It took me so long to hate him.
The Echo Wife
by Sarah Gailey
“The way I see it, you mostly stop loving a person the same way you stop respecting them. It can happen all at once if something enormous and terrible falls over the two of you. But for the most part, it happens in inches. In a thousand tiny moments of contempt that unravel the image you had of the person you thought you knew.”―
Sarah Gailey, The Echo wife
I’m embarrassed, still, by how long it took me to notice. Everything was right there in the open, right there in front of me, but it still took me so long to see the person I had married.
It took me so long to hate him.
Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be.
And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.
Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and both Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up.
Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty.
The Echo Wife by author Sarah Gailey is a story that so many people who have been in relationships understand. Love can be sloppy; it can be messy and painful. Sarah takes what could have been a typical romantic triangle type of story and puts a beautiful science fiction twist on it. What happens when your husband leaves you for another woman? And what if that woman happens to be your clone?
“The floor was well polished.
Dragging him across it wasn’t hard at all.”
Evelyn Caldwell is successful, brilliant, and driven. She is everything her husband wants…almost. Evelyn is a brilliant research scientist, a pioneer in cloning technology that allows clones not to be just physiological copies but also copies of personalities. Her personal life is very much unlike her professional life. She is calculating and brilliant; at home, she is standoffish with her husband, Nathan. She gets frustrated with him. But then Nathan dies in questionable circumstances, and things get messy, especially when Martine comes into play.
There are things that Evelyn doesn’t know. Nathan has left her for another woman, but that woman, Martine, is a copy of her. Not only that, but Nathan has used the Caldwell method, a method that Evelyn developed to weed out what he thinks of were undesirable personality traits. It has a very Stepford Wives meets Frankenstein gone wild feel to it. The death of Nathan causes a weird alliance with Martine, her clone. There is a love triangle aspect to the story, sure. But more importantly, Gailey takes the unlikely buddy crime story and turns it on its ear.
“He was relieved to have told me. He transmuted his guilt into my anger and now I was the one who had to carry it and he had the audacity to be relieved.”
I know what you are thinking; the premise of this sounds like a science-fiction soap opera. In lesser hands, the story could have come off that way. But Sarah Gailey is a brilliant writer, and instead of contrived science fiction nonsense, we get a deep intellectual story about relationships. Are we nature or nurture? Would we have come out the same had we lived in different circumstances? According to Gailey, the answers to that are way more complicated.
The story is dark and intelligent. I love that Gailey got me thinking. I think a mark of any good science fiction novel is when you are thinking about it long after the story has ended. And to be sure, I spent a long thinking about the characters and some of the philosophical questions they write about in The Echo Wife.
“There were other holes scattered through the yard, shallow ones, and I realized that she must have been searching for the boundaries of her discovery—trying to see if her entire garden was planted on a necropolis.”
Also, the story is packed! It is a significant idea and premise that has been condensed down to raw writing and emotions. There is not an ounce of flouncing around with swirly dialect and unnecessary scenes. The story is tight, and the dialog is crisp. Exactly what should happen in a story of this length.
Once again, I am deeply affected by the skill of author Sarah Gailey. I think that if you love interesting philosophical questions and a unique story around cloning, this is a good fit for you.
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Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter