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The Wife

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  5,269 Ratings  ·  720 Reviews

"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 C
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Scribner (first published March 25th 2003)
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe Unwanted Wife by Natasha AndersThe 19th Wife by David EbershoffThe Paris Wife by Paula McLainThe Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aliki Barnstone
Jun 12, 2013 Aliki Barnstone rated it it was amazing
Some reviewers have said they find the wife's motivations unbelievable. They must be younger people, who didn't experience the transformation that feminism brought about for women writers. I'm both glad and concerned that they can take for granted the opportunities that have opened up for women. This book captures exactly the bind women have been in for most of history; in this case Joan Castleman comes of age in the '50s. The book is wonderfully written, engaging, historically accurate, and man ...more
Jul 27, 2009 Mischelle rated it really liked it
This was a great book. The only two drawbacks are that she used some strong profanity in parts and that from the beginning you can figure out the ending. However, the following passage makes up for it (I read it to my husband) "Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib in the middle of the night, on the way to Stop and Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path ...more
Mar 25, 2016 Cher rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-misc
3 stars - It was good.

What an odd, despondent little book. This was the first book I have read by Wolitzer and I was struck by her unique writing style - very candid and frank, yet at the same time ornate and flowery. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but it is the best way I can describe it. Her distinctive writing style is enough to make me want to pick up another book by her. This particular story, however, became slow somewhere on the back 1/2, and the big "reveal" at the ending was obvious t
Nicole Bonia
Dec 23, 2009 Nicole Bonia rated it it was amazing
“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.”

Joan Castleman is on an airplane accompanying her husband, writer Joseph Castleman, to Helsinki, Finland where he is being honored with the Helsinki Prize in Literature, one step down from the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he knows that he will not get. Over the next four days, Joan revisits their courtship a
I'm sick of the lovelorn and unrequited: give me a woman who can't stand her husband, oddly enough, brought to my attention many years ago by my father, who always knows a a good author when he reads one, despite his congenital misogyny.

I'm in love so far, complete love, like a Philip Roth novel if Philip Roth weren't so flawed and frustrating. Bad analogy perhaps but she has the same comfort with describing male0-female interactions, a biting sense of humor, a lack of shame regarding human wea
Meg Wolitzer tornou-se conhecida dos leitores portugueses depois da publicação de Os Interessantes (Teorema | 2014), ainda que este não tenha sido o primeiro livro da autora a sair por cá; na verdade, A Mulher, agora publicado igualmente pela Teorema, já tinha conhecido uma edição portuguesa em 2009, pela editora Caleidoscópio.

A Mulher é narrado na primeira pessoa por Joan Castleman, uma sexagenária casada com o famoso escritor Joe Castleman. No início da narrativa, encontramo-los num avião rum
Apr 17, 2016 Bokbabbel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookish
"Wives are meant to be the sources of comfort, showering it like wedding rice."

"We gave them everything we had. All our possessions were theirs. Our children were theirs. Our lives belonged to them. Our weary, been-through-the-mill bodies were theirs, too, though more often than not they didn't want them anymore."
Sep 07, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic. I love the unique perspective of the protagonist: an introspective and talented woman who grew up in the 50s who spends her life married to a famous novelist who is really nothing more than a big kid. She makes a decision that historically stymes feminists, but this book gives her perspective in a fresh and convincing new way.

She's got fresh, beautiful ways of looking at things that are so perfect and sharp and spot-on that it leaves you wondering why you hadn't come to t
Nancy K
Jul 12, 2013 Nancy K rated it really liked it
I always read a handful of reviews before I make my own comments, just to see where others are coming from.

I'm seeing a lot of discussion about unlikable characters (I agree) and the author not giving the married partners a chance to demonstrate what made the marriage fail in the way of dialogue and daily interactions (also true).

But to those who say that Joan was a spoiled, stay-at-home mother who made the choice to give up her career, I say that's not fair.

