Literature is full of dysfunctional duos and my new thriller, The Perfect Victim, is no exception. Sure, it’s about murder but at its heart lies an unravelling marriage.
Emily and Charlie Swift are the perfect couple…until Charlie is outed as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder. As the reader is drawn deeper into their toxic relationship, one thing becomes clear: there is nothing perfect about the Swifts. Let’s check out fiction’s other contenders for worst marriage ever…
Henry and April Wheeler: Revolutionary Road
Like my fictional couple, the Wheelers seem to have it all, but their white-picket- fenced-house in leafy suburbia soon starts to feel like a cage. Stifled, they take out life’s disappointments on one another in one of the most depressing depictions of modern marriage I can recall. When Frank tells April that deep down she must love him, she retorts, ‘But I don't. I hate you. You were just some boy who made me laugh at a party once, and now I loathe the sight of you.’
Humbert Humbert and Charlotte Haze: Lolita
Uuugh, where to start? You know it’s doomed when the sole reason for marrying a woman is so you can gain access to her 12-year-old daughter. Charlotte eventually discovers her husband’s sordid secret when she stumbles across his diary. Horrified, she legs it out the door and is killed by a car. Who said romance was dea–oh, wait.
Amy & Nick Dunne: Gone Girl
SPOILER ALERT YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Gillian Flynn’s 2014 smash cut right to the heart of a dysfunctional marriage. Yes, Amy’s a psychopath, but womanising Nick is hardly Prince Charming. When the midway twist is revealed, it’s hard to say which of two are more unlikeable. Nick tells Amy, ‘We complete each other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way’. So they deserve each other, then?
I mean, who wouldn’t want to meet this couple on the dinner-party circuit? The power-hungry pair spend every waking hour of Shakespeare’s tragedy plotting the downfall of the King. But Lady Macbeth has the edge. Every time her husband starts to bottles it, she’s all like REAL MEN MURDER THEIR KINGS. Proof that bringing out the worst in each other can end in multiple deaths (including your own).
Cathy and Heathcliff: Wuthering Heights
No list would be complete without batshit crazy Cathy and her brooding soulmate. Sure, they have mega chemistry, but according to her ‘it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff’. Cue decades of misery for everyone involved. Also: technically they aren’t married and don’t belong on this list. So…enter Isabella Linton, Heathcliff’s lucky second choice. He torments her, all the while banging on about is one true love. After Cathy dies, the punches keep on coming. Heathcliff decides it would be a cracking idea for their children to marry. So he takes her daughter hostage. Ain’t love grand?