Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Wife” as Want to Read:
The Wife
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Wife

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  18,367 ratings  ·  2,377 reviews
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING GLENN CLOSE

A husband. A wife. A secret. Behind any great man, there’s always a greater woman.

Joe and Joan Castleman are on an aeroplane, 35,000 feet above the ocean. Joe is thinking about the prestigious literary prize he is about to receive and Joan is plotting how to leave him. For too long Joan has played the role of supportive wife,
...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 6th 2018 by Vintage (first published March 25th 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Wife, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rose Haggart Its not really a spoiler. You figure it out pretty quickly as there are lots of clues.
june3 I agree with Marcie.
There are very few movies that can hold a candle to the depth and power of the original book. The Wife is not very long, and then…more
I agree with Marcie.
There are very few movies that can hold a candle to the depth and power of the original book. The Wife is not very long, and then you can read some of Meg Wolitzer's other books. My favorite is "The Interestings."(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,367 ratings  ·  2,377 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Aliki Barnstone
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mischelle
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Daniela
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, I had such high expectations for this and yet here we are.

The premise: a wife decides to divorce her husband after a life of continuous misery. She’s a white educated woman who married her slightly older husband in the 50s so her decision to persist in a relationship that has for nearly its entirety made her unhappy is understandable. At least the book asks the reader to understand, and the reader does. To be fair, it’s not so far-fetched; marriage in the 50s and 60s was a different socia
...more
Sawsan
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good written novel, a story of wrong compromises and sacrifices at life
the narrator, Joan the wife, has been married to successful author Joseph Castleman for over forty years, they were traveling where Joseph will receive a major literary award, but she has finally decided to leave him
the story of the Castleman couple is told in a series of flashbacks
the begining of their relationships in the mid 50s, Joe's success and fame, their children, and while Joan was trying to be a supportive wife, J
...more
Patricia Williams
This book was good and interesting but to me, not great. I enjoyed the read and had this book on my "want to read list" for a while but when I saw that it was being made into a movie with Glen Close as the star, I moved it up on my list. I think Glen Close will be perfect in this role. This was a story about a husband and wife where the husband was a famous author. The reviews of the book says it had a shocking ending but I had already figure it out because I've read so much about Zelda and Scot ...more
Barbara
3+ stars

The Wife is an interesting commentary on a forty-year marriage. Joe Castleman is a writer of little talent married to Joan, a gifted writer. It is her talent that makes him famous. He gets the credit, feeding his huge ego; she gets to write without facing the difficulties of competing in the literary politics dominating by men.

The humor and keen observations are right on. The book makes you think about what we give and take in a marriage. The Castleman's marriage begins in the '50s. Woul
...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
***UPDATE: I saw the movie on Monday and loved it. Thought it was so interesting to see the decisions made by the screen writers regarding what themes to beef up, which aspects of the characters' personalities to highlight or to soften. And even some of the bigger details were changed completely. Glenn Close deserves the accolades she is getting for this performance.***

I picked this book for our book club, as I thought it would be so much fun to have a corresponding “go to the movies night” to c
...more
Nicole Bonia
May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
...more
Cheeky Cher
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
...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

Having never read Meg Wolitzer before I was pleasantly surprised. Her mastery of characters is rich and fulfilling. This story, based mostly on two people, progresses slowly in the beginning, like trying to climb a smooth boulder, then turns into something far more subtle and powerful. This novel covers over forty years of a marriage - one, you may say was one-sided. But after a series of disclosures, the novel ends with it's own unique surprise, buoyed by a profound balancing act, mak
...more
Yulia
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
...more
Kelly
I didn’t love this the way that I expected to, given the breathlessness that has seemed to surround it. The end was certainly, as advertised, pretty compelling and something I wrestled with for awhile before I could drift off to sleep last night. But I did not love the writing in any consistent way. For every excellent line there were three heavy handed and overwrought metaphors and insights that my kindle tells me many people highlighted but none of which struck me as especially memorable. The ...more
Mindy
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2018
I'm in love with this author's writing. I can't wait to read more of her work. The writing deserves 5 stars. I didn't love where the story went at the end though, so I'm going with 4 stars. Instead of going into the plot, I'm going to leave a quote that says so much about this story.

"Joe once told me he felt a little sorry for women, who only got husbands. Husbands tried to help by giving answers, being logical, stubbornly applying force as though it were a glue gun. Or else they didn't try to h
...more
Julie
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was an amazing read! At first, I baulked at the wife's cynicism, and wondered about coming back to this book at another time, however, I was able to make the adjustment and settled in for an amazing listening experience! This is not an escapist read, rather, it's more of what I would I consider realistic fiction, and it hit home on occasion. Time and again the incisive writing enthralled me and I would rush to try to capture what I had just heard. I even sent texts to myself if I happened t ...more
Caryn
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Holly
Sep 07, 2008 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
...more
Ifeyinwa
"In her [daughter's] worldview, bad marriages were simply terminated, like unwanted pregnancies. She knew nothing of this subculture of women who stayed, women who couldn't logically explain their allegiances, who held tight because it was the only thing they felt most comfortable doing, the thing they actually liked. She didn't understand the luxury of the familiar, the known: the same hump of back poking up under the cover in bed, the hair tufting in the ear. The husband. A figure you never st ...more
Joy
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film
This is the first book I've read by Meg Wolitzer. It's very well written and I almost gave it 4 stars. I liked the way Joan (the titular wife of the story) flashed back to the beginning of her life with Joe and the present day. I'm looking forward to seeing the film version. I hear great things about Glenn Close's performance as Joan.

