The Secret Talker by Geling Yan (out May 4) is a deliciously darkish and twisty novel all about uncovering new issues about every character — and it isn’t till the top that all of it utterly clicks. Qiao Hongmei, the protagonist, has left every little thing for her husband: her navy intelligence job in China, her ex, the childhood village she’s wanting to overlook. Glen, a well-off American professor, sweeps her off to a lifetime of leisure and examine within the San Francisco Bay Area. “If this were the ending,” Hongmei says, “it really would be a very sweet fairy tale.”
But that’s solely the start of the novel, initially revealed in 2005 and newly translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang. The plot picks up years after Hongmei leaves China, and her relationship with Glen is disintegrating. Her pores and skin crawls when he touches her, and so they talk by way of notes left on the kitchen counter. Worst of all, she’s shrunk to suit the stereotype he needs: a quiet, obedient spouse, lovely however passive. When we meet her, Hongmei is shattered by disappointment. “She’d always thought there would be an even bigger world in front of her, an even more perfect man waiting for her love,” Yan writes. “In the end, this wasn’t the case.”
Then Hongmei receives an intriguing, disturbing e-mail from an nameless admirer. The darkish feelings she’s stored so tightly certain are instantly set unfastened, and she will be able to’t assist however begin a correspondence with this individual, whom she calls “the secret talker,” fascinated by their obsession together with her. The secret talker teases out her previous in painful shards, revealing stunning violence, a grim dedication to do no matter it took to flee her small, haunted hometown, and gaping wounds in her relationship with Glen. Hooked by the adrenaline rush and caught up in her personal rising attraction, Hongmei cannot cease responding, at the same time as the key admirer turns into a stalker who appears to trace her each transfer — then tells her about it afterward, relishing every phrase.
“Without transgression, happiness wasn’t real.”
What makes Hongmei, Glen, the key talker, and the remainder of Yan’s small solid of characters so fascinating is that you just consider they is likely to be able to something. This is very true as we dive deeper into Hongmei’s previous and get tantalizing glimpses into the reality of her relationship with Glen. It’s not simply her dissatisfying marriage or the steamy attraction that drives Hongmei to research the key talker’s true id, intently pursuing a face-to-face assembly; it is a burning want to be really understood, a connection solely the key talker can provide her. And in her uncooked, stripped-back type, Yan spares nothing for her characters, slicing by way of the white lies and platitudes they use to consolation themselves. “No one can ever be fully aware of how many plans are sprouting in the darkness at the bottom of their heart,” she writes.
The last twist is satisfying and well-executed, and late sufficient that I questioned if it could come in any respect. Immediately, I wished to reread the entire e-book and dig up the clues I may need missed — all the time a very good signal after you end a thriller, and The Secret Talker is a wonderful one. Searing and delicately brutal, it strikes on the coronary heart of what makes a relationship implode.
“Without transgression, happiness wasn’t real . . . She told Glen how much she loved him, and that was the truth — it felt as if her unfaithfulness had made her love him even more. Every woman finds that a secret passion increases her ardor and warmth for her husband, and every lucky husband should thank his shadowy rival, whether real or imagined. The security of a household stems from feelings constantly going their own way, conscience and falsehood adjusting each other, the third point of a triangle forever shrouded in darkness.”
The strands of this story do not come collectively till the very finish, so get able to train a little bit of endurance, however don’t fret — the extraordinary web affair between Hongmei and the key talker propels the e-book ahead quick.
Where You Should Read It
Read this one on a wet, foggy evening (suppose: chilly San Francisco spring, or as near that as you will get) with a glass of wine close by.
Read This If You Like . . .
This e-book gave me the identical claustrophobic, skin-crawling sensation of being watched and hunted as The Woman within the Window by A.J. Finn.
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Prompt(s)
If you are studying this one for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, use it for these prompts:
- A e-book set in a number of international locations
- A e-book revealed in 2021
How Long It Takes to Read
Two or three days. The Secret Talker is just 150 fast-paced pages, propelled by a thriller that’ll hold you studying by way of the evening.
Give This Book to . . .
This is a good one for a book club. Short and filled with gasp-worthy revelations, it additionally brings up questions of relationship morality which can be certain to spark debate.
The Sweet Spot Summary
The Secret Talker ($21) by Geling Yan is a psychological thriller that turns a cruel eye on the failings and failures that doom relationships, following a lady determined to be understood and afraid she by no means might be.
Image Source: June Park