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The Pretend Wife

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  1,265 ratings  ·  219 reviews
What would life be like with the one who got away?

For Gwen Merchant, love has always been doled out in little packets—from her father, a marine biologist who buried himself in work after her mother’s death; and from her husband, Peter, who’s always been respectable and safe. But when an old college boyfriend, the irrepressible Elliot Hull, invites himself back into Gwen’s
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Bantam (first published 2009)
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe 19th Wife by David EbershoffThe Aviator's Wife by Melanie BenjaminThe Merry Wives of Windsor by William ShakespeareThe Pretend Wife by Bridget Asher
The Wife Book
5th out of 42 books — 14 voters
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138th out of 169 books — 56 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,337)
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Some books are black and white: you either love them or you hate them. Others are gray, bringing on feelings of indifference or tepidness. Then there are the books that surprise you, the books you thought you would adore, but ended up disliking or the book that started out dull and dry, but became a favorite.

Bridget Asher’s The Pretend Wife falls into the last category. When I first started reading it, I simply couldn’t connect. Perhaps it was because I had the television on in the background. P
Jan 08, 2014 Mo rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
I started reading this book before the holidays, and put it aside so that I could read something a little more "Christmas-y". I should have just left it on the shelf - where it belonged.

I just never got this book. Maybe because I didn't care for the main character?

Basically, she's never really happy. But she's happy settling. Because she just doesn't really do anything about it except change jobs often.

Until one day a guy she dated for 2 weeks (2 weeks!!) in college shows up behind her at an ice cream parlor. And her husband invites this guy to a party. And then this guy tells everyone at the party how he is pretending to be married to make his dying mother happy. So of course
When Gwen Merchant unexpectedly bumps into Elliot Hull, a man whom she had dated furiously for three weeks during college, her seemingly perfect life and perfect marriage are dragged under a microscope for examination. It isn’t until what could have been presents itself that Gwen begins to question the difference between love and marriage. At the encouragement of her husband, Gwen poses as Elliot’s wife in order to appease his mother Vivian on her deathbed. At the dying woman’s insistence, Gwen ...more
This book was kind of entertaining, but I agree with other reviewers who asked, "What about the main character could you fall in love with?" She was kind of lost, and didn't have many defining characteristics, if any. Also, the author seemed to be a believer in the sort of nebulous, squishy "working through issues" view of things. I have lost a parent, and I still wanted to yell at the main character, "Ok, you lost your mom over 20 years ago! Do you have to mention it on every single page?" I fo ...more
This was by far the best book I have read in a long time. The book starts off with 2 men rolling around on the lawn fighting. Then we get the back story of how that came to be. Gwen Merchant is standing in line at an ice cream shop when a man behind her orders 2 scoops of Gwen Merchant. When she turns around it is a guy she knew had dated in college, Elliot Hull. She introduces him to her husband Peter and he ends up going to a party with them.

During the party Gwen chokes on some food and Ellio
Jul 24, 2011 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Was it just the right book, at the right time? I don't know, but I loved this book. I almost gave it five stars, but I'll have to read it again before I give it that honor.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, and the style of writing. I loved the metaphors she used, such as, standing in a field holding a rake over your head to ward off the eagles that might carry you off, to represent facing your fears. This book was such a good description of living an examined, thoughtful life.

