The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

The Wife by Meg WolitzerThe Wife by Meg Wolitzer
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 224
Source: I purchased a copy of this book.
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Meg Wolitzer brings her characteristic wit and intelligence to a provocative story about the evolution of a marriage, the nature of partnership, the question of a male or female sensibility, and the place for an ambitious woman in a man’s world.The moment Joan Castleman decides to leave her husband, they are thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean on a flight to Helsinki. Joan’s husband, Joseph, is one of America’s preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award, and Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has finally decided to stop. From this gripping opening, Meg Wolitzer flashes back to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village and follows the course of the marriage that has brought the couple to this breaking point—one that results in a shocking revelation. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer has crafted a wise and candid look at the choices all men and women make—in marriage, work, and life.

Meg Wolitzer’s writing makes me want to pick up a classic. Her phrasing, her descriptions…all of it is just breathtaking. And her character-building! Joan Castleman was so lifelike to me. Her voice absolutely matches her character, all the way down to her flowery similes, and this is consistent at every point in the novel.

However, this book is barely over 200 pages, yet I felt so bogged down through the middle. It felt like it would never end. Admittedly, I tend to prefer short, snappy prose; but The Interestings [my review] was more than twice as long and kept my attention throughout. So I don’t know how I feel about this one. (I did enjoy the twist at the end, though!)

The Wife is one of those reads that I can’t say I fully enjoyed while I was reading it, but I absolutely cannot brush it aside because I’ve been mulling over it ever since I finished. It touches on deep issues concerning how (and for whom) we live our lives, how we find fulfillment, and how we balance our choices with our responsibilities. All packaged in Wolitzer’s ravishing narrative style.

Classic.

  • I absolutely loved this one (thanks to Shannon for getting me to read it)! Maybe even more than The Interestings…I think one of the reasons is that my father is so similar to Joe Castleman (in the way he was raised by a bunch of women who totally coddled him), so her descriptions of Joe had me highlighting like crazy. And Wolitzer hit the nail on the head in that respect.

  • This is one of my all-time favorites, and I actually liked it better than The Interestings… but double standards about women and creativity are kind of my kryptonite.

  • I haven’t read this one but it sounds intriguing. Yes, I agree that it’s such a shame when a good read gets bogged down in the muddy middle.

  • Monika, I definitely want to read this one; Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves) reminded me about this one recently and it keeps getting pushed to the side. I enjoy reading different perspectives on a particular work; I think I would enjoy this one, so I’m going to have to make time for it! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • I really love that you compared this to a classic because I hadn’t really thought of it before, but I totally agree…it really does have that sense to it. I’m such a Wolitzer fan, I can’t help myself.

  • Darlene @ Lost in Literature

    The only Wolitzer I’ve read is Sleepwalking, her first novel. I reviewed it a couple of months ago. I found the writing to be exquisite like you did and sort of gushed about it on the blog. The Wife is on my radar as well as The Interestings. Thinking about reading all of hers in order since I started at the beginning anyway.

  • I like your honest take on it. I havent read it yet but now I know what to expect going in. Maybe I should pick up The Interestings first. thanks

  • Another Wolitzer book and I am still not on board!