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The Meaning Of Wife

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  819 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
WHAT DOES "WIFE" MEAN TODAY? It’s a fascinating question that’s been receiving huge media and reader attention, fuelled by Anne Kingston’s provocative, timely book, soon to be published in the U.S. Traversing the complex landscape of contemporary wifehood, Kingston combines broad-ranging research with her own insights and wit, providing a fresh perspective on being a marri ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Piatkus Books (first published 2004)
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Sep 13, 2013 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a world in which 3rd wave feminism never happened, Feminine Mystique remains the last word on women's issues, a world in which the primary question of feminism remains "Are upper-middle-class white women happy?" Because this is apparently the world the author lives in.

I'd be willing to forgive that however, because hey, I'm an upper-middle-class white woman and it is a valid question whether or not I'm happy, but the author commits my pet peeve -- observation without argument. This book
Mar 02, 2015 Kerry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Man, I only got like 50 pages in and this is BO-RING. Again, no sense of humor? At all? Seriously?

The title is taken far too literally (except for the "provocative" part.) It's like a super-sized essay on how the role of "wife" has changed over the years, and the contradictory things it can mean today. Gee, thanks, I've been an alive feminist with a computer for the past twenty-odd years, I know . . . stuff. Like what you just said.

Bo to the ring.
Dec 05, 2007 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this book off and on for months now, and I finished it last night. I can't decide how I feel about it. I kind of enjoyed reading it, and yet it kind of made me angry about the way the world (Western world, at least) treats both married and single women, and the institution of the "WIFE".

It kind of made me want to get married and defy the stereotypes, and then it made me want to not get married EVER.

I will be checking out some of the sources listed in the bibliography, that's fo
Should have been called "The meaning of white, middle-to-upper class straight American wife." Because really, who else even counts? Interesting other than that, though.
Jun 06, 2013 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was awesome!

Before reading this book, I was the typical twenty something with my pinterest board titled "Someday", complete with dresses, bridesmaids gifts, and party favors. I imagined myself not having a huge wedding, but having a wedding with close friends and family. I genuinely felt like I wouldn't mind getting hitched for the rest of my life should I find the "right" person.

I was drawn to this book by the cover, and I really do judge books by their covers for better or for worse
Jun 12, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wedding
Every woman should read this, married or single, because being a woman meant being a wife for much of our culture's history.

Despite the funny cover, I was worried this book would be too academic and difficult to read or that is would be prescriptive and tell me what to think, both turnoffs. While it is dense it is easy to read, and very thought-provoking without feeling heavy-handed. When you thoroughly investigate all the implications of "wife," past and present, you have a broad topic indeed!
Jul 13, 2015 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot of promise and, unfortunately, does not deliver on that promise. Kingston's project is enormous-- what does "wife" mean in the 21st century? She focuses primarily on sources in popular culture (e.g. "Time" magazine articles, editorials in "The Wall Street Journal," the TV show "Sex and the City," and many Hollywood films, etc) mixed with a little bit of academic research, mostly from the fields of sociology and anthropology. There are two problems with this approach. First, s ...more
Alex Rice
I really enjoyed this book. The book explores the role of the wife in society from a historical perspective and does a very good job illustrating how that role has changed over time. I think I found the book interesting because I was able to compare my views on a wife and marriage to the views the author has. I have to say that being a 17 year old “man” that my perspective on my life as it relates to marriage is dramatically different than the perspective author has. The author speaks of a time ...more
Aug 04, 2009 meosima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've picked up this book before. But because I'm surrounded by the engaged and newly-married, I felt like I should try it again.

There's this ... almost irrational anger I sometimes feel toward the wedding industry, and I've felt it ever since I registered countless brides and grooms at Williams-Sonoma. Maybe my feelings aren't irrational...

But regardless, I've never understood the advent of the bride-as-commodity, $1,000,000 wedding extravaganzas, the 'cake-must-match-the-invites-must-match-the
This book gives an interesting historical about the role of wife over the recent years (50 or so). It was interesting to read about university presidents and how the schools started paying the wives about $65,000/year to do the stuff that the wife of a university president does. But, it's the same old story throughout the book about how the woman takes a back seat to the man's career, keeps the household running smoothly so the man can concentrate on the career that is supposed to benefit the ho ...more
Sep 15, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
This is one of those books that when you finish it, you feel both wiser for the journey and completely sickened by what you've read. I recommend it for women, who need to get in touch with the history of female ownership throughout time, and I recommend it for men to get a sense of exactly what has been ingrained into the female psyche.