All in all, I w
Here's a good summer fluff by the pool read. People magazine recommended it for summer reading and it totally does it justice. If you ran into the guy that got away and he asked you to be his pretend wife for a weekend to fulfill his dying mom's wish- would you? Would you if you were already married to a good guy who said it was ok? This is a fun, sweet look into life and love and discovering what's important in life and relationships.
What a sweet book, really enjoyable. And in addition to being sweet, the writing was smart with none of that awkward diction or overwrought flourishes I associate with chick lit. And I liked how the central plot--a woman who poses as a former boyfriend's wife for the weekend because his mother is dying of cancer--actually foregrounds much larger issues of loss, history, regret, passion and "two paths that diverged in a yellow wood."
(Spoiler alert) I was liking this book until the end and trying to figure out how I wanted it to end. I was torn, because I wanted Gwen and Elliot to have their grand love affair, but I felt bad because she was more or less happily married. But, I lost a lost of respect for the author by wrapping it up neatly by making us hate the husband at the end. Should have kept the depth and not taken the cheap way out.
Maybe even five starts, not sure. But I really liked this book. At first I wasn't so sure, seemed like it might be about infidelity, and I really don't like reading about that, or I thought maybe it would be a silly romantic comedy, but it turned out to be about love and grief and being truly happy. A really sweet, engaging story with characters you could really understand.
I thought at first that I would dislike this book - it seemed kind of "fluffy" - but turned out to be a good read - a married woman agrees to pretend to be the wife of an old boyfriend - has to confront issues from her past and present life.
Chick lit with depth. I'll probably look for more of her books. She does a far better job with dialogue than most people. Actually sound like real conversations! And I like that she didn't give the main character an easy way out.
K. East
No surprises here -- you know what's going to happen from the first sentence. It's a pie-in-the-sky romance, pure and simple. But having been married twice and engaged a couple of other times, I found the character's introspection familiar, especially the growing sensation that perhaps you married someone you really never got to know very well, and now that you have more experience, realize that perhaps you made an eyes-wide-open mistake. I had a friend once tell me that marriage had less to do ...more
Bridget Asher seems to truly understand the depths of sorrow, regret, memory, and loss. I have only read this novel and her more recent 'The Provence Cure for the Broken-Hearted.' In both books, she attaches detailed, relatable memories to significant moments of the story- and she weaves this net with flawless compassion for her characters. And although 'Provence Cure' had me reaching for tissues, that's not the case at all with the more light-hearted 'Pretend Wife.'

Many have already commented o
From AP: ¶ "The Pretend Wife" (Bantam Books Hardcover, 273 pages, $22), by Bridget Asher: Gwen Merchant believes she has the perfect marriage. She's even a bit smug about it until her college sweetheart walks up behind her in an ice-cream shop and orders two scoops of her.
¶ Suddenly, Gwen is wondering what her life would have been like if she hadn't refused to answer Elliot Hull's calls after a fight over something she can't even remember.
¶ She finds out when her husband, Peter, volunteers her t
The main character of the book, Gwen Merchant, meets up with an old boyfriend from college, Elliott Hull. Gwen’s husband, Peter, invites Elliott to a party where Gwen chokes on some food and Elliott gives her the Heimlich. Peter is grateful and tells Elliott that they owe him. Elliott brings up the fact that his mother is deathly ill and he told her he got married to make her happy, when, in fact, he didn’t. This sets into motion Gwen pretending to be Elliott’s wife for the sake of his mother. W ...more
For Gwen Merchant, love has always been doled out in little packets—from her father, who lost himself in work after her mother’s death, and from her husband, Peter, who’s always been respectable and safe. But when an old college boyfriend, the irrepressible Elliot Hull, invites himself back into Gwen’s life with a surprising proposition, she suddenly starts questioning everything she’s ever expected from love. Elliot, it turns out, is in need of a pretend wife, just for the weekend, in order to ...more
Patti K
When you start a book in the morning and finish it before bed without focusing solely on the book all day, you know you've read something you really liked. Well, that's true for me, anyway; I read reasonably fast but I'm not a speed reader. This book was one of those reads, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My review from here will contain spoilers, so if you don't want them, stop here.

**********SPOILER ALERT****************

First, I liked the pacing of the book and that she mixed in the bits of the p
An introspective, ponderous novel about a woman who bumps into a college flame and suddenly finds herself questioning her life, marriage, and choices. Asher takes a somewhat silly premise -- Gwen agreeing to pose as Elliot's wife to appease his dying mother -- into a series of lovely, eye-opening moments that set the main character on a new course. It took me a while to get into the story, and some of the characters are cliche, but still an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
Gwen is eraan gewend weinig aandacht en liefde te krijgen. Haar vader, een zeebioloog, stortte zich na de dood van haar moeder volledig op zijn werk. En haar man, de altijd even beheerste en brave Peter brengt ook weinig opwinding in haar leven. Als ze plotseling haar ex-vriendje van vroeger, de uitbundige Alex tegenkomt, herinnert ze zich hun intense liefde als de dag van gisteren. Als Alex haar vraagt om te doen alsof ze zijn verloofde is zodat hij de laatste wens van zijn stervende moeder kan ...more
I picked this one up because the author's name is Bridget...or at least her pen name is Bridget. Also, I couldn't remember the last chick lit book I had read and decided August was the perfect time to give one a go.

