Also by this author: The Interestings, The Female Persuasion
Published by Scribner on March 25, 2003
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
After finishing The Bully Pulpit, I was in severe need of a good, quick read that would help transition me out of politics. Naturally, I asked the Twitterverse to help me decide and, upon learning that Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife was an option, Andi at Estella’s Revenge responded with a resounding yes (read her review here). Because I trust her recommendations, I decided to go for it and and pleased to report that she was correct once again.
I should mention up front that The Wife is not a happy book. It resembles real life and, as we all know, real life can be messy. From the first page, the reader knows that the narrator, Joan, is going to leave her husband, Joe, a celebrated author whom she’d been married to for several decades. The rest of the book tells the story of how they met, their relationship, their ups and downs, and, finally, what led them to the narrator’s desire to leave her husband.
Although I absolutely adored the way this story unfolded and can admit that Wolitzer makes me want to want to be a writer, I had a hard time relating to it. The book is, according to the Goodreads description, about “a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she’s made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted.” There are three reasons for this: First, I was brought up thinking that a full-time career is not only okay, but encouraged if that’s what I wanted. Second, I’m only 32, so I’m still early enough in my career that I haven’t had to make any sacrifices yet. Lastly, I’m married to a man who actively pushes me to be more successful than me. I’m fully aware that these are all products of my generation and can appreciate the story because I understand women’s history, but it left me reading the book as an outsider, rather than bringing me into the fold.
Regardless of this, I loved the book. It’s incredibly well written, descriptive, and compelling. As much as I couldn’t directly relate to Joan, I feel like I completely understand her. I’m sure her sacrifices hurt my heart only a fraction of the amount that it hurt hers, but it hurt me nonetheless and any book that evokes an emotion is a good one.
Recommended for: Any woman who has made sacrifices for her marriage or family or who likes complex, realistic stories about marriage and family.