The Second Bride: A NetGalley Review

I made a promise to myself this year to stay true to my Galley reviews. I am still learning ins and outs of NetGalley, but I think I have finally understood a few of them them. So, this is my review of a NetGalley book named as “The Second Bride”.


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Very rarely one comes across such a bleak book as this, bleak not in terms of writing, but bleak in terms of the events it showcases. There is certain hopelessness in the storylines. There is no villain in the story as such, but there are only people, relationships and the life that is just difficult.

But before I start the review, a small summary of the book:

Summary in my words

The Second Bride is the book which works in two storylines. The first storyline is of Ellen who is living in “our” time. This is the second marriage for both Ellen and husband, and they both have a daughter from their previous marriages. They also have a daughter together named Sophie(It sounds confusing here, but it is not confusing in the book at all!)

Ellen feels that she is in a perfect marriage. Her attic has been newly fixed where she could work now, and she believes she will be able to give all the time to her work and family. But all her plans are unraveled when her Husband’s daughter from the previous marriage, Annabelle, comes home. She tries to make a home for her, but Annabelle is never able to adapt. Slowly, Ellen realizes what she thought was a perfectly happy family is slowly unraveling.

The second story starts when Ellen finds a death certificate at her home during renovation of attic. This death certificate belonged to our second character, Sarah. Sarah lived in time much before and had a lot of tragedy befall on her. This story covers how she takes care of her sister (Autistic in current times, but feeble mind in that time) and herself in her bleak circumstances. Sarah also end up becoming a second wife to a well-to-do clerk who already has a daughter.

Both the stories mirror themselves in terms of the family strife and yet they are quite different with each other. Both the step-mothers try to make adjustments with their husband’s daughter and have a kind of difficult relationship. Their personal life aggravates because of these difficulties.

What I liked

  • Suspense: The story has a bit of suspense about what is going to happen that made me turn the pages and kept me interested in the book.
  • Topics touched upon: The author touches upon topics like suicide, the workhouses of past etc. and weaves them into the story. I thought it was a brave attempt for the story.

What I disliked

  • Bleakness of the story: As I said above, the story is too bleak for my taste. There is nary a single ray of happiness. The small burst of happiness that comes at the end seem forced to me. Every person in the story is so burdened by the darkness that I felt hopeless after reading the whole story. Probably this is a personal issue, but that bothered me. A lot.
  • Ending: I did not like the way the story was ended. The about turn and the remorse that was showcased in the end did not resonate with me.
  • Characters: I think that was where the problem started for me with the characters. I just could not relate to them. Ellen is the main character, but she is forever in her own head. I mean she does not believe in the communication, but rather thinks a lot. This is quite natural, but I just could not get into the thought process.

Overall review

Being a second wife or second husband cannot be easy for anyone. The story tries to capture those difficulties in the mix of modern and Gothic settings. The book might serve beautifully for some other readers, but it failed to captivate me. I was indeed mildly interested in knowing what the author wanted to say, but beyond that the book did not appeal to me much.


For this book only I feel like inventing half the star because then it could be two and half stars, but for now, I will rate it 2 stars.

Two Stars





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