You’ve heard it before: every marriage or relationship has its ups and downs. Its lows and highs. Its triumphs and failures. And its secrets. But this month’s book asks us, “What makes a ‘good marriage?'”
In A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, several couples in a wealthy New York City borough find themselves (and their marriages) under the microscope. A woman is found dead, her husband is arrested and charged in her murder, and all are left to wonder what went wrong.
We start by meeting Lizzie Kitsakis. She is an attorney at a private and fast-paced law firm in the city, although she is not employed there by choice. Her husband has a drinking problem that has led to financial woes for the couple, and Lizzie left her federal prosecutor career for higher pay and demanding hours. It is a blight on their marriage, yet both do not address it. Like all the couples in this book, there are fissures in her marriage that Lizzie refuses to see.
While working late at the office, she receives a phone call from Rikers Island prison. It is an old college friend who needs a lawyer. Zach Grayson has been accused of murdering his wife Amanda, and he tells Lizzie that she is the only person who can help him. She reluctantly agrees to take his case (she is not a criminal defense lawyer), and she believes that Zach is innocent.
But as she dives into the case and learns more about their lives, she begins to doubt Zach.
The Graysons live in Park Slope, a wealthy neighborhood in New York City. Everyone there seems to be living the perfect, upper-class life: their children attend the prestigious Brooklyn Country Day School, they own beautiful homes, and they live their lives seemingly without a care in the world. The only problem this community appears to have is a security breach of the school’s data (which plays havoc with many people’s lives). It is presented as a bubble from the usual troubles of a neighborhood, so how could such a terrible crime occur here?
Amanda is found dead at the bottom of her stairs in her home. It is a gruesome discovery during the annual “Sleepaway Soiree,” an annual party at her friends Maude and Sebe’s home. This party, held while all the children are away at summer camps or vacations, is a night for all the attendees to let loose with booze, gossip, and trysts upstairs. Spouses are allowed to swap and have intimate relations with someone else, just for the night. So even before getting to know the other couples in this book, you can see that their marriages are not as “perfect” as we might have assumed.
Everyone is shocked by Amanda’s death. But several of her closest friends are also suspects.
There is Maude, her friend and host of the party. Her husband was seen following Amanda upstairs during the party. Could it have been jealousy?
Her friend Sarah works with her at the foundation started by Amanda and Zach. Were there problems with their friendship or the business?
Amanda’s estranged father is also a suspect. She has a troubled history with him and left home at an early age. She felt she was being watched in the weeks before her murder; did her father find her?
There is also Sam, Lizzie’s husband. He was in the Park Slope neighborhood that night but has no recollection of his actions due to intoxication. Could he have made another huge mistake?
Zach is the perfect suspect. On the outside, their marriage appears to be picture perfect. Lizzie discovers that their marriage is more of an arrangement, and Zach is more sinister than she could have imagined.
This novel dives deep into deceit, secrets, marriage, and family dynamics. There are so many players and events that intertwine into an edge of your seat murder mystery. Carol Memmott summed it up nicely in her Washington Post article:
The real mystery, though, is not the identity of the killer, but the answer to that age old question about solid marriages. The wives and husbands toss around enough cliches to fill a king-size marital bed…Sarah, maybe, tosses off the truest of all: ‘A good marriage is the one that survives. And none of us will know that until all is said and done.’ The same goes for the identity of Amanda’s killer. You will never see it coming.
Who killed Amanda Grayson? And is anyone who they appear to be? You will have to read A Good Marriage to find out.
If anything is clear from this fictional tale, it is that a good marriage is never what it seems.
Thanks for reading with us! Come back next month as we dive into Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner. Also, find us on Facebook and Instagram at @milmcbookclub!