Basically, if you've ever read chick lit or if you've ever seen a rom-com, you'll smell this silly plot coming a mile away. I could have told you exactly what would happen and when within the first twenty pages of the book. Nay, I might have even been able to tell you what happened h
Best lines:

A marriage is a conversation that's supposed to last a lifetime, We didn't have enough to say to each other. A lifetime's worth of material is a lot of material. What's wrong with just being quiet together.

What is marriage? How does it operate in private, in public? What's its role for the individuals involved and in society at large? And, of course, what I really want to know was what marriage had to do with me, personally, what did it want from me, what did I owe it, and what did it
A married woman meets an ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend has a dying mother. The ex-boyfriend tells his mother that he has married when he has not. The married woman agrees to be the pretend wife for a visit to the mother. The plot developed more deeply than I originally envisaged
It will be difficult to give a review without spoiling the ending, but here goes.

There were a lot of things I liked about this book. It was well written. I also found the author had a lot of very insightful observations of relationships/love/perceptions of others. My favorite being: Marriage is a conversation that lasts a lifetime. (I read an article written by Bridget Asher in Real Simple that said this very quote and liked it so much I checked out this book.)

What I didn't like: Why do characte
I liked this book and read it in two sittings. The author has startling insightfulness into a relationship that is "good enough" but not "great". What I didn't like was how easy she made it for Gwen. What started out as a really tough question of honoring your commitments in a relationship that has nothing wrong with it to take a better offer became a non-question, a no-brainer. **** SPOILER**** The Peter/Helen affair was just to convenient, it gave her the perfect out she was looking for to pur ...more
"Gwen stumbles into an old boyfriend, Elliot, at an ice cream shop and it changes her life forever. Events lead Gwen to pretend to be Elliot's wife for a weekend. Elliot's mother, Vivian, is dying and one of her wishes is that Elliot settle down and get married. [return][return]During a weekend stay at a lake house, Gwen falls in love with Elliot's family and begins to question the relationship she has with her husband, Peter, and father. She also seeks more information about the death of her mo ...more
I couldn't get into this book. It seemed a bit like a soap opera and I didn't find the characters likeable. I only got through a couple chapters before deciding it wasn't worth reading.
Maybe some of her other books are better.
Elizabeth Zundel
I picked up this book thinking it would be light fluff reading (sort of a Janet Evanovich type book). And it was, to a point, but it had a bit more to it.

It is about a woman with some unresolved issues in a marriage that is unsatisfying; only she doesn't realize it is unsatisfying until she mets an old college boyfriend who needs her to be a "pretend" wife for his dying mother's peace of mind. Going through this experience shows her what is missing in her life and also helps her get most of her
What would you do if you ran into your old flame from college? What would you do if he asked you to pretend to be his wife for a weekend?

Gwen Merchant has been thrust into this exact situation. She runs into Elliot Hull at an ice cream shop and learns that he has lied to his dying mother. But that’s not all! You see, Gwen is married. And running into Elliot is a painful reminder of the life (and love) she could have had.

So, Gwen does act as Elliot’s pretend wife. She spends an extended weekend a
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Things you should know about Bridget

Bridget Asher is a high-powered neurotic with an anxious heart that sometimes kicks up unexpectedly like a lawnmower motor in her chest. And because she's looked at the bios and author photos of a large number of other authors, she believes that she needs to attach a warning label or an advisory report or an apologia of some sort because...

1. She does not have a
More about Bridget Asher...
The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted My Husband's Sweethearts My Husband's Sweethearts and The Pretend Wife 2 in 1 All of Us and Everything: A Novel Reader's Digest Select Editions, Volume 315, 2011 #3: Safe Haven / The Sentry / An Irish Country Courtship / The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted

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“If you let fear make decisions for you, fear will make good decisions - but only for its own sake, not yours. p. 161” 2 likes
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