….This fictional character portrait and the scenes in New York were so well-drawn that I was amazed that this book is a debut, published by an author who does not in fact hail from New York but has lived in Madrid, Paris and London. I cannot wait to see what Virgina Feito will write next. This novel is definitely recommended!
My thanks go to the publishers and to NetGalley for the free ARC they let me have in return for this honest and unbiased review.
Well, this I really enjoyed. Honestly, at first I was a little put off, feeling that I was reading something that felt like Mad Men, however, something clicked for me - the temerity of Mrs March morphs into a strength that just carried the novel for me. Razor sharp wit, the way Mrs March reviews her life, the 'characters' around her - brilliant. The blurb for this reads Shirley Jackson meets My Sister The Serial Killer and this is that with so much more. Definitely an author I will keep an eye out for more from and a recommendation to others as well.
Mrs March takes us into her head, back to her childhood, forward through her insecurities and into an increasingly disturbing mind. The wife of a celebrated author, she is horrified to think that he may have based his latest character on her and she becomes convinced that everyone is talking about it. Darkly funny, cruelly observant, this is a book that takes you by the lapels and grips you until the end.
I was so excited about this book and it did not disappoint!
Mrs March was described as Shirley Jackson meets Ottessa Moshfegh meets My Sister the Serial Killer and I love all of these things. I also read straight away that it was being made into a film starring Elisabeth Moss. This book is going to make such a fantastic film.
Mrs March is dark and gripping and an up-put-downable descent into madness. I read it in two days but could easily have read it in one sitting.
I can’t believe this is a debut - I’ll be recommending it to everyone this year
Very much enjoyed this psychological study of Mrs March as her life unravels; Feito offers what feels like a real insight into the character’s mental state as she starts to question her husband and their relationship after he (possibly) bases the central and unappealing character of his latest novel on her.
There is an element of a thriller to this as mrs March (unnamed until the end) starts to investigate her suspicions, but there is a significant disconnect between her experience and others, and this is where the novel is best for me.
Can’t wait to see Elizabeth Moss play Mrs March!
Mrs March was a woman of routine. Each day she would venture to her favourite shop for the best olive bread that she had ever tasted, but today would put her on a new course in her life and destroy everything that she had accepted in the past. Mr March, her highly successful best selling author husband, had just released a new novel, which was rapidly becoming known as his best book yet. She was thrilled to be living in the glory of his success, especially entertaining their high society and well-known friends, along with the prestige that came with it.
She had skimmed the book but not read it herself, so when the shopkeeper asked her if the protagonist was based on her, she began to look at the smiling people more as laughing at her. Mr March’s story was about an ageing and less desirable prostitute. How could he do this to her after all she had given up for him!
Oh wow! What a beauty this is. Mrs March is quite a character, with all of the story being told from how she sees the people around her react. Set in the 1950s, the era is perfectly captured by author Virginia Feito, who has made it into a very visual and captivating story. It is a story that plays with your mind and makes you doubt every character in every chapter. It is wickedly devilish.
When Mrs March makes a shocking discovery, it throws a whole new light on Mr March and sends Mrs March on a mission. Is she onto something? Is she crazy? Or was I? I didn’t know anymore. A perfect build-up to a mind-blowing end. I cannot wait until the movie is released. Yes, the movie. It will be a belter!
I wish to thank 4th Estate Books for inviting me to read and review this book which I have reviewed honestly.
Mrs .March by Virginia Feito is a very dark, yet funny and also haunting novel. I hadn't known what to expect when I started the first page but I was very quickly hooked. Mrs. March is married to Mr. March, a writer. Her life at first is simple and mundane. She follows the same daily pattern until one day, while purchasing her daily bread at the patisserie, she is told that one of characters of her husbands novels seems to be based on her. Until then she never really understood his writing but this stimulus sets her off on a voyage of discovery which leads her to ask the questions, does she really know her husband at all.
This book was so well written, intriguing throughout. I really couldn't put it down. It was dark and mysterious, a real page turner.
George March has a new book published, its his magnum opus and well on its way into the best seller list. When Patricia at the bakery dares to suggest to Mrs March that surely the main character is based on herself and yet isn’t Johanna a whore??? Mrs March is horrified and vows never to buy her pastries there again. The following day the couple host a pre Christmas party for the great and good of the literati world where Mrs March fears they are talking about her and far worse, laughing at her. ‘Do you think she knows? About Johanna?’ .... this is the straw that broke the camels back as she sinks into despair and paranoia as she loses her grip on reality.