I will admit that it is at times, quite harsh, but like many books of this ilk, sometimes you have to read the extreme in order to better gauge the mainstream. To
Jun 17, 2014 Rebekah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I so wanted this book to be a thought-provoking, in-depth examination of what it means to be a "wife" in modern American society, but instead I found it incredibly tedious. The author requotes "woman on the street" quotes from newspaper articles in the 1990s multiple times as evidence of broad trends, which feels...lazy. It's not that I disagreed with her assessment of how fraught and constraining "wifehood" is; it's more that she could have made her points effectively in an Atlantic article, ra ...more
Mar 01, 2010 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: womens-studies
I count my blessings, so to speak, that I was born when I was and get to live in this time, in this place, when my decisions are my own and my life is mine. I can't thank my parents enough for enabling me to tell the bullshit from the worthwhile, and to have opinions of me own without falling for the 'everybody's doing it' trends and popularity contents. This book reminds me of how happy I am that I'm a stubborn, contrary bitch.
Emily Douglas
Jul 15, 2009 Emily Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women
A well-researched testament to why I find traditional marriage, wedding rings, and replacing your own name with your spouse's absurd.

Women who rarely find themselves fitting "in the box" will appreciate this book.

Women who have never stopped to question why they want the things they want (or what they're told they should want) should read this book.
Dec 15, 2013 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excuse the bullet points and fragments..

- Lively writing, not like a dull textbook. Reminded me of the assigned readings from my Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies classes from college.
- It is evident that the writer is well-read on feminist history/writing/theory while also paying close attention to current/recent events/trends/discussions. A lot of the analysis and observations are drawn from advertisements, visual media sales figures, popular culture, survey results, some anecdotes .. A goo
Oct 02, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone that is newly engaged and beginning the arduous task of planning a wedding and becoming a wife, I found this book quite fascinating. Kingston has done her homework and written an academic work but it still remains easy to read. She traces the term 'wife' throughout the ages, examining the feminist movements, delving into the social, sexual, and emotional realities in our culture forming our ideas of what it means to be a wife, to be single, and to be a woman. It's extremely hard to be ...more
Huda Khayyat
Aug 21, 2013 Huda Khayyat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
هذا الكتاب الرائع يأخذك في جولة زمنية في الماضي حيث كانت مهام الزوجة تتمحور حول العناية بالأطفال والمنزل ، وزوجها يقوم بالصيد وتوفير الطعام على المائدة. وتستعرض الكاتبة الأحداث المهمة التي طرأت عبر الزمن التي غيرت في مفهوم الزوجة و التي كانت نتائجها مساهمة المرأة في سوق العمل، التي بالتالي أثرت على العائلة ككل وخصوصا في موضوع الإنجاب. و تختم كتابها بعبارة مهمة، وهي ان حقوق المرأة كإنسان مرتبط ارتباط كلي بحقوقها الزوجية، وان المجتمعات الإسلامية المحافظة التي مازالت تهمش المرأة في سوق العمل ورأيها ...more
Feb 06, 2008 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Provocative Cover, Intellectual Text

Author Anne Kingston deserves five stars-plus for her exhaustive research and objective presentation of the subject. The Meaning of Wife, which is by no means a quick or light read, is well written, engaging, thought provoking and entertaining. If you are a wife, you'll find yourself somewhere in these pages. If you're not a wife, you may recognize your mother or your friends, or the woman you call your wife.

Kingston covers all the bases, beginning with the wo
This book is more a historical look at being a wife than it is self-help. As an unmarried woman, I primarily found the chapters on weddings and sex to be interesting, but the tone of the author is very pointedly negative, and there were some holes in her logic that she would not consider in pursuit of her agenda to lambaste the status quo.
Jan 18, 2014 Cyndie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cyndie by: Goodreads
As a total overachiever who wants to be good at everything, when I got married I kind of freaked out because I didn't know what it meant to be a "good wife" in this day in age and with my partner.

This book won't really clear it up for you, but at least you'll feel better that others and our culture and large also have a confusing relationship with the word.

