The Golden Cage by Camilla Läckberg
Published by Knopf
Publication date: July 7, 2020
The story is not a new one in fiction: intelligent woman meets man in college, gives him great business idea, he runs with it, they marry, have children, and she finds herself left with nothing when replaced by younger, firmer version of herself. In The Golden Cage, Faye is the woman and in Sweden she lives of life of ease with her husband, Jake, and their young daughter, thanks to her concept for a telemarketing company. Where Jake once acknowledged her as being his one-and-only and the brains in the family he’s now kicked her to the curb with no money and limited custody. The good news? Faye still has that sharp mind and after her humiliation she decides she’s going to bring him down.
If you’re thinking of the book (and movie) First Wives Club that’s all right. The Golden Cage operates on the same premise, one of the things that makes it such addictive reading. Who doesn’t want retribution on terrible men? For Faye, it starts with her company Revenge. All of her initial investors are women badly treated by men. Slowly, but surely, she builds her own wealth, taking years, but never losing sight of the end game. She also regains her sense of self and watches as her ex-husband starts eying her again.
It’s a bit formulaic, but author Camilla Läckberg layers in a cast and a past that all work to elevate the tension. This is most apparent with Faye, who has a backstory of abuse and murder. She’s a victim, much as she is with Jack, but Läckberg doesn’t make it that easy. Early on, we learn that Faye will do what it takes to get what she wants. This conflicted feeling of victim or villain is done with such subtlety that the novel is awash in shades of gray when it seems as if it should be black or white.
I’m not going to hold back on The Golden Cage: if you want a book to pick up and not set down, then this is it. Läckberg takes an origami of a life and pulls it open, page by page, until the conclusion when all that’s left is a smooth piece of paper. Another sign of how well this novel works is that it is flawed. On closer examination there are points that don’t quite add up and plots choices that veer into the extreme, but to Läckberg’s credit I didn’t even start to question those items until a day after I finished the book. Once onboard this carefully calculated, nervy, firecracker of a novel is a wild ride you’ll love.
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