Women didn't have the same opportunit
Mar 18, 2011 Cerealflakes rated it liked it
I had a hard time deciding how many stars to give this one. I ended up giving the author the benefit of the doubt and went with three instead of two. The main character, Joan, was almost unbearable as her older self. I found her much easier to deal with as her younger self. The beginning of the book was about the older characters and I nicknamed them Joe (which, coincidentally was actually the husband's name) and Wendy after Joe and Wendy Whiner. These two were a perfect match for each other. Sh ...more
Jun 20, 2008 Elysabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 20, 2015 Caryn rated it really liked it
One of the most accurate portrayals of marriage I've read. And my favorite line: "Everyone needs a wife. Wives need wives." That really resonated with me. So true!
Sunny Shore
Jul 25, 2009 Sunny Shore rated it really liked it
I read this 220 page book in one evening and one morning. It's chick lit at the highest level and so well-written. The author sets you up for the twisted ending - that's all I'll say, but you don't really see it coming. I had to give it a 5 - it was that good. The narrator is a little too giving and her husband is a little too much of a macho pig, but it works here and you understand everything at the end. Read it - you won't put it down.
Jun 24, 2016 megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, ebook
4.5 Stars
Meg Wolitzer is a magnificent writer - It's not about her ability to tell a story, but how she tells it. She doesn't cut corners.
Judy Mann
May 27, 2015 Judy Mann rated it liked it
I am completely at a loss here. There were times in this book - in the first hundred pages- when I was so astounded by Meg Wolitzer's writing that I was almost overwhelmed.Really- There are mediocre writers who tell stories and then there are brilliant writers who tell stories. Meg Wolitzer is in my mind- a brilliant writer. Now keep in mind that I can't stand adjectives at all. If I see more than two adjectives on the first page- I am gone. I hate fluttery curlicues in a book. I just hate adjec ...more
Karen C.
Nov 29, 2011 Karen C. rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing
The Wife. Meg Wolitzer. 2003. Scribner. 219 pages. ISBN 0743456661.

If you've never read a novel by Meg Wolitzer, you're in for a treat, especially if you've chosen to read The Wife.

As the wife of a successful writer, Joan Castleman makes the decision to leave her husband while in the midst of a flight to Helsinki to attend an award ceremony on his behalf. As Wolitzer switches between past and present, thus unfolds the story of the Castleman's relationship spanning forty years; which according to
Oct 15, 2008 Katie rated it it was ok
It's weird, because this book frets over competence vs. brilliance and the scope of the female writer vs. the male writer, and... it's, in my opinion, a competent book by a female writer. Awkward.

Not to be flippant. I was really engaged and think Wolitzer is a tremendously thoughtful writer, word to word. It's just that I needed to believe that the Castleman novels that had received such accolades and moved the plot forward so many times actually existed and had been conceived by this great mind
Emily Wortman-wunder
Apr 28, 2008 Emily Wortman-wunder rated it it was ok
Alas, I was disappointed by The Wife...I liked The Position quite a bit, and I was interested to read a book about suppressed creativity, and the forces that can go about suppressing it...only to find out, of course, that the creativity in question was not suppressed! At all! In fact, it was richly rewarded, if only to the wrong person. Which was a great joke, etc., but didn't really answer the deep-seated question I brought to the book, which was: what is this thing called creativity, anyway? H ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Ann-sofie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Läs i ett svep-bok. Så intressant om författande, om män och kvinnor och om att vara "Det är kvinnan bakom allt" Mycket bra!
Patti's Book Nook
I nabbed this novel from the Pack Memorial Library free cart in Asheville, North Carolina over a recent weekend getaway. I've read Wolitzer's Ten Year Nap, and have The Interestings in queue.
There is something profoundly intense about Wolitzer's style. This account of a troubled marriage, filled with infidelity and shortcomings, sheds light on the wife's background role in an uneven relationship with a famous novelist. There are some This reminded me a bit of Lily Tuck's writing in I Married
Julie lit pour les autres
Sep 07, 2016 Julie lit pour les autres rated it really liked it
Lu en français : La doublure

Une histoire mordante écrite sur un ton acide, qui est narrée par Joan, l'épouse du titre, un personnage doté d'une voix aussi forte qu'elle se fait discrète dans la vie courante. Le roman débute dans un avion en route vers Helsinki, où Joan prend la décision de quitter son mari.