Wow. What an excellent debut which is an absorbing read but which also makes you feel uneasy in a number of ways. It’s a character driven dark exploration of someone’s mind as she veers and swings from manic with her mind in overdrive as she becomes increasingly suspicious of George and then she’s almost passive, fearful and lacking in confidence. There are some vivid scenes such as the party which is the catalyst to what follows and at times it’s difficult to know what is illusion and delusion. Mrs March has a disturbing past and that too adds to the unsettling feel. You are desperately sorry for her as she’s so alone, excluded and has been all her life. We don’t even know her Christian name until the end which makes her an appendage to George rather than a person in her own right which is clever. . Who exactly is Mrs March?? It’s not only her character that disturbs as so does her eight year old son Jonathan, what is going on there???? George is more peripheral but is absolutely key to the ensuing events as you wonder too, exactly what is George guilty of? I enjoy puzzling the time frame too, the brilliant cover suggests 1950’s and early 1960’s and this adds to the whole intriguing puzzle. The ending is very good and like what has gone before leaves you full of disquiet and unnerved. This is one book I will not forget and it’ll be fascinating to see how Elisabeth Moss portrays her.
Overall, this is a very compelling book as it has so many facets to it from the exploration of a troubled mind based on past and present events, to a chaotic life with growing suspicions of her husband which builds and builds to a dramatic conclusion. It’s clear that as a writer Virginia Feito is going places.
With thanks to NetGalley and especially to 4th Estate and William Collins for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
I couldn't believe this was a debut honestly. It's so well written, with characters that pop off the page, especially Mrs March of course. She's such a well developed, interesting character that grows on you and you can't stop reading. It's an accomplishment, I'm not surprised it's going to be a movie. I can't wait.
Mrs. March is very proud of her husband's latest book. Not that she's read it. But when picking up her olive loaf at her favorite bakery, the clerk comments that the main character, Johanna, is obviously based on Mrs. March.
That can't be. Johanna is a prostitute.
Thus begins Mrs. March's descent into madness. How does her husband really see her? How does anybody see her? And how does she see herself? She doesn't even divulge her own first name.
Creeping in George's study, she finds a clipping about a young woman murdered in the small Maine town where George sometimes hunts with his editor and becomes convinced George is the killer.
This book is super-creepy, told entirely from the point of view of Mrs. March, who the reader almost immediately senses has a few problems. Many things are murky--the time period of the novel, Mrs. March's first name, what their Jonathan did to get suspended.
Many of the psychological suspense novels I read ultimately blend together. This one stands out. #MrsMarch #NetGalley
It's a disturbing, darkly humorous and enthralling story. A travel into the mind of a woman after her breakdown.
We don't know a lot about Mrs March, we don't know her name till the end.
But we get to know her mind, her attention to social niceties and how she's easily broken by a casual observation.
It's a slow burning book, a story that it's fascinating and repulsive at times.
The descriptions of New York and of social life made me think of Truman Capote, there's a sort of common dark humor.
The author delivers a story with an unreliable and unlikeable main character, lonely and damaged.
It's an excellent read, highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
My thanks to 4th Estate William Collins for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Mrs. March’ by Virginia Feito in exchange for an honest review.
This proved an unusual literary domestic noir that follows the titular Mrs. March down a dark path.
She is only referred as Mrs. March throughout the novel (until the final sentence) and it is clear that being the wife of a successful novelist is very central to her identity. Her life on the Upper East Side is ruled by routine and decorum.
At the opening of the novel as she does every morning, Mrs March enters her favourite patisserie where a casual remark changes the course of her life. The manager, Patricia, compliments her on the success of George’s latest novel and asks: “But isn’t this the first time he’s based a character on you?” Mrs. March is shocked as Jessica, the protagonist of the novel, is everything that Mrs. March would never want to be. Yet this idea increasingly plays on her mind, including growing paranoia and eventually psychosis.
Given her rigid routine, Mrs. March was clearly pretty tightly wound before this day and through flashbacks we learn of the secrets of her past as well as witnessing her disintegration in the present.
I found this a fascinating novel that explores the borderlines of madness. The writing is excellent- crisp and evocative, relishing in details. This gives it a cinematic feel. There are also flashes of dark humour as well as wry commentary on New York society and the publishing industry.
