The Golden Couple Book Review: Character Map + Spoilers

by Theja Pk
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the golden couple book review

In this honest review, I will dive into The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen so you can decide whether it’s a book you want to read for yourself.

If you have already read it, I have included several thought-provoking book club questions to discuss with your friends and fellow readers.

For me, domestic thrillers have always been about entertainment. After reading a bunch of emotional romantic comedies, I picked this book up for a quick read. While the premise was interesting, I don’t think the execution was the best.

The Golden Couple – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

3.8 out of 5
the golden couple book review - white cover book showing a yellow rose

GENRE: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
PUB DATE: March 3, 2022
TWs: infidelity

An easily readable and entertaining psychological thriller, perfect for those seeking a beach read. However, it is important to suspend your disbelief, and if you have read a lot of other thrillers, you may anticipate some of the twists.

Characters
3 out of 5
Writing
4 out of 5
Plot
3 out of 5
Narration
5 out of 5
Overall Enjoyment
4 out of 5

Pros

fantastic, lively narration

intriguing premise about unconventional therapist

easy to follow writing

light & entertaining read

Cons

lack of character depth

several unanswered plot lines

too many side characters to keep track of

some twists were predictable

Synopsis

the golden couple book review

Wealthy Washington suburbanites Marissa and Matthew Bishop seem to have it all―until Marissa is unfaithful. Beneath their veneer of perfection is a relationship riven by work and a lack of intimacy.

She wants to repair things for the sake of their eight-year-old son and because she loves her husband.

Enter Avery Chambers. Avery is a therapist who lost her professional license. Still, it doesn’t stop her from counseling those in crisis, though they have to adhere to her unorthodox methods. And the Bishops are desperate.

When they glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

Characters

Thrillers often prioritize plot development, resulting in characters lacking emotional depth. In this case, we learn more about the characters’ daily lives rather than understanding what makes them tick.

I was looking forward to a deeper exploration of the characters through their therapy sessions, but this aspect was sacrificed to advance the plot.

Avery

Avery Chambers, our unconventional therapist, is an interesting character. She lost her professional license due to her unorthodox methods of helping her clients. And lost her husband to a terminal illness.

“Grief isn’t linear. It isn’t logical. There’s no structure or civility to it; it grabs you when you least expect it and digs in its nails until you succumb.” 

The steps in her 10-session program are: Confession, Disruption, Escalation, Revelation, Devastation, Confrontation, Exposure, The Test, Reconciliation, and Promises.

Her character felt more like a private investigator than an actual therapist, especially since we don’t get much of the details of the actual therapy sessions. Her ethics are questionable, and she lacks appropriate boundaries.

But her ‘rogue therapist’ characterization made for an entertaining read.

Marissa

Marissa Bishop is the cookie-cutter suburban mother. This author duo provided little complexity to her character beyond that.

Marissa’s infidelity may be a sensitive issue for some readers so be cautious of that.

Side Characters

There are a lot of supporting characters in the story that are used to mislead the reader. While this technique was effective, it was sometimes confusing to keep track of everyone’s relationships with one another.

I created a character map for those who needed help keeping up with characters like I did. However, please note that the character map contains spoilers.

Plot

The pacing of the story changes throughout. It begins with a strong start, but then the intensity and suspense dip in the middle, where many side characters are introduced as red herrings.

The ending feels rushed and includes a surprise twist that is hard to believe but also one that I anticipated. Fans of The Housemaid and The Last Mrs. Parrish will be familiar with this twist.

While I did guess some plot twists due to how Hendricks and Pekkanen set up the story, others also surprised me. However, there were numerous unanswered plot holes, likely from introducing so many side characters and opening up multiple subplots.

Writing

This book’s dual points of view are told from two different perspectives. Avery’s POV is in first person, while Marissa’s is in third person limited.

Some readers on Goodreads mentioned that they found this writing style challenging to switch between each perspective type with each chapter. However, I felt it worked well for the characters and their stories.

The writing is fairly easy to follow, and the chapters are short. Most of them ended with a tiny breadcrumb of suspense, which kept me engaged.

Narration

The highlight of this book is its narration. The audiobook narrators did a fantastic job keeping me engaged, and their voices perfectly suited the main female characters.

Marissa’s narrator captured her uncertainty and anxiety, while Avery’s narrator had an air of nonchalance, just like her character.

I initially started reading this on Kindle Unlimited, but the third-person point of view wasn’t working for me. However, when I realized I had the audiobook in my library, I decided to try it, and I’m glad I did.

So, I definitely recommend trying this book in audio format.

Best Quotes

  • Grief isn’t linear. It isn’t logical. There’s no structure or civility to it; it grabs you when you least expect it and digs in its nails until you succumb.
  • Time is a chameleon. It’s ever changing, cannily adapting to circumstances. It stretches out some tiny moments for an eternity. Then it shifts course and swallows up whole days, years even, as if they never existed. It’s as slippery and elusive as water running through the cracks in a tightly cupped hand.
  • Grief is a shape-shifter, it defies logic, sneaking up on you when you least expect it and leaving you empty-handed and hollow when you go searching for it.
  • Sometimes, we need to look at our lives from a different angle to recognize the dysfunction and damage certain relationships are causing.

Conclusion

The Golden Couple is an easily readable and entertaining psychological thriller, perfect for those seeking a beach read.

However, it is important to suspend your disbelief, and if you have read a lot of other thrillers, you may anticipate some of the twists.