I liked this book but it wasn't quite as good as I expected it to be.
Tanja Berg
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I added some kilometers to today’s run so that I’d be able to finish this audiobook. It had me hooked from the start with its scathing tone. It’s about what building a marriage on lies can do to you. The level of bitterness is among the highest I’ve encountered in a book. It’s fantastic, astute, true and on point.
William Cook
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on the strength of Ginger Bensman's review. In order to do the novel justice, I'll divide my review into two parts, style and content.

First, style. Meg Wolitzer is a marvelous writer, capturing turns of phrase, metaphors, and similes that are striking in their ability to convey a unique vision of relationships and the world around her. I confess that many times I found myself saying, "I wish I could write like that!" Her acerbic wit often elevates her descriptions of a thoroughl
...more
Elysabeth
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brittany
This book was interesting, and I can see it being good as a movie (hopefully). I definitely had a disguest for Joe throughout the entire book, and it was definitely realistic in a marraieg where someone doesn't want it to end becuase they don't want change, I think that happens too much. It was told well in some shorter flashbacks and all around a single present time event for an award. A quicker easy read, but nothing spectacular. Solid 3.5 stars.
Sunny Shore
Jul 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Maryam
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed after reading this book and I don’t get it why it was made into a movie. Maybe I read it in a bad time, I had just finished Shell Seekers and that was a spectacular novel. This one was average at the best.

Writing about a painful fact in history doesn’t make a book valuable. The writer needs to draw characters carefully, make them likable and mature. I didn’t experience any of this in The Wife. I’m probably in the minority group that didn’t enjoy this book though.
Hoss
Mar 19, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I got to the 'surprise' ending, I wish the characters were in the room with me so I could throw the book at them.
Janice
It is easy for many of us today to forget the limitations placed on women in the very recent past; for those who wanted more than the traditional marriage and children, the options were very limited, the exceptions to the rule very few. It is also easy to overlook, until we are somehow confronted in a way that catches us up short, the challenges that remain, and the very real danger of losing all that has been gained. Meg Wolitzer’s book “The Wife” can remind us of both, and it is rather telling ...more
Diane
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will you be my wife? Will you take care of me? Because everybody needs a wife!

I loved this story. I saw the film first, in September, well before it and in particular Glenn Close (go Glenn! You are so most deserving of Best Actress for this film!) got all the Academy Award attention. I was originally drawn to the story because it was a literary and academia themed one.

We open with Joe Castleman and his wife, Joan, as they are headed to Finland where Joe will receive the prestigious Helsinki aw
...more
Cerealflakes
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
Kathleen
I finished The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. I chose this book as a "twofer"- it works for Author of the Month and Off The Shelf, Books on the cover for my Goodreads Book Club.

Earlier this week I read LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson, so I was surprised and excited to read the following quote in THE WIFE:-
"'How can I just have this one life?' I used to ask my mother incredulously when I was twelve and sat at the dining room table in our apartment..."
There were no more surprises or excitement.

I underst
...more
Azita Rassi
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful prose, memorable descriptions, amazing characterization, and a fascinating twist. It was a slow read for me but a delightful one. Unique in many ways.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Screen & Page: The Wife 1 6 Jul 23, 2018 03:34PM  
Goodreads Librari...: New page count 2 17 Sep 11, 2017 03:10PM  
MEG WOLITZER RECOMMENDATIONS 2 32 Apr 21, 2013 10:17AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Macbeth
  • Witch Water (Witch Saga, #2)
  • Like Never and Always
  • Unicorn Crossing (Phoebe and Her Unicorn, #5)
  • The Norton Sampler: Short Essays for Composition
  • Seeking the Dead (Joe Plantagenet, #1)
  • The Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue (The Contract With God Trilogy, #1-3)
  • The Underground Railroad
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette
  • Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly (Hercule Poirot, #45.7)
  • The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction
  • Feminist Ryan Gosling: Feminist Theory (as Imagined) from Your Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude
  • Penance
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • Other People We Married
  • The Quality of Life Report
  • Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics
See similar books…
2,019 followers
Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Interestings, The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, The Wife, and Sleepwalking. She is also the author of the young adult novel Belzhar. Wolitzer lives in New York City.
“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.” 21 likes
“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 the Stop & Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children will ride serenely through life.” 14 likes
More quotes…