The book's what you expect - it talks about what it meant to be a wife in the past and what it means today. Covers a broad range of topics
Mar 13, 2014 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a well written critique of the modern wedding industry complex in North America. I didn't choose to read this book because I thought it would be funny, I read it because I feel inundated with messages from our culture and media on the role of women and needed something that would justify how I actually felt.
Amy L. Campbell
Kingston looks at the institution of marriage, the role of wife, and the transition that occurs from single woman to engaged to married. There is a focus on how advertising and pop culture in the current and continued stereotype of the wife. I was a little disappointed that the author decided to use end notes rather than foot notes. I would have liked to have been able to track what information she got from where a little better. Still, not a bad read for someone considering the role of wife and ...more
Sep 05, 2008 Rachelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wives, mothers, women
Absolutely love this cover and I enjoyed holding it on the bus. The essays in this book are very well researched and written. Even though Kingston doesn't come to any conclusions about what one should or shouldn't think/do/be as a wife, she asks many thought-provoking (often rhetorical) questions. Is the power in making the choice to marry or not? To love a full-time career versus a desire to stay home and raise a family? How about being proud of being a wife and supporting the institution (and ...more
Mar 27, 2011 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book is very well researched and covers a lot of interesting angles of the topic of "wife" especially various movements (1950s housewives, to 1990s shoulderpadded career women to the new concept of "trophy husbands") but the book is very dense so you cannot read it very quickly.

I was disappointed that it doesn't offer much in the way of solutions, the final chapter does some summarizing but it's too little too late. Also I feel like the book really limited itself by only covering trends of
May 01, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book took me a while to get through; but, I should say that any book without a plot takes me a long time to read (which is why I mostly stick to fiction!). Some of the early chapters that recounted "the meaning of wife" through history were interesting. The later chapters, however, just pissed me off all the time. Why? I didn't think that this book fully addressed the modern meanings of wife. Unless, of course, your only definition of wife is a stay-at-home-mom ready to get a big divorce se ...more
Apr 02, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Personally, I felt like this book didn't give me much new information, not sure what I was expecting. I put it down a few weeks ago and honestly didn't think I would pick it back up. But this morning I did (by accident, grabbed the wrong book but didn't want to get back out of bed) and well, I finished it.

I tend to be the person who follows this sort of topic via magazine articles, other books...and I even realized from my law school education with Family
I wish I had found this book while I was writing all my gender studies papers in college. It's full of really interesting tidbits and the bibliography alone is worth checking it out from the library. There are some very interesting dialogues regarding the shifting role of women in marriage, particularly in light of the emerging widespread acceptance of same-sex unions across the globe.
Jun 29, 2010 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good discussion on modern women and their role in marriage. I set down the book half-way through because I was starting to feel radical/feminist/oppressed. The ideas in the book might be a bit radical, but also seeds of truth. For example, the commercial I saw a few days ago where the woman marries a man because of his awesome kitchen faucet, or how a friend's husband complains about cooking every day because he's in between jobs at the moment and his wife is taking on the role of bread winner ...more
Kathryn Lysko
I read this when it was first published and I was newly married. It's basically feminist ideas about women's identities when they become "the wife".
Leah Hortin
Sep 17, 2011 Leah Hortin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I couldn't get past the third chapter. I tried. It wasn't at all "provocative" - apprently you CANT judge a book by its cover. I was thinking it would be witty and fun. Yeah, no. It's not. I'm not much of a feminist, and I'm newly married and I just couldn't get into it. It all seemed like harsh generalizations strung along to form paragraphs that pretty much just bashed modern-women. At least that's my take. I tried to keep reading but it sat on my nightstand for weeks, untouched, so back to th ...more
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Anne Kingston's writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Saturday Night, Toronto Life and The Chicago Sun-Times Magazine. She is a columnist for the National Post, where she writes on social and cultural issues.
More about Anne Kingston...

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“There is no singular meaning of wife. That is the point. That is its meaning. To see the wife fully through a multi-faceted lens is one of the central challenges facing society in the twenty-first century. To do this, new scripts are required that employ wife as a verb and as a gender-neutral concept. These are essential if we are to create necessary new narratives, new ways of living as women and men together.” 3 likes
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