While comparisons have been made with Shirley Jackson and Patricia Highsmith, elements of Mrs. Marsh’s carefully curated life reminded me of Patrick Bateman’s fastidiousness in Bret Easton Ellis’ ‘American Psycho’.
The novel appears to take place in an unspecified time period, though mention of a microwave in the Marchs’ kitchen does mean that Mrs. March could be more contemporary than she appears.
I appreciated reading a psychological drama that explores how someone’s mental health can deteriorate very quietly.
Overall, I felt that this was a stunning debut. I will be looking forward to its film adaptation as well as Virginia Feito’s future projects.
An unnerving and claustrophobic read.
Very enjoyable read with an interesting premise. I found the main character likeable and I felt for her.
The book is very detail oriented which I liked.
Married to a successful author, Mrs March is delighted that his latest book is a success. When it is suggested that the book, about a whore, is modeled on her she is horrified. As her life crashes down around her many secrets are exposed. Is she losing her grip on reality? Very entertaining.
Described as Ottessa Moshfegh meets Shirley Jackson, I was intrigued. So pleased to report this is a 5 star fantastic novel. Our protagonist, Mrs March, begins to unravel after her husband’s latest novel appears to have taken inspiration from Mrs March herself. Locked in a high pressure world of keeping up appearances the psychological toll overwhelms her in increasingly terrifying ways.
I loved the pacing of this novel. At its heart it’s a character study with just the right amount of tension without going too off the rails too fast. If Moshfegh’s gross out body horror stuff is a step too far for you, you might find a home with Feito.
The writing was on point. Feito’s observation on how low self esteem can crush a persons spirit was so spot on. There was one passage that genuinely made me laugh out loud at a point I was really not expecting. I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Mrs March is an Upper East Side mother who is married to George, a famous novelist. It’s a comfortable, wealthy life in which she doesn’t have to do very much except supervise her housekeeper, Martha, and go out to buy her beloved olive bread.
In fact, it’s when she’s buying her daily treat in her local store, that her life begins to start unravelling. While serving her, the proprietor asks if the central character in George’s new book, a blowsy prostitute named Johanna, is based on her. Appalled, Mrs March runs from the store, never to return.
It seems as if everyone is talking about the book and she can’t escape it. Excerpts from it are broadcast in a rest room and even she begins to wonder if Johanna is based on her. And so begins Mrs March’s descent from admiring her mint green gloves to suspecting George of murder. A missing girl is found murdered near the cabin where George and his editor go hunting and she starts playing detective. The reader is taken into her world as she organises a glittering book party for George and goes about her life as she searches for another olive bread supplier while believing that complete strangers have stopped to stare and laugh at her. It soon becomes apparent that she is an unreliable narrator and that she is disintegrating mentally and very quickly. When she is served swordfish in a restaurant it appears to blink at her, cockroaches invade the apartment and she always feels that she’s wearing ‘somebody else’s clothes.’ I really admired the convincing way in which the author leads us into Mrs March’s increasingly fractured psyche. The bustling world in which she appears to live is empty, she seems to have little to do all day apart from supervising Martha, and taking care of her son, the strange, withdrawn, Jonathan. I wondered what would happen to him in later life?
Mrs March is reading ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier and in the book the heroine is also called ‘Mrs March’ throughout the book. The reader never learns her Christian name and we only discover this Mrs March’s at the very end. However, a lot goes on under the surface as the reader learns more about her background and what lies beneath. A privileged but icy, detached family life, a long buried and unwelcome sexual encounter in Spain and her adolescent imaginary friend, Kiki, who is based on a girl in a Vermeer painting. She is a woman on fire and I could really sense her rage forcing its way up to the surface. The book is full of very dark, bible black humour which counterbalanced the collapse of the heroine’s life.
The book has been compared to ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and I could understand why. I was also reminded of Roman Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’ in which Catherine Deneuve goes mad in a South Kensington flat in the midst of Swinging London.
An extraordinary debut novel and already one of my favourite books of the year. And what a killer cover! Definitely a writer to watch.
My thanks to Harper Collins/4th Estate Books and Netgalley for an ARC.
Mrs March follows a woman who is told her husband may have used her as the inspiration for an unsavoury character in his latest novel, and her descent into madness afterwards.
This novel was outstanding and I loved every part of it. I am not surprised this story is going to be made into a movie, it had a very cinematrographical narrative. I personally understood the confusion about the time period as the author's way to show Mrs. March was an eccentric character.