Ce roman explore la relation complexe de Joan et de Joe Castleman, son écrivain de mari, des années 50 jusqu'aux années 90. C'est une réflexion sur la place des femmes dans la société américai
Manik Sukoco
Jan 01, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
This novel's auspicious opening sentence, combined with other readers' hints of a surprise ending, tantalized me into ordering the book. However, as early as the first chapter I guessed the "secret" underlying the story but kept reading to the end just to see if I was right.
Joan Castleman is a disgruntled wife who provides a first person account of her 45 year marriage to Joe, a vain, self-satisfied, unfaithful man who happens to be a very successful author. The story opens with her decision to
Rachel León
Sep 07, 2016 Rachel León rated it it was amazing
Meg Wolitzer is one of my new favorite writers. This short novel was incredible. It took me so long to read only because I didn't want it to end.
May 30, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-673

Intimate. If I had to describe Meg Wolitzer's The Wife in one word that's what it would be. Intimate not only in scope, focusing on Joan's struggles with her marriage, but in form as well, with the entire novel told entirely from her perspective in a kind of stream of consciousness. As a narrative tool, it succeeds, genuinely feeling like you're spending 200 or so pages inside Joan's head, experiencing Helsinki and the memories it conjures up right along with her.

Still, despite the intimacy of t

May 10, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
What I knew about this book stemmed from people commenting on the writing. What that means to me is that the ways information is conveyed on the page is unique, thoughtful and not cliche. It means that no matter what the subject, a person will want to turn the page because the words are arranged just so that you the reader are being entrusted with something. There isn't any other fancy element to the story. You don't need a crazy plot or a mystery to see to the end or juicy gossipy chick literat ...more
Anita Kelley Harris
The beginning of this book really grabbed me. The voice was moving and the early plot was interesting: a woman is on an airplane with the husband she had been with for a long time, and has decided at that very moment to leave him.

Of course, such a decision is never made at that very moment. A lot has gone into such a decision. And so the narrator takes us back with her through the history of the relationship between her and her husband. We find out that it began in the 1950's, when she was his c
Apr 20, 2008 Pooch rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 10, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it
This book begins with Joan Castleman deciding to leave her husband Joe onboard a flight headed to Helsinki where Joe will be honored with a major literary prize. Joan has spent her life subjugating her own literary talents to help prop up Joe’s career as a novelist, and now at 64, hurtling to Finland, she’s tired of it.

Despite being only 220 pages, the characters are complex and well-developed, the scenes are vivid, and the pace and plot felt very thoughtful. This was the first book by Wolitzer
Heidi B.
May 25, 2016 Heidi B. rated it really liked it
I knew when Meg Wolitzer used the imagery of the cheerios with the dusty sediments at the bottom that I was going to like this book. She was able to capture the reality of what it means to be a wife and mother in the little details to make us really connect with the character throughout. The way that she used imagery, wry humor (a Jewish man with a pig heart valve is the perfect image of the hypocrisy of J. Castleman), and crisp dialogue made this book an easy read. The use of flashback was effe ...more
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Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Ten-Year Nap and seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.

Author photo copyright Deborah Copaken.
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“Everyone needs a wife; even wives need wives. Wives tend, they hover. Their ears are twin sensitive instruments, satellites picking up the slightest scrape of dissatisfaction. Wives bring broth, we bring paper clips, we bring ourselves and our pliant, warm bodies. We know just what to say to the men who for some reason have a great deal of trouble taking consistent care of themselves or anyone else. “Listen,” we say. “Everything will be okay.” And then, as if our lives depend on it, we make sure it is.” 3 likes
“I’ve always had a fear of being small and ordinary. “How can I just have this one life?” 1 likes
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