Publication Date: 6/28/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Swan Huntley delivers a twisty debut WE COULD BE BEAUTIFUL — an electrifying psychological and domestic mystery suspense mix of dark family secrets, greed, money, lies, and betrayal.
Catherine West, age 43 years old, has everything anyone woman could want or desire. Wealth, homes, business, clothes, and beauty. She primarily lives off a trust fund from her father, with a robust monthly amount, more than most earn in a year.
She even volunteers and gives to the needy. The posh Manhattanite lacks what she really wants. Despite her good deeds, and good fortune, she feels incomplete. She wants a man who loves her and a family. Children. It was not for a lack of trying. She had been engaged twice but it never worked out. She feels like a failure.
One night she promised her girlfriend she would attend a Gala for Contemporary Folk Art and meets an older distinguished man, William Stockton. He even knew their family and appears he has money, class, charm, and looks.
They share so many of the same things. He is sophisticated and enjoys the finer things of life; art and culture. Could he be too good to be true? Maybe now she does not have to worry about him liking her for her money, if he has his own.Or does he?
Catherine’s mom has Alzheimer’s and had progressed to the point where the task of living alone was beyond her. For a while she had caretakers, but her mother could be difficult and was unable to keep anyone long term.
Catherine and her sister Caroline decided to put her in a home, which turned out positive with other friends her own age. They had sold the apartment and her mom had enough to live comfortably with her health and financial needs cared for.
Something is a little off with William. She is unsure. He was careful, confident, familiar, strange, and he was exactly what she had been waiting for. Classy, smart, fashionable, and practical. Or so she thinks. What about his past?
When Catherine brings up William’s name to her mom, she is very disturbed. Her mom’s reaction bothers her, but she was not sure she could trust her. Even pre-Alzheimer’s she had a tendency to express hatred for others, for no apparent reason. She was extremely judgmental. Back in her day she was charming but intimidating, even to her staff.
Possibly she was just confused.
In the meantime, things heat up with William. He moved in two weeks later and then engaged rather quickly. They settled into a routine. Could they be beautiful together?
When she shows her mom the ring and informs her she is getting married, she seemed upset again. Her face is twisted and nostrils flaring. Catherine is so desperate for a happily ever after, she ignores her mother, and her fears. She puts it all aside and moves forward.
William is bothered when Catherine is going through childhood photos. A note, a diary. Her old nanny. Can she trust her? Things are getting very confusing to her.
She receives bad news about her trust. The money is not what she thought. Then there is the will. Her mom had donated the sale of the house, the art, and money to charity and museums before she lost her mind to her illness. Now, what will she do? No more money. Could William save her?
Now, you "must" read to find out the juicy details, and the dark twisted secrets!
"Denial, I have learned, is not the act of lying to yourself. Denial is not an act, it‘s a state. It’s the state of not knowing you are a liar.” I was fixated on a certain picture of my life, and that picture was reflected on the surface of everything I saw. We do not choose to be blind, and when we are blind, we don’t know that. We see as much as we can bear to see, and we assumed that’s all there is.”
What comes in Part Two and Three is Mind-Blowing!Catherine finds herself questioning everyone around her. Delicious scandalous dark secrets!
Razor sharp, haunting, contemporary, and psychologically astute. With clever shocking twists and turns, vivid descriptions, mixed with humor—Huntley grabs you and takes you for a wild ride.
The diaries/journals/letters between Mae (nanny) and Catherine’s mom, are nicely done from the seventies. A nice twist with the Alzheimer’s, adding an unreliable intriguing mood.
What is real beauty? What we see in people, places, things, and our lives? Sometimes we do crazy things, tangled in a maze, and take detours in our lives, in order to land on the right path.
Fans of Paula Daly, Liane Moriarty, and Heather Gudenkauf will enjoy the complex psychological twists. Well-developed characters, and smartly plotted; hard to believe, this is a debut! Can’t wait to see what comes next. Huntley is a talented author to follow.
Highly entertaining! A great summer escape.