What She Gave Away
I’m almost always up for a new thriller that centers around revenge. There’s something about the calculating nature of a person trying to get even with someone from their past that makes for a spectacularly suspenseful read. So, when I read the synopsis for Catharine Riggs’ What She Gave Away, I knew I had to read it.
Crystal Love likes nothing better than imagining how to destroy someone’s life. Of course, this doesn’t make her very popular, but that doesn’t matter to Crystal, because nothing is more important than getting revenge against those who have wronged her. To that end, Crystal shows up in Santa Barbara and gets a job as a loan analyst. She’s very good with numbers, and soon her superiors begin to take notice of her excellent work. Not long after this, many of the bank’s employees are eating right of her hand, and Crystal can’t imagine being happier.
Kathi Wright lives what seems to be a charmed life. Her husband is the president of a local bank, and they have more money than they know what to do with. Kathi’s days are spent lunching with the ‘right’ kind of people, shopping, and participating in various charitable causes. But when Kathi’s husband dies under suspicious circumstances, her world comes crashing down around her, and Kathi is left to pick up the pieces of a life that has been forever changed.
You’re probably wondering how Kathi’s and Crystal’s stories intersect, but you’ll have to read the book to find out. At first, I was quite confused by what seemed like two completely unrelated story lines, but I stuck with it, and all of my questions were eventually answered. Patience is the name of the game here.
This novel spans two years and is told in alternating chapters from both Kathi’s and Crystal’s points of view. Neither woman is particularly likable, but there was something so compelling about the story that I wasn’t as bothered by this as I otherwise might have been.
Crystal is extremely cold and calculating. She never seems to lose sight of her goal, even when unforeseen circumstances get in her way. She’s obviously very intelligent, something she uses to her advantage whenever possible. She has some very dark secrets, and one of my favorite parts of the book was learning exactly what had shaped her into the woman she is today.
Kathi initially comes off as incredibly vain and shallow. She shrugs off pretty much anything that’s even the slightest bit unpleasant, refusing to deal with it until someone forces her hand. We’re given the impression that she and her husband have convinced the world that their marriage is a happy one even though they’re actually leading pretty separate lives when the story opens. Social status is extremely important to Kathi, and I was occasionally frustrated by her inability to deal with the important stuff in her life because of how it might look to those around her. Fortunately, she does grow and change quite a bit as the story goes on, and while I never fully embraced her as a character, I was pleased by some of the changes she was eventually able to make.
There are a couple of things about the story that were a little too predictable for my liking, but I was still able to enjoy the novel as a whole. Ms. Riggs created a few fantastic twists that took me completely by surprise, so it’s pretty easy for me to forgive some of the smaller things that felt too convenient. If you’re looking for a revenge-based thriller to lose yourself in this fall, you could do far worse than What She Gave Away. It’s a book that works well in spite of its few flaws.