Disclosure: I would like to thank the publisher and author for my advanced review copy of the book. This is my honest review
What an absolutely addictive read! Deeply dark, deadpan and twisty, let yourself get caught up in Mrs March’s mind and enjoy the ride.
So who is Mrs March? Well, she’s an affluent New Yorker who is very concerned about what others think of her and always keeps up appearances at all times – no matter what is happening. She lives in a swish Upper East Side apartment with her young son Jonathan and her husband George, an author whose new book is a huge success.
Many people think that the lead character of George’s book – Johanna – is inspired by Mrs March, this would be wonderful except Johanna is described as essentially an unlikeable prostitute. Mrs March feels humiliated, although her husband never quite admits she was his inspiration, she now doubts him and his possible motives.
We follow Mrs March as she goes about her day-to-day business; keeping out of her housekeeper Martha’s way, buying bread, trying to ascertain if her husband is a murderer, you know, the normal things.
We get deep into Mrs March’s brain in a very close character study and the tone and clever writing mean often you are not sure if the things she is experiencing are real or not. From her imaginary childhood friends, to her certainty that her husband is up to no good, you have to keep turning those pages to find out where Mrs March’s thoughts are going to jump to next.
I assume this story is set in the modern day but there is never a reference to say, a mobile phone or Google or things that would definitely place it in the now. The way Mrs March is ALWAYS referred to as such (we only learn her first name at the end) and the lives of the rich New York elite could be now, or could easily be, for example, the 1970s. This ambiguity certainly works to enhance the general sense of paranoia and unease that consumes Mrs March.
Deliciously dark, deadpan – some lines had me laughing out loud – while also taking a look at the dangers of isolation and the power of delusions and vivid imaginations. It definitely had echoes of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh and a wonderful Gothic twist at the end too. A brilliant read!
I really can't believe this is a debut. Mrs March feels almost Hitchcockian, the reader is kept in high suspense right from beginning to end. No matter what the title character sees or thinks she sees, hears or thinks she hears we are there alongside, not at all certain ourselves. I agreed to this publisher ARC on the strength of the story being optioned as a forthcoming project from Elizabeth Moss because there is no denying she is an actress who chooses interesting parts. I honestly can't wait to see this book come to life, it already leaps off the page and I genuinely don't think anyone else would have done it justice. I also don't know what Virginia Feito may turn her hand to next but whatever it is, I'm happy to have another go.
This stellar debut novel by Spanish author Virginia Feito tells the story of Upper East Side housewife Mrs March, who begins to unravel when she suspects that the detestable protagonist in her writer husband’s latest novel is based on her.
It’s a thriller noir, set in New York in some unspecified pre-technology period of time (in my head it was 1950s/60s though it could be earlier/later?).
I was drawn in from the first page and found it totally unputdownable. It was one of those books that I wanted to pick up every spare few minutes that I had. It’s a masterpiece in character writing.
The atmosphere is claustrophobic and unsettling. The reader lives and breathes Mrs March and her insidious paranoia (she is referred to as Mrs March throughout the book - we only find out her name on the last page, which I loved). The descriptions of her clothing, her apartment and NYC are cinematic and redolent of another era.
Superbly executed, I actually gasped while reading it 😯. The humour is wickedly dark. If you’re a fan of a slow burn character-driven psychological thriller, pick this one up when it’s published next month. If you love Mad Men, Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock, this will be right up your street.
If you’ve followed me a while, you’ll know I don’t give many 5 stars (maybe one a month), but this one is certainly worthy. 5/5 ⭐️
**Mrs March will be published on 11 August 2021. I read an advance digital copy of this book courtesy of the publishers @4thestatebooks via @netgalley (thanks to the publisher and author for the copy). As always, this is an honest review.**
The book starts off innocently enough, with Mrs March shopping for a book launch party for her husband, George’s latest novel. At her favourite patisserie, the assistant unwittingly suggests that the protagonist of George’s novel, Johanna, an ageing prostitute, depicted as a grotesque, shares many of Mrs March’s mannerisms.
We learn that Mrs March’s childhood was lonely and emotionally cold, despite its privilege and she, in turn, is negligent and detached from her only child, Jonathan. We also hear that her first sexual experience was of rape, which clearly triggers a response when she sees a clipping of a raped and murdered girl in the area where George has been staying
I loved this darkly comic novel with its at times sympathetic, at times repellent, female antihero. While the ironic take on the respectable, privileged uptown New York wife was amusing, the novel also palpably portrayed the woman's sadness, lack of identity and sense of isolation. A modern day classic.
