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The Husbands by Chandler Baker

A review by Nalini Haynes

Nora is a full-time lawyer, has one child at home and another on the way. Meanwhile, her husband Hayden pulls a disappearing act or wants to be directed then applauded if he does anything inside the house. Nora wants a larger house to accommodate their growing family so they look at a house in an affluent suburban neighborhood. Over dinner with their potential new neighbors, they meet the husbands who are all unequivocally supportive of their wives. And Nora is encouraged to act on behalf of Penny with regards to the wrongful death of her husband.

Stepford Wives

While I try to avoid learning too much about a novel before I read it for review, I had the strong impression this was going to be a role reversal of the Stepford Wives. However, I was not prepared for the inbuilt sociology, the realism, in this story. Nor was I prepared for my reaction to Nora’s dilemma. The Husbands may, at first glance, appear to start with an old trope but Baker takes it to a new level.

The verdict

While Nora investigated the murder and Hayden pissed me off, I waited for the big reveal. How do so many women inspire such supportive husbands? The part of me that, back in 1993, had to look after the children after hallucinating from a high fever overnight, wanted to move straight in with these amazing women. The issues Baker incorporates are so real. Nora’s investigation becomes fraught. Her dilemma will have honest readers divided, even filled with self-conflict. The Husbands is a riveting read. I highly recommend it.

If you love The Husbands, you’ll also love The Therapist by Helene Flood (review coming in the next couple of days at this link).

Book details

Rating: 6 out of 5 stars (not a typo)
Trade ISBN: 9780733642746
Ebook ISBN: 9780733642753
Audiobook ISBN: 9780733642739
Imprint: Hachette Australia
Released: 2021
Category: social issues, suspense

The husbands: a flame backgrounds the title and author's name, which are surrounded by a stylised painting of a suburb from above

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.