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The Pretend Wife

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,385 Ratings  ·  240 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 Merry Wives of Windsor by William ShakespeareThe Zookeeper's Wife by Diane AckermanThe Pretend Wife by Bridget Asher
The Wife Book
4th out of 42 books — 14 voters
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
139th out of 168 books — 63 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,614)
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Jan 08, 2014 Mo rated it it was ok
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.

Jul 29, 2010 Meredith rated it really liked it
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
May 13, 2009 Helen rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 04, 2009 Michelle rated it it was ok
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
Apr 12, 2011 Ramona rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 05, 2013 Christi rated it it was ok
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
★¸. • * ° * ༺*Blanka*༺*°°*•.¸. ♥★

Married woman Gwen Merchant agrees to pretend to be the newlywed of former beau Elliott Hull to appease his dying mom. Gwen, smothering in a marriage to Peter, jumps at the chance for a redo at an abruptly ended college romance, and it's a slippery slope that Gwen slides down with passion and verve, falling in love with Elliott and becoming attached to his sister and her precocious kids and the imperious and uncannily perceptive matriarch, Vivian. But while weaving one faux relationship, Gwe
Jul 05, 2009 Natalie rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 27, 2009 Sam rated it really liked it
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."
Nov 07, 2011 Sue rated it it was ok
(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.
Feb 12, 2016 Marieke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vanaf de eerste bladzijde was ik dol op dit boek. De personage vond ik geweldig, ze waren zo levendig. Ik kon het boek niet meer wegleggen, zodra ik eenmaal begonnen was. Zeker een aanrader!
Jul 26, 2015 Shelley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One star seems pretty harsh, so I made it a two, but it's just barely a "it was okay" rating.

It sounded like it was going to be a pretty interesting story plot that is until I started working myself through it. Then my brain basically went dead. It's a light read, but with a pretty depressing cast of characters.

The main character, Gwen wasn't even likable, and the only one even more unlikable was her husband, Peter. Their marriage was a "safe" and "respectable" marriage, in other words they wer
Jul 24, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it
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
Jun 03, 2016 Diane rated it did not like it
Ugh, this book was the worst. The main character is horrible, dull, lifeless, unintelligent, and basically pretty much a non-entity with no defining characteristics other than her inability to stick to anything or make anything of herself and her endless and unrealistic daily mentions of her dead mother.

This is not a woman someone (and a handsome, brooding, all-around-perfect someone to boot) falls endlessly in love with. In love with after three weeks of dating, years of long-term relationships
Jun 05, 2011 Kristy rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 01, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 09, 2011 Anna rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2014 K. East rated it liked it
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
Angela Emme
Sep 22, 2015 Angela Emme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pensavo di trovare un libro divertente e leggero, una storia romantica e un po' smielata e invece... "Moglie per finta" è un libro serio travestito da storia romantica, Gwen è una donna complessa e incastrata per propria scelta in un amore a piccole dosi, perché solo così sa accettarlo. Peter è il marito perfetto che le dà un matrimonio perfetto, ma solo in apparenza, tra loro non c'è una vera intimità, complicità; e infine arriva Elliot che sa amare di quell'amore travolgente e non a "pacchetti ...more
Carefree Toni
Be careful the games you play!

I knew this was going to be bad the moment she told us how the two met in college. Like a lot of us married people, I sometimes look around and can't believe my life. Her connection to what makes her unique gave me instant access to the problems she would encounter. I laughed (a lot), I was shocked, mad, I cheered and I was horrified by the rollercoaster ride. In the end, I was excited at the possibilities and smiled as I knew she (and he) would care for their relat
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
Sep 06, 2009 Michelle rated it it was ok
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
Nov 30, 2010 Noelle rated it really liked it
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
Jan 12, 2012 Veronica rated it really liked it
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
Jan 04, 2012 Patti K rated it really liked it
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
Jan 04, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it
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.
Dec 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Aug 20, 2013 Bridget rated it it was ok
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
Mar 16, 2013 Emilie rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2016 Ami rated it really liked it
Gwen runs into an old boyfriend who needs a "pretend wife" to make his dying mother feel better. Based on the very "chick lit" cover and premise, I was surprised by the novel's depth and thoughtfulness. What looked like a fluffy little romance, became work about loss, forgiveness, and not settling for "love in packets."
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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...

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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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