Mrs March is a superbly haunting read that i demolished with an ever increasing dread, beautifully atmospheric. Mrs March is the ultimate unreliable narrator as we are taken on an intimate journey of self destruction with her inner voice, seeing her paranoia, anxieties and dissociative behaviours playing out on those around her with devastating consequences.
Both darkly funny and unrelentingly sad the characters are beautifully drawn creating a very engaging, almost dream like novel. A very clever read, one that will stay with me for a long time.
This highly accomplished book has the makings of a modern classic. The eponymous heroine, Mrs March, is the stay at home wife of a highly acclaimed novelist. Evidently snobbish, highly introspective, privileged and judgemental of other people, she is seemingly nudged into psychosis and madness by a casual remark by a reader of her husband’s latest book that the heroine is based on her, a comparison that could not be more unflattering. For Mrs March, whose first name is not revealed until the end, her identity and way of life are inextricably linked to her being the wife of a famous novelist, though significantly, she is a younger second wife who he married after an affair. Obsessed with status and living an unfulfilled life, she interprets the unravelling of her life and unusual events around her in a highly paranoid way indicative of an overactive imagination. The setting, the formality of her always being referred to as Mrs March and her mindset makes you think of it as set in a pre-feminist era, yet there are other features that place it firmly in a much later era. A book to return to and a great book for a book club discussion.
Mrs March is not one of those books you read and put back on the bookshelf. It's one of those that you keep thinking about long after. It's quite dark and anxiety based and disturbing. I did feel for Mrs March when she heard what was being said about her and it all spiralled out of control. I enjoyed it very much the author had me gripped to know how it all unfolds
What a fascinating read! Beneath the glamour lies a harrowing tale of secrets and psychosis that thrilled me to the end. Excellently written, I'm looking forward to more from this author. Thanks for the ARC!
While buying olive bread at her favourite patisserie, Mrs March is asked how she feels about being the inspiration for her husband's latest book. Mrs March hasn't read it but when she skims through it she finds that the protagonist is a fat ugly whore who no one wants to sleep with. She says nothing about this to her husband but becomes increasingly paranoid and insecure, thinking all the time that everyone is laughing at her behind her back. She also becomes obsessed with the idea that her husband has murdered a young woman and sets out to prove it.
Anyone who has ever suffered from social anxiety will recognise the tortured thinking of Mrs March. Her agonising over what to do and say in the most simple of situations is excruciating. We are not told when the story takes place but it has a real feel of the sixties about it. Mrs March has never worked. She can't even say she is a housewife because they have a housekeeper who does everything, from changing the sheets to making the dinner. She is a mother but her relationship with her son isn't warm.
I loved this book. It's brilliantly written and Mrs March is an unforgettable character. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
The fact that you can never really know anyone haunts Mrs March after an offhand comment from the assistant at her favourite bakery, suggesting that Mrs March's husband based the unlikeable protagonist of his latest bestselling novel on herself, and leads to her seemingly dignified life unravelling at an alarming pace. I loved this darkly comic novel with its at times sympathetic, at times repellent, female antihero. While the ironic take on the respectable, privileged uptown New York wife was amusing, the novel also palpably portrayed the woman's sadness, lack of identity and sense of isolation. A modern day classic.
Mrs March is alarmed when her favourite baker tells her how much the main character of her husband’s bestselling new novel resembles her. She’s not read the book but further investigation leads her to understand that Johanna is a plain, fat whore no one wants to bed. Despite her fury, Mrs March dutifully arranges the celebration party for George’s success, passing almost unnoticed among her husband’s friends and colleagues, in a welter of embarrassment at the whispers about her she’s sure she overhears. Beset at every turn by the judgement and gossip of others, or so she thinks, Mrs March begins to unravel in spectacular fashion.
Feito tells her darkly funny story from Mrs March’s perspective. Her paranoid social awkwardness is excruciating, her ineptitude at even the smallest task painful: without her husband she’s no idea how to be. All this is delivered with a good deal of sly wit but as her imaginings become increasingly febrile and her grip on reality slips further, the tone becomes more sombre. A witty, gripping debut which lives up to its splendid jacket hinting at something nasty as a cockroach makes its way towards the elegantly attired Mrs March's carefully manicured hands.
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