Melissa Crytzer Fry's Reviews > The Wife

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
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it was amazing

***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 compare the novel with the new movie featuring Glenn Close. Unfortunately, the movie’s actual release date was way later than advertised and won’t allow us to see it in theaters together or to see it as streaming by this weekend’s book club.

At any rate -- I’d never read a Meg Wolitzer book, and I have to say: I’m impressed with the whip-smart writing, the descriptive and unique metaphors, and the story… Writers may appreciate this book more than anyone – and my book club event will determine if that is the case – but I think there are parts of this story that will resonate with almost any woman. In fact, I’m downright excited for the upcoming discourse. With discussion questions like, “Discuss the quiet power of wives, particularly during the late ‘50s, when Joan is initiated into wifehood. Do you think the power wives wield is more visible today?,” I think we’ll have plenty to talk about!

Main character Joan’s comments are caustic and, so often, laugh-out-loud funny that my husband had to ask why I was chuckling as I was reading. “Nothing, nothing,” I’d say, as Joan continued with her philosophy of “the great men.” The author’s descriptions of common sights and occurrences, told through Joan’s eyes -- with vivid metaphor -- are classic. I highlighted a lot of passages in this novel. Consider:

“… she was always powdered and perfumed and large but noble: a sofa that walked.”

“Apparently the world was full of girls like this, each of them simmering in her own stewpot, waiting to be savored by the men who would come by, lift their lids, and inhale.”

Of the literary prize her husband wins: “Maybe other life-forms give out awards, too, and we just don’t know it: Best All-Round Flatworm; Most Helpful Crow.”

“When you watch your husband’s colon at work, at play, see the shy, starburst retraction of his sphincter, the amble of barium through an endless human hose, then you know that he is truly yours, and you are his.”

Not to be misunderstood: this is a serious book with serious themes about 'the wife’s' role in a relationship, about equality, about her own self-identity, about choices made, about regret, about resentment. In fact, with everything that is going on in light of women’s rights in the United States today, the timing couldn’t be better for the movie (Not coincidental, to be sure, since this book was published back in 2004). When I finally see the movie, I may pop back in to share thoughts of big-screen vs. print! I really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to see Close’s performance of Joan!
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Reading Progress

July 21, 2018 – Shelved
July 21, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
September 24, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri Wonderful review, Melissa! I only recently heard of the movie that is coming out, and didn't know it was based on a book... but your review is very convincing!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Cheri wrote: "Wonderful review, Melissa! I only recently heard of the movie that is coming out, and didn't know it was based on a book... but your review is very convincing!" It really was good, Cheri. Joan's snarky voice was often so funny, often so bitter ... just downright realistic, given the scenarios in this novel, I think. I cannot wait to go see the movie!


Elizabeth This book is on my list. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and Glenn Close is great!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Elizabeth wrote: "This book is on my list. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and Glenn Close is great!" I can't wait to watch it! Wondering how much they adapted and/or how close they stuck to the book! In the trailer, I think I already saw one change!


message 5: by Susanne (new)

Susanne  Strong Great review Melissa!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Susanne wrote: "Great review Melissa!"Thanks, Susanne!


message 7: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Terrific, Melissa!


message 8: by Cheri (new) - added it

Cheri Even happier knowing that you loved the movie, as well, Melissa!


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader So beautifully-written, Melissa! Now I want to read it and see the movie. You are right- how timely!


message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I read this novel a long time ago. I want to see the movie and see how it's interpreted! She is one of my favored authors.


message 11: by Karen (new)

Karen Awesome review Melissa! On my list!😊


Melissa Crytzer Fry Tammy wrote: "Terrific, Melissa!"Thanks, Tammy!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Cheri wrote: "Even happier knowing that you loved the movie, as well, Melissa!"You're the sweetest thing ever!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader wrote: "So beautifully-written, Melissa! Now I want to read it and see the movie. You are right- how timely!"You should! You should, Jennifer!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Barbara wrote: "I read this novel a long time ago. I want to see the movie and see how it's interpreted! She is one of my favored authors."If she's one of your top authors, then you MUST see the movie. Plus: I want to know what you think!!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Karen wrote: "Awesome review Melissa! On my list!😊"Thanks, Karen. And I suspect your list is as unruly as mine. Ha ha ha.


message 17: by Karen (new)

Karen Melissa wrote: "Karen wrote: "Awesome review Melissa! On my list!😊"Thanks, Karen. And I suspect your list is as unruly as mine. Ha ha ha."
Indeed it is 🤣


Stefanie Magee Magnuson Hi Melissa! Great Review!
I wanted to ask...should I read the book before watching or just be surprised and watch movie going in blind? The general consensus seems to be that both are equally wonderful so thinking maybe I should skip reading in this case? Thanks for your thoughts! 😊


Melissa Crytzer Fry Stefanie wrote: "Hi Melissa! Great Review!
I wanted to ask...should I read the book before watching or just be surprised and watch movie going in blind? The general consensus seems to be that both are equally wonde..."
Hmm. Tough call. I actually liked the book better than the movie (but that is almost ALWAYS the case with me). Indeed, they are both great. I'd say if you don't have the time to read it first, going right into the movie is fine. There are some distinct differences between book and movie (and I like to compare), but the 'overall' story is the same.


Stefanie Magee Magnuson Argh ok!
I'm going to read it first. I have it here on my lap (checked out from library) and I am only on page 3 and already love the snarky dialogue. I love to compare too, so here goes nothing! Thanks so much!


Melissa Crytzer Fry Stefanie wrote: "Argh ok!
I'm going to read it first. I have it here on my lap (checked out from library) and I am only on page 3 and already love the snarky dialogue. I love to compare too, so here goes nothing! T..."
Let me know what you think once you read AND watched (sorry I wasn't of much help). The snakiness was one of my favorite parts. Some of her observations are laugh-out-loud funny!


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