Monday, August 11, 2014

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

I borrowed You Should Have Known from the library thanks to Swistle’s review. When I picked it up I noticed that on the cover the book’s described as a ’psychological thriller’ which made my heart pound and panic, until my head said, “Calm down, Heart. What’s your favourite book of all time?” and my heart said, “We Need to Talk about Kevin,” and my head said, “…?” and my heart said, “?!” and my head said, “And how do you think that book would be described?” and my heart realised, “Hey! Maybe I actually like reading psychological thrillers! Thanks, Head!” and my head said “No worries” and then there was an awkward silence until I stepped in and asked, “So, do I read You Should Have Known?” and my head and heart both said “Yes.” So I read it over the weekend.

You Should Have Known is about a psychotherapist named Grace who writes a book based on her theory that no relationship breakdown is a complete surprise to the woman involved – if she’d been really listening to what the man was saying from the beginning, she should have known he was a flirt/terrible with money/gay/whatever else and could have picked someone better with whom to share her life, thus saving herself a whole lot of drama. “But how well does Grace know her own husband?” the back cover asks, as ominous music begins to play...

I liked this book. Despite the fact that the story develops slowly and is set in a world I know nothing about (Grace is a New Yorker, to pick just one example), I was hooked fairly early and rather enjoyed the pace. The story is thoroughly and cleverly told, less predictable than I expected, and also far less scary than I feared it would be based on the ‘thriller’ tag; it did keep me awake, but with thoughts of “Hmmm, interesting!” rather than “AARGH, SOMEONE’S COMING TO STAB ME!” This is another novel I want to start up a book club in order to talk about (we can have two meetings now: one for Kevin, and one for You Should Have Known); the book explores the idea of how our relationships (with all people, not just a significant other) are coloured by what’s going on in our own heads, and how we can often get our assumptions wrong. I don’t even know if this is saying too much. 

Read it, and then come to my two-meetings-only book club and let me know what you thought. It’ll be awesome. There’ll be biscuits.


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