Review: The Couple in the Photo by Helen Cooper


Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (December 5, 2023)

From Lucy and her husband, Adam, have been best friends with another couple, Cora and Scott for years. The four are practically family at this point--they vacation together, co-own a beach cottage, and their young children are inseparable. So Lucy is devastated when, while looking at a colleague's photos of a trip to the Malives, she spots a picture of Scott, apparently on a luxurious holiday with another woman.

Lucy is determined to protect her best friend from her husband's seeming infidelity, but when she learns that the woman in the photo has gone missing, she can't help but fear that Scott was involved. As she searches for answers, she uncovers secrets about her friends and her own husband that could destroy the wonderful lives they have built...and she suspects that everybody around her knows much more about the missing woman than they are letting on. Is Lucy actually the one most in the dark? If so, what are the consequences of discovering the truth?


My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

This novel requires that you suspend belief - A LOT. 

Right off the bat, you have to overlook the one in a million odds that not only would Lucy's friend be on the same vacation island as her co-worker, but that he would allow himself to be photographed with the woman he was having an affair with. The author does a good job of trying to explain how the photograph came to be about, but as smart as Scott was, there is no doubt in my mind he would have found a way to get out of it (and should have even if he too didn't think there was a chance it would ever be seen by anyone else). And then the mystery woman goes missing. And Lucy becomes.... obsessed. 

Seriously, I don't know what else to call her constant need to refresh her phone looking for updates, or the way she starts trying to sleuth around trying to catch her husbands and best friends out in lies (which if she was even partially as good as reading people as she claimed to be she would have seen certain truths long before she did). 

That was another big issue that kept me from enjoying this novel. None of the characters were likable at all. It was obvious that the "friend group" (which again, included her own husband) were keeping things from Lucy. In fact, the more truths that came out, the more I started hating the entire lot of them. Yes, they were united in something that happened in the past. Which yes, was horrible, and tragic, but that doesn't make anything that they did before or after that event acceptable. Especially the way Adam gaslit his own wife repeatedly knowing there was every chance she would at least piece together that they all knew the missing woman. It would have been easier from the start if Adam had admitted to knowing her at university, and Scott would have admitted to the affair. Yes, she would have been upset with Scott, and yes she would have told Cora, but she would have stopped snooping into the missing woman's life. But then I suppose that would have made for a really short story.

Still there was a chance this book might have been redeemed until .... the ending. The moment where everything comes together and all secrets are revealed. Once again, you REALLY have to just suspend your disbelief and go with it. To be honest I found it not only extremely farfetched (for example, how did Lucy fall down the stairs in the manner that she did and one minute be experiencing pain and near black outs then the next she's not only perfectly fine, but able to piece things together that hadn't even been said). Also the way that Adam treated his own wife, putting Cora's wants and needs before his injured wife... I've said it once and I'll say it again. Horrid people. The entire lot of them.
Overall, I can see where people enjoyed this one, it just wasn't for me. I would however give the author another chance down the road. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.



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