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The Wife Paperback – 5 Aug 2004
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"Meg Wolitzer is so funny and clever she should be bottled and sold as tonic" (Allison Pearson)
"A triumph of tone and observation, The Wife is a blithe, brilliant take on sexual politics" (Lorrie Moore)
"Hilarious and touching" (Erica Wagner, The Times)
"With a great lightness of touch, Wolitzer's novel satirises American literary circles of the Seventies and Eighties and traces the generation of wives who poured their own creative energies into "stoking the fires" of their husbands' reputations." (Emma Hagestadt, Independent)
"The wife was published less than a decade ago, but I say it is already a classic - and I have no idea why it's author remains so less well known than her US compatriots, Alison Lurie and Lorrie Moore." (Observer)
Joe and Joan Castleman are on route to Helsinki, Joe is thinking about the prestigious literary prize he will receive and Joan is plotting how to leave him. Their marriage has been careering towards this moment, Joe's chance to bask in the glory of a life dedicated to letters and Joan's final appearance as his adoring wife. For too long Joan has played the role of supportive wife, turning a blind eye to his misdemeanours, subjugating her own talents and quietly being the keystone of his success. The Wife is an acerbic and astonishing take on a marriage from its public face to the private world behind closed doors. Wolitzer has masterfully created an expose of lives lived in partnership and the truth that behind the compromises, dedication and promise inherent in marriage there so often lies a secret underpinning it all.See all Product description
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The prose style is lovely and occasionally really affecting. It jumps around through their lives together without ever feeling as though the author is hiding anything or pushing the reader in any particular direction. The style seems to get more confident as the book goes on, reflecting Joan's decision taking shape as she rakes over past happenings. It also has a cracking ending that left me entirely heartbroken and frustrated, not with the novel or the author, but with the circumstances. It really pricked my sense of natural justice. Beyond that I felt (I'm a bloke by the way) like I got a real insight into the lives of women. The expectations placed on women, the manner in which they are expected to abdicate personal authority and ambition for either a family or just a man is something I sort of accepted as fact but hadn't thought deeply about. This novel made me think a great deal about the subject and how equal relationships really are.
I'd really recommend this, to men specifically. It's well written, funny and smart and will give you an insight into the deal that couples enter into and how the expectations are different depending on whether or not you have dangly bits. I'm now off to read more Meg Wolitzer, she's really good!
Joan Castleman has always had to make sacrifices including putting her literary ambitions in abeyance. There is 'rebellion' within her but not enough fire to take action. When she finally decides to end her marriage (in her 60s) events take an unexpected turn and she ends up making an even bigger sacrifice.
An easy to read book but it did not leave me in awe......
I had no real expectations with this book, in fact I barely even knew what it was about. I have read ‘The Female Persuasion’ by Meg Wolitzer previously and gave it a 2 out of 5 rating but I approached ‘The Wife’ with an open mind.
The main character and narrator is Joan. We are introduced to Joan as she is on a flight with her husband of many years, Joe, to collect a major literary award that he has been awarded. During the course of the flight, Joan makes the decision to leave Joe. What then follows is a series of flashbacks through Joan and Joe’s relationship and the events that unfurl as Joan announces that she is leaving Joe.
I read this book purely on its entertainment merit. I didn’t think about any political or feminist angles and did not take the time to try and analyse the words and phrases that Wolitzer has used. Based on that, I enjoyed this book. I felt the writing flowed well and it was easy to understand which tense we were in. The characters are interesting, if slightly predictable. A strong, highly educated and suppressed female and a weak, useless but somehow successful male seem to be characters that Wolitzer leans towards.
There were some slower parts of the book for me and I saw the ending and the ‘twist’ coming but this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment. I found myself thinking about this book in between reads and looking forward to when I could next read it.