THE WIFE by Meg Wolitzer (is My Book Girlfriend)Posted: January 8, 2013
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:
I feel like this post should really be called “Meg Wolitzer, where have you been all my adult reading life, come over here and give me ALL THE KISSES!”
But first, credit where credit is due. Thank you SO MUCH to Emma Straub who recommended this week’s Book Girlfriend via Read This: Handpicked Favorites from America’s Indie Bookstores. It’s an INDISPENSABLE book guide. Some of my most favorite internet bookseller friends show up here (Liberty Hardy of RiverRun, Josh Christie of Sherman’s Books and Stationery, Emily Pullen formerly of Skylight, now of Word, and, of course, Straub from Book Court.)
I already liked so many of Emma’s picks ( you guys have heard me talk about my huge crushes on Kate Christensen’s The Great Man, John William’s Stoner, and Adrian LeBlanc’s Random Family on the blog) so I was all kinds of excited to order a bunch of Emma’s picks from Read This from the library.
I read The Wife in about a day and a half. It wasn’t the “This is my allotted nightly reading time so I’m going to pick up my book” kind of reading.
It was the “I’m going to pick up this book with every free chunk of time I have even if that chunk is only three minutes long” kind of reading. Harry Potter and Hunger Games reading. Yes, THAT kind of reading.
The Wife is told from the POV of Joan Castleman, the wife of one of the 20th century’s greatest living novelists John Castleman. Joan met John while attending Smith in the 50′s. He was her married creative writing professor and she his prize student. The two ran away to New York where she became his new wife and proved instrumental to him writing his smash debut novel. Through the decades Joan is key to her husband’s writing career. They build a family, and a com-plic-ated one at that. But their complicated relationships with their children is nothing compared to their complicated relationship with each other. Basically she’s the backbone of his life and he cheats on her ass like cheating is going out of style. As the book opens, Joan is accompanying John to Helsinki where he is to receive the literary prize of his life. Their story is told in flashbacks. We return to Helsinki throughout. The novel culminated with John receiving the prize. Then there’s a revelation at the end that completely reframes the entire context of the book.
Here’s the thing- I saw the twist ending coming from halfway through the book on.
Here’s the other thing- that didn’t really bother me.
Knowing the ending didn’t spoil the middle for me, it made it that much more boggling and wrenching. And boggling and wrenching are two of my VERY MOST FAVORITE READING ADJECTIVES.
I just adored this book. It was so sharp and funny and provocative. It explores one woman’s relationship with creativity and success with such intelligence and compassion. The scenes are riveting and the characters are so infuriating and flawed and human. It’s an issues book without being preachy or ponderous. I ate it up with a spoon and a fork.
If you’re looking for just the smartest domestic drama, pick The Wife up stat. And it’s skinny little book at that, two hundred something pages, you too can read in a day and a half!
WHAT KIND OF GIRLFRIEND IS SHE:
Such a smart and patient Book Girlfriend that puts up with me cheating on her with ALL THE OTHER books.
MY DATE WITH THE WIFE:
Me being a bad girl with another book.
Me getting caught by The Wife.
Me trying to explain.
It doesn’t go well.