Hidden starts with a bang. Well, a crash is more accurate. Jeff is walking home from his office after firing his former boss (think Office Space consultant restructuring) when he’s hit by a car and killed instantly (whether or not it was karma is up to you).
The aftermath (and flashbacks) are told in the first person by the three key characters. Jeff (possible asshat), Claire (his wife), and Tish (his not-quite-mistress). Now the jacket blurb makes the whole thing seem way more sordid than it was. As in real life, it’s somewhat complicated. But still inexcusable, in my opinion. But I find I can’t hate Jeff or Tish. I actually probably disliked Claire the most, but that could very well be the fault of the narrator, who spoke a bit like Katherine Hepburn (in a bad way). Jeff and Tish were voiced in a much more pleasant tone. But they were also just more lively and interesting people.
Hidden brings up a couple of interesting ideas. First, what constitutes an affair? As the book goes on, we get more and more detail as to what kind of relationship Jeff and Tish had. And I kept thinking to myself, is this really an affair? Maybe an emotional affair, as Alanis Morissette once put it? Does that count? Does it have to be physical?
The other idea is whether or not the other person in the marriage would actually want to know if there was an affair. Or the extent of an affair. Because Claire only learns about Tish and the fact that she knew Jeff after he was already gone. And Claire’s sister, Beth, tries to convince her not to torture herself. I kinda agree. Does it really matter, since Jeff is dead anyway?
I’ve tried to put myself in both Claire’s and Tish’s position. I personally have no idea what Tish has to complain about. Her husband is freaking amazing. Claire seemed a bit needy and, I don’t know, off, so I suppose I can see the appeal of Tish. Because Tish is pretty amazing. But what it comes down to for me is that marriage is sacred. Til death do you part and all that. I sincerely believe in that.
I was pissed off and practically yelling at the characters as I drove down the highway listening to Hidden. But in a good way. I really cared about everyone, even Claire with her less than ideal narrator. And I guess that’s a sign of a good book, right?