Marguerite's Reviews > The Wife

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
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's review
Aug 22, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: feminism, contemporary-fiction

This book is a gem. Joan Castleman, the novel's narrator, belongs to my mother's generation, but the trade-offs necessitated by marriage and motherhood haven't changed and Meg Wolitzer (via Joan) speaks of the double standard for husbands and wives/male writers and female writers eloquently. The action in the story takes place over just a few days, with generous flashbacks for context. I did anticipate the ending, but won't give it away. Wolitzer's writing makes this a quick read. She also made me stop and think with these pearls of wisdom:

"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 help at all, for they were somewhere else entirely, out walking in the world by themselves. But wives, oh wives, when they weren't being bitter or melancholy or counting the beads on their abacus of disappointment, they could take care of you with delicate and effortless ease."

"She knew nothing about this subculture of women who stayed, women who couldn't logically explain their allegiances, who held tight because it was the thing they felt most comfortable doing, the thing they actually liked."

"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."

"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."

"I would have seen for myself that even beneath a thick lacquer of formality, there often was a stirring toward love."

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