The Wife

The Wife

Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
On the eve of her husband's receipt of a prestigious literary award, Joan Castleman, who has put her own writing ambitions on hold to support her husband, evaluates her choices and decides to end the marriage.

Simon and Schuster
"The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility. Just like our marriage." So opens Meg Wolitzer's compelling and provocative novel The Wife, as Joan Castleman sits beside her husband on their flight to Helsinki. Joan's husband, Joseph Castleman, is "one of those men who own the world...who has no idea how to take care of himself or anyone else, and who derives much of his style from the Dylan Thomas Handbook of Personal Hygiene and Etiquette." He is also one of America's preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award to honor his accomplishments, 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, Wolitzer flashes back fifty years to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village -- the beginning of the Castleman relationship -- and follows the course of the famous marriage that has brought them to this breaking point, culminating in a shocking ending that outs a carefully kept secret.

Wolitzer's most important and ambitious book to date, The Wife is a wise, sharp-eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she's made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it's also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man's world.

Publisher: New York : Scribner, [2003]
Copyright Date: ©2003
ISBN: 9780684869407
Branch Call Number: FIC Wolitzer, M 2003
Characteristics: 219 pages ; 22 cm


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May 16, 2019

I gotta say I wasn't a fan of this book. It was as though I was waiting for something amazing to happen, as though the entire book was just one big build-up that ultimately fizzles out, anticlimactically, in the end. I would not recommend this title.

Apr 03, 2019

"Contemporary novels by men often seemed to include Homeric catalogs of information, moving from the costs of things to what they felt and tasted like."
I imagine a lot of people (including me) are reading this 2003 novel because of the recent film adaptation with Glenn Close. This a nice feminist twist on the great male novelist theme. I also like her novels "The Interestings" and "The Female Persuasion."

JCLHeatherC Mar 14, 2019

There was only one way for this story to end and it wasn't nearly as satisfying as it should have been. Little hints planted throughout the book give away the 'twist' but in a subtle way.

nwhite1 Mar 07, 2019

After seeing the film, I've added this book to my "to read" list. I'm interested in finding out what changes they made to the plot for the movie, which the library also has available to borrow:

Feb 21, 2019

Well written, this novel grabs you from the first sentence. Wolitzer nicely balances the storyline with the back story of how Joan comes to the decision, 35,000 feet in the air on her way to Helsinki, to leave her husband

Feb 11, 2019

Joe and Joan meet as college creative writing teacher and student. Later they spend long lives as husband and wife. He becomes a noted writer; she is a mother and supportive spouse. The couple arrive in Helsinki for Joe to receive a prestigious award. But, below the surface, something more seems about to happen.

This month’s NYT/PBS NewsHour reading choice and the book used to write the screenplay for actor Glenn Close’s Oscar-nominated role as Joan in the movie of the same name. Kind of a mystery told from Joan’s point of view. Page turner, although ending not as surprising as hyped.

Jan 12, 2019

Seemed like the British type of dry humour.
Wondered how the movie went as most comments were in her head
and not vocal. A quick read.

Jan 03, 2019

For any woman who has or is married to a Type A this is a great laugh out loud story. I read most of it in Glenn Close's voice. Enjoy!

Jan 02, 2019

Unfortunately, I saw the movie first, but reading the book was very worthwhile. Wolitzer’s writing is cracking good – tight, caustically funny and bang-on with her descriptors. It’s an intimate look at marriage from the bitter wife’s perspective and a commentary on gender politics.

ArapahoeJulieH Oct 01, 2018

A review of a woman's marriage to a preeminent novelist and her contributions to his success.
This made for an interesting discussion in our book group. I'm not sure of the author's point of reference time wise as this seemed to be of her mother's generation.

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