The Last Mrs. Parrish: Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs. Parrish, a tale of betrayal, adultery and revenge is the debut novel from sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine (pen name = Liv Constantine).  This page-turner is already being compared to Gone Girl which probably guarantees sales, but it is an unfortunate comparison for this reader as Gone Girl pissed me off more than anything else.

That said, expect The Last Mrs Parrish to make it to either a TV series or film. And who would I cast for the lead stars … well more of that later.

the last mrs parrish

Approximately the first half of the novel is told from the view of Amber Patterson, a young women who moves to the affluent area of Bishop’s Harbor, Connecticut with the sole goal of seducing a billionaire international real estate magnate in his 40s, Jackson Parrish. Amber, and that’s a fake name by the way, has done her research. She knows all about the Parrish family, how much they are worth, what they own and what their interests are. It doesn’t matter to Amber that Jackson is married with two children. In fact, Amber uses Jackson’s wife, Daphne, a woman who runs a charity foundation for Cystic Fibrosis, to worm her way into the lives of the Parrish family. Soon Amber is Daphne’s friend, and she pretends to like Daphne’s two little girls in order to get invited to family events.

Amber has her work cut out for her. Pencil-thin Daphne is gorgeous, educated, elegant, and an overall nice person, and what’s more, Jackson Parrish appears to adore his wife. But Amber conducts a ferocious, single-minded, obsessive campaign to hunt and bag Jackson. At first she dresses plainly but gradually moves to tarty as she gets closer to Jackson.

The strength of the novel lies is Amber’s tart, vindictive self-justified POV:

Amber leaned forward and did her best to look interested while she calculated the total worth of the diamonds on Daphne’s ears, the tennis bracelet on her wrist, and the huge diamond on her tanned and perfectly manicured finger. She must have had at least a hundred grand walking around on her size-four body, and all she could do was whine about her sad childhood. Amber suppressed a yawn and gave Daphne a tight smile.

And then there’s her malicious, brooding resentment of the two little girls

Once she was Mrs Parrish, those two brats were on borrowed time. They could go to community college as far as she was concerned. 

It can be tough to create sympathy for characters who are so wealthy they are removed from the cares most readers share, but the authors initially create Daphne as viewed by a conscienceless predator. Even though we don’t get to see Daphne’s first person narration until the second half of the novel, Amber’s vicious intentions are so vile (she wears Daphne’s perfume and takes her underwear,) you can’t help but see Daphne as an Everywoman walking right towards her own destruction. When the novel switches to Daphne, the novel loses some of its power which just goes to prove that ‘nice’ people are far less interesting than nasty ones. We all love someone we can hate, and the character of Amber keeps the reader turning those pages. While I regretted the loss of the novel’s momentum as Daphne took the helm, I was committed to the bitter, bitter end of this one.

Angelina Jolie as Daphne Patterson. Alexander Skarsgård as Jackson Parrish. Can’t decide who should play Amber–arguably the most difficult role. (But I’m still thinking about it.)

Review copy


Filed under Constantine Liv, Fiction

15 responses to “The Last Mrs. Parrish: Liv Constantine

  1. Well, if Angelina Jolie is the nice one, I am stuck with whom you could cast as the ‘dangerous’ one… Actually, I quite liked Gone Girl, but I really dislike all the hype surrounding it.

  2. *chuckle* I see the words ‘miserable marriages’ getting ever bigger in your tag cloud!

  3. How about Andrea Riseborough for the role of Amber? She’s pretty versatile.

    My first thought was Elle Fanning (loved her in Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled), but she might be too young for this one?

  4. Just had another thought: Elisabeth Moss. It could be a great role for her.

  5. Elle Fanning doesn’t look like my image of Amber but the other two would work.

  6. I really hope that there are no Ambers in real life but that’s a futile thought. Of course such vile people exist.

    A younger Isabelle Huppert is my vision of Amber. (or Isabelle Adjani)

  7. This sounds really good. Way better than Gone Girl.
    I wonder if the novel didn’t just lose appeal because of the POV change. I’ve grown tired of those chnages lately. It’s OK if a story is told by different people but if it’s a major switch, containg a twist, I’m not that into it.

    • I know what you mean about POV changes. I’m getting to the point that I’m finding it lazy. The thing is that Amber’s voice is so venomous, you can’t help but chuckle at it. But Daphne’s voice just doesn’t have the punch.

  8. It does distinctly sound a book of two halves, and one where the film would probably be fine.

    What was wrong with Gone Girl out of interest? I was never tempted to read it.

    • SPOILER: although everyone’s probably read it except you. half of it is written as a journal from Amy (this is from memory and since the book annoyed me when I was done, this may not be accurate). later you find out she made shit up. So the journal is misleading. She writes it deliberately so that it will look as though hubbie off’d her. So we are deceived along w hubbie.

  9. Rochelle David

    I picture Margot Robbie as Daphne and Dakota Johnson as Amber.

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