Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement.

the husbandsLauren returns home from a night out to find a strange man in her home. That’s not the only thing that’s odd, her flat is painted a different colour and there’s a wedding photo, only she’s not married. The photo shows her wedding day and the man beside her is the intruder. Who came from the attic. When the husband goes back into the attic to change the lightbulb, another husband comes back out.

“Hey. Welcome to the landing.” It turns out you can just say that to a husband and usually he’ll accept it.

I love a good multiverse story, and essentially that’s what The Husbands is. Each time a husband goes in the attic, Lauren ends up in a slightly different reality, with a different husband. Someone she has chosen but does not know (most of the time), and with that brings forced intimacy and things that annoy her, things that clearly wouldn’t matter if this was someone she loved. I thought this was an interesting angle as I’m sure every one of us in long-term relationships put up with things that would have been off-putting if they happened on a first date. Maybe even quirks we’ve come to love.

Lauren goes through husband after husband, some she likes, many she doesn’t. Off back into the attic they go. But in some realities her life is too different, her job or her friends have changed, and she actually liked her original life.

She doesn’t always like the new versions of herself, but they help her understand the edges of who she might be.

It feels like a statement on modern dating. Historically, many people settled on good enough, which has evolved over time into a desire to find The One. If you get infinite chances, with no consequences for messing it up, the urge to keep going is strong. But maybe Lauren just needs to find one that’s good enough and return to a normal life.

I think her rapid swapping of husbands might be a hint at Tinder too. Though instead of swiping, sometimes she has quite the ordeal trying to get the current husband back into the attic.

You can’t stay married to someone for ever just because they climb out of your attic one afternoon.

Fun and sometimes lonely, The Husbands was an entertaining read, and I’d thoroughly recommend.

The Husbands is published by Chatto & Windus and will be available from 4th April 2024 in hardback, ebook and audiobook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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