In this book Grace is a happily married therapist and the mother of one child in Manhattan. After hearing couple after couple in her years of sitting in the therapist’s chair, she has become frustrated with the same narrative she hears over and over.
This leads her to write a book called “You Should Have Known.”
Her premise is that a woman should have picked up on the nuances her future husband shows her before she even marries him. Thus, she should have known what he was like and she should have walked away.
According to Grace, there is no victim in this scenario.
She feels that it is our impulse to negate our own impressions that is so powerful, that we don’t acknowledge our instincts.
She is sitting in her office telling all this to a reporter from Vogue magazine.
“Look,” she tells the young woman interviewing her just before her book comes out, “I’ve been in practice for fifteen years. Over and over I’ve heard women describe their early interactions with their partner, and their early impressions of their partner.
“And listening to them, I continually thought: You knew right at the beginning. She knows he’s never going to stop looking at other women. She knows he can’t save money…” And on and on.
She is confident in her theory on this subject.
In her private life, Grace is married to Jonathan, a dedicated and renowned pediatric oncologist. They have one son, Henry, who is 12.
Grace and Jonathan have been married for nearly 20 very happy years, and she commends herself on her choice.
But then suddenly Grace can’t get hold of Jonathan, who told her he was going to yet another oncology conference…somewhere in the Midwest? She forgets, there are so many. Ohio maybe?
In just a few days, Grace’s seemingly perfect life comes apart at the seams. One of the mothers from her son’s prestigious school, Malaga Alves, is murdered.
Grace barely knew her, had only been in one meeting with her. Where she brought her baby daughter, and to the group’s dismay, unearthed her breasts and nursed the baby in full view.
Yet the police are at her door. Where is her husband? Well, was it Ohio? She doesn’t know, she tells them. She’d tried to get in touch with him the last few days, but he’d forgotten and left his cell phone at home. She tries not to show them the fear she already feels about how this is not customary protocol for Jonathan.
The police believe that Jonathan had had a relationship with the woman, had in fact impregnated her with her infant daughter, and killed her. He seems to have fled.
I won’t give up any more of the story. I’ll just say this: everything she thought she knew about her beloved husband was a lie. The stories of his sad childhood, which was why she was so proud of him for his achievements as a dedicated doctor. His life at his work place, his devotion to her and their family.
All lies spun into an intricate web of deceit.
And so now, she finds herself in a dilemma, for she should have known. And somehow she had not paid attention to the signs when she met him and fell in love.
You Should Have Known has many twists and turns. Korelitz is a great writer, and manages to inject humor and much about life in the big city into the story. She seems very adept at creating compelling characters and molding them into people we can almost see and hear.
Altogether, aside from a couple of slow spots, this one is a great read if you like psychological thrillers. I will be looking for more of her novels.
Jean Hanff Korelitz is the author of previous novels: Admission, Interference Powder, The White Rose, The Sabbathday River, and A Jury Of Her Peers.
She has also written for Vogue, Real Simple, More, Newsweek and Travel & Leisure, among other publications.