Book Club Questions

Infidelity

  1. Viewing the infidelity through Marissa’s perspective, did it elicit empathy for her character, or do you maintain a stance against infidelity, regardless of the motives involved? How did Marissa’s point of view impact your perception of her actions?
  2. Marissa chooses not to disclose the real identity of the person she cheated with due to his connection to her husband. To what extent do you think this decision is influenced by a desire to spare her husband from a painful truth? How does this choice shape the dynamics of trust and honesty in their relationship?
  3. Considering Marissa’s infidelity, do you think her personality or the circumstances surrounding her played a more significant role in her decision to cheat? How does this dynamic contribute to the complexity of her character?
  4. Explore how well the book navigates the ripple effect of infidelity within a family. How are the consequences portrayed, and do you think the emotional aftermath is realistically depicted?
  5. Marissa claims that feeling lonely in her marriage, due to Matthew’s constant work, led to her infidelity. Do you think this justifies her behavior, or are there other factors to consider when evaluating the choices people make in strained relationships? Explore the complexities of loneliness and its potential impact on individuals in marriages.

Relationships

  1. Reflecting on Marissa and Matthew’s journey, do you believe they could have overcome their infidelity without outside intervention? Alternatively, do you think Matthew’s secret plan would have unfolded in the same way, regardless of external influences?
  2. Bennett looks up to his dad a lot and joins baseball solely to make his dad happy. How significant a role do you think fathers play in shaping their sons’ lives? Discuss the influence of parental expectations and how it affects children’s choices and aspirations.
  3. What are your thoughts on a potential relationship between Derrick and Avery? Would you consider having a romantic involvement with someone who is 15 years younger than you? Discuss the dynamics of age differences in relationships.
  4. Avery is faced with the challenging decision to help euthanize her husband according to his wishes. If you were in her position, what would you have done? Explore the moral and emotional complexities surrounding end-of-life decisions.
  5. Marissa admits that the perfect image she portrays on social media about her marriage doesn’t reflect the reality of her relationship. How authentic do you believe social media is in portraying people’s lives in this day and age? Discuss the impact of social media on perceptions of relationships and personal experiences.

Characters

  1. How do you perceive Avery’s methods—do you find them too extreme, or do you believe her high success rate justifies her unconventional approach? Given her tendency to tread the line between professional conduct and potentially unethical behavior, would you ever be open to seeking her assistance in navigating marital challenges?
  2. Put yourself in Avery’s shoes: faced with the decision to blow the whistle on a major pharmaceutical company, what would you have done? Do you think you would have taken a stand like Avery, or would you have approached the situation differently?
  3. Marissa grapples with the challenges of balancing personal and professional responsibilities. Do you believe her living in a suburban area with high expectations for mothers plays a significant role in her struggle? Would her approach to this balance be different if Bennett attended a public school instead?
  4. The author portrays Marissa as a vulnerable, lonely character navigating the pressures of motherhood, work, and marriage. Her mistakes are depicted as relatable. Do you believe this portrayal resonates with the experiences of mothers in general?
  5. Among the side characters, which one was your top suspect, and why did they stand out to you as a likely candidate?
  6. Knowing Marissa had cheated before reading the book, did this foreknowledge influence your perception of her character throughout the story? How did it shape your understanding of her actions and motivations?
  7. Avery admits she prefers to fix her clients’ problems rather than her own. Do you believe having unresolved personal issues affected the way she managed her clients, such as dedicating significant time to ‘stalking’ them? Would her approach have been different if she were not using it as a diversion from her own problems?

Book Plot & Structure

  1. In the course of the narrative, both Avery and Marissa experience the loss of their husbands, albeit in different ways. How do these distinct experiences shape their characters, and how does grief influence the overall plot?
  2. Reflecting on the conclusion, which moment surprised you the most, and which one surprised you the least?
  3. Considering the book’s ending, how does it alter your perception of who the actual “golden couple” is? Initially meant to signify a perfect couple, could the title also reference a couple that is right for each other, such as Marissa and Skip? Delve into the double meaning behind the title in relation to both couples.
  4. Reflecting on the various perspectives presented in the story, how did they impact your overall enjoyment of the narrative? Whose additional point of view would you have wanted to explore further, and how might it have enriched or dampened the storytelling?
  5. Marissa seeks Avery’s help to “save her marriage.” Do you believe there’s a double meaning behind this statement? How does the ambiguity in Marissa’s request contribute to the overall narrative?

FAQs

Who are the characters in The Golden Couple?

Avery Chambers – therapist

Marissa Bishop – wife of Matthew Bishop, who cheats on her husband

There are alot of supporting characters. Take a look at the character map above for the entire cast.

When was The Golden Couple released?

Originally published: March 3, 2022

Paperback version was released January 3, 2023.

Where is The Golden Couple set?

Washington, D.C.

How many pages are in The Golden Couple book?

352 pages.

What is Acelia in The Golden Couple?

Acelia is the pharmaceutical company that Avery blows the whistle on. A client approached her after overhearing executives in the company discussing the cover-up of deaths in an ongoing drug trial.

When the client was too frightened to confront them, Avery made an anonymous tip to the authorities.

However, this tip was not as anonymous as she had believed, and Acelia sends goons throughout the story to pressure Avery into revealing the informant.

What happens at the end of The Golden Couple?

Avery and Skip work together to confront Matthew and prevent him from harming his wife. In a final showdown inside their house, Avery shoots Matthew, causing his immediate death.

The story then fast-forwards 8 months, showing how Marissa and her son, Bennett, have moved on with Skip.

Meanwhile, Avery has gained even more fame for her notoriety, mainly due to a recent newspaper headline that reads, “Maverick Ex-therapist Kills Client.”

Other books similar to The Golden Couple?

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Is The Golden Couple being made into a movie?

As of the publication of this post, no movie adaptations have been confirmed.

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