I was thrilled when publisher Michael Joseph invited me to read The Marriage Pact via Netgalley ahead of the paperback release on 14 December, and despite my best intentions to reduce my TBR, I didn’t think twice about downloading this title!
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter…
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
Part of what attracted me to The Marriage Pact was its premise. Given that divorce rates seem to be ever increasing, I can see why the idea of joining a club that will guarantee a successful marriage would be appealing, particularly as Jake and Alice are approached in the days immediately leading up to and following on from their wedding and honeymoon – the days before their lives return to normal and while the feeling of being married is still fresh and exciting. I also loved that Jake, as a marriage councillor, is able to drop in little factoids about marriage and divorce throughout the novel. I found these snippets to be really interesting, and I felt that they added to the story brilliantly. In a way, it seems to justify their decision to join this exclusive club, when the reader can see that it’s maybe not the panacea that it’s been sold as.
And to begin with, The Pact is everything they hoped it would be. A group of like-minded individuals who are successful, live comfortably, and throw elegant parties in their lavish houses, and welcome Jake and Alice into their fold. It doesn’t take long for certain elements of The Pact make both Jake and Alice a little uncomfortable, however. As you’d expect, this starts out with little things, which taken individually aren’t all that alarming, but that build up and gradually take a more sinister turn, particularly as they begin to experience some of the punishments that go along with not adhering to The Pact, and this became quite a dark novel by the end!
I think that many novels such as this are written from the perspective of a female, and I found it interesting that Richmond chose to tell The Marriage Pact from the perspective of Jake rather than Alice. It works really well though, particularly as it is Jake who feels more insecure about their marriage and its longevity. Indeed, part of the reason that Jake proposed was because he felt that Alice might become bored and / or leave him. Similarly, he is (almost absurdly) grateful that she is willing to commit to The Pact, and therefore their marriage, taking it as a reassurance that she does love him. The reader has more insight into Alice’s point of view and understands her more, but I enjoyed reading about a situation in which elements that are often used as gender stereotypes were reversed, and felt that this was done successfully.
The Marriage Pact has a fascinating premise, and found this to be an entertaining and gripping story. The Marriage Pact is available now in digital and hardback formats, and will be released in paperback on 14 December. Many thanks to Michael Joseph and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this title.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