Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone (Women’s Contemporary Fiction)
As one of its Kindle First choices for the month of October, Amazon describes this book as psychological suspense involving a scorned wife’s obsession with the other woman, but I disagree. Although the initial chapters provide a promising introduction to the possibilities of how Evelyn, the wife, might seek revenge on her husband and his lover, Juliette, the book is not a thriller. Presented with a complex dilemma involving right and wrong, Evelyn’s primary concern is how the community will view her and her family if the truth comes out. While that might trigger evil, vengeful behavior in a more mean-spirited woman, Evelyn has become complacent over the years. She chooses, instead, to spy on Juliette and falls for Juliette’s husband. At that point things just get messy rather than suspenseful.
Victoria Helen Stone is the pen-name of Victoria Dahl, a popular romance writer, and this is her first book outside the romance genre. Elements of romance and explicit sex scenes exist in this book, but she also does a good job of capturing the fears, confusion, pain, and disillusionment experienced by a woman who is the victim of an unfaithful husband. Evelyn’s self-esteem is non-existent, and she’s extremely vulnerable. Her obsession with Juliette is believable; she needs to know what about this woman could make her psychiatrist husband risk his career, their marriage, their home, and the welfare of their teen-aged son.
The book is written in the third person from Evelyn’s point of view, and the chapters alternate between “Before” and “After” the pivotal event of meeting Juliette’s husband. The backstory told in “Before” chapters slowly illuminates how and why she goes to his art gallery, while the “After” chapters show the consequences of that fateful visit. Unfortunately, the final chapter, called “Now,” is an info-dump that quickly summarizes everything that happens in the weeks after the close of the previous chapter, as though the author just tired of the whole thing, and rather than continue telling the story, she wrapped it up with a “Where is Evelyn Now and How Did She Get There?” conclusion.
Grandma gives Evelyn, After four stars.