The New Me by Mary Marcus is another Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) that I was privileged to receive through a Shelf Awareness giveaway. Having recently finished reading it, here is my extended review.
The New Me
by Mary Marcus
Published by The Story Plant, 2013
As it says on the back cover of this novel, “Harriet is floundering.” Harriet is floundering as she deals with the events of her life. She is now in her early forties and feels like her life is careening out of control. She has a less and less attentive husband, Jules, who is often away at his job doing camera work for television shows. This makes her feel like her marriage has become boring and empty. Her twin sons, Dan and Sam, need her less and less, too. They are leaving the nest as they head off to college. Her cable television cooking show has grown stale in her opinion. Despite this, she has an opportunity to head to New York for a more prominent, lucrative show, yet Jules suggests having another baby instead. In short, Harriet is not content with her life.
As the novel begins, she is standing on the street where she used to live, right outside her old home. She is stealthily observing Lydia, the woman who has replaced her in her own life. As she indicates, Lydia is the new me, fitting conveniently into Jules’ and her life perfectly.
At that, Harriet starts thinking back over her life and marriage to Jules and the life she had rearing their boys. She goes back to the beginning of her life with Jules and the boys and retraces some of the events and decisions she has participated in through the years.
Enter Lydia, a new friend whom she meets at yoga. They slowly become acquainted, and Harriet notes how much Lydia reminds her of her younger self (a decade or so earlier). At first, it appears to be a synergistic relationship. Harriet has someone who looks up to her as a role model, and Lydia manages to act like a good friend. As Lydia becomes more entrenched in their family, even coming to live with Jules and her, the barriers break down. Jules comes home on time because he likes having Lydia around. Harriet appreciates Lydia’s help with Jules. Along the way, however, Lydia becomes a little too entrenched, and Harriet is slowly, irrevocably pushed out.
Has this whole scenario been orchestrated by Harriet? Does Harriet create her replacement? Or is she fooled by Jules and Lydia? Friends and lovers betray in this compelling novel in which Harriet looks back on what happened in her marriage and her life.