Thursday, September 8, 2022

Review: Mrs. March, by Virginia Feito


Various people have described Mrs. March as a cross between Ottessa Moshfegh and John Cheever, or Ottessa Moshfegh and Patricia Highsmith, but I'm going to take it up a notch and say it's a cross between Ottessa Moshfegh and Shirley Jackson.

Because it's more of a horror novel than anything else.

Set in affluent Upper West Side Manhattan (I think?) at an uncertain date, Mrs. March tells the story of one very disturbed housewife. Mrs. March, whose first name we learn only at the very end of the book, is married to George, a successful author and her former professor. They have a young son but the whole setup is set in uncertainty. We don't know exactly how old she is, or much more about her at all. The novel sort of reads like upside-down Virginia Woolf where our protagonist is trying to go about the mundane tasks of her life while tamping down some terror that she just can't face.

George has just released a new book and Mrs. March is convinced that the main character was based on her- and not in a good way. She feels humiliated, scrutinized and pitied; this eats away at her until she becomes convinced that he is involved in the murder of a young woman in the town where he fishes. At the same time that she is slowly going insane she is also trying to plan a party and raise her son and deal with a cockroach infestation and and and.

It's kind of bonkers. It has Moshfegh's insularity and Cheever's affluent New York milieu and Jackson's slow burning dread. And it has a unique momentum of its own.

I don't know if I liked the book or not; I definitely wanted to finish reading it to find out where it all ends up. I'd recommend it to readers who like any of the authors I've mentioned- Moshfegh, Jackson, Highsmith, Cheever- and anyone who wants a good psychologically scary read. The blood may not come till the end but you know from page one it's coming.

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