A middle-aged woman struggles to break free from domestic abuse in Kathy Sechrist’s novel, Success is the Best Revenge.
Sara Matthews, a web designer in Whidbey Island, Washington, wrestles with feelings of inadequacy stemming from years of child abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Her mother, now deceased, never believed her accusations, and she haunts Sara’s psyche with disparaging remarks. Now in the midst of a divorce, Sara struggles to remain focused on her work for a client in London, where her English business partner Thomas Hunter, is based.
As the project progresses and requires Sara to spend time in London, her relationship with Thomas becomes romantic. Her happiness is short-lived, however, once his drinking and temper endanger her. From her prior experience as a volunteer advocate for abused women, Sara recognizes warning signs of abuse yet remains with Thomas. As the risk to herself mounts, she must see if she can summon the strength to break free from him in order to survive physically, emotionally, and financially.
Sechrist sheds light on the difficult predicament abuse victims face when determining whether to seek help and trade the status quo for an unknown future. One may not always agree with Sara’s decisions, but her vulnerability coupled with an increasing sense of self-worth make her a compelling figure. Although Sechrist neglects to address Sara’s own excessive drinking, she skillfully depicts Sara’s inner struggles by giving voice to her internal thoughts as she acknowledges that “Breaking free wasn’t easy; staying was even harder.”
At times, Sara’s reflections seem redundant while she continues to question her relationship choices and her own resolve. Perhaps, however, that is the novel’s point: that the path to escaping abuse and reclaiming one’s well-being may not be comprised of simple choices.
Overall, this is an insightful and absorbing story based on the true events of a woman grappling with domestic abuse.
Also available as an ebook.