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Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple: an attorney and a therapist. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life.

THE MARRIAGE PACT author, Michelle Richmond, spent some time discussing her novel with The Big Thrill:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope this book will cause readers to think about their own marriages and partnerships: what do they give up to be part of a couple, what is the difference between possession and love, and how far are they willing to go to save their relationship?

I also want them to think about how we make certain choices due to inertia rather than clear thought, and how intelligent people can be drawn into groups and situations that seem innocent but are in fact quite sinister.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

THE MARRIAGE PACT offers an intense examination of modern marriage, putting an ordinary couple through extreme tests. It posits that no marriage is truly equal, no matter how much we think it might be.

Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?

In my research on marriage, I discovered that people who co-habitate before marriage are less likely to get a divorce, people who spend less than $5,000 on their wedding are more likely to stay married than people who spend more than $50,000, and short men stay married longer than tall men.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

I sat in on a fascinating, far-reaching federal court case, which led to the courtroom scenes in THE MARRIAGE PACT. The desert prison in THE MARRIAGE PACT is modeled on a real prison. The weirdly affluent, secretive Silicon Valley town depicted in the novel is based on Hillsborough, CA, where every other car is a Tesla, Lamborghinis outnumber street lamps, and roads were built to be intentionally confusing in the 1800s to keep out the riffraff from San Francisco.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

The stories of Grace Paley taught me not to shy away from dialogue. The books of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall are evidence of literary collaboration at its best. Ian McEwan’s work taught me how to write about big ideas without being boring, while Kate Atkinson taught me how to put characters through the paces, and then through some more paces. I have shelves of Scandinavian thrillers that inspire me, every day, to write clean and write scary.


Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage Pact, Golden State, The Year of Fog, No One You Know, and Dream of the Blue Room. A native of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, she makes her home in Northern California.

To learn more about Michelle, please visit her website.