Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer Book Review

The Wife 
by Meg Wolitzer
Pages: 228
Kindle, $8.99
Paperback $10.11
  • ISBN-10: 1982106360
  • ISBN-13: 978-1982106362
  • Scribner; Media Tie-In edition 

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer has become a popular book and movie with rich possibilities for literary group discussions. Actually, there are questions for book clubs to discuss in the back of the book, so a reader needs to look no farther than inside the book for a discussion guide. It is very smart for publishers to include questions in their books and make it easy for people to have access to them. Also, readers can review the questions before arriving at the discussion which should enrich possible thoughts and answers.

The Wife book begins describing the lives of a husband, wife, and children without revealing very much about the complete situation. The timeline flashes back and forth from the award the husband is going to receive back to when they first met. In one such flashback, the children hold out their arms to the wife wanting attention when she is busy helping her husband edit, but it is not until very near the end of the book we find out she is a "working mother." The couple meets when he already has a wife and newborn baby. As a professor, he asks his then student to babysit. She does so, already feeling like she is falling in love with him. Events progress and they marry. The truth of the reasons they do so involves the way women writers are perceived and treated during those times, as well as probably being in love. What do they each get out of the marriage? From the beginning to the end, how do the books he publishes progress?

One person who wants to write a biography of Mr. Castleman, the famous author who will receivthe Helsinki Prize, is annoyingly perceptive and asks the wife (Joan Castleman) many personal questions. She reveals little to him, but he forms a theory anyway. In the book, the couple travels to Finland and the want-to-be biographer is independently also on the plane. The wife is making up her mind to leave her husband on this trip.

The movie differs as the couple and hopeful biographer are on the plane, but also their son travels with them. The daughter is about to have a baby and does not travel or attend the ceremony. The three family members have enough drama to sort through. Cue the sad violin music for much of the movie. The wife has a drink with the biographer and says a little too much, but is strong enough to not divulge everything. The son, in the movie, also meets with the biographer and thinks his theory might be correct. The son confronts his parents while still overseas.

In the movie, liberties are taken and the award will be for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Swedish girls dressed for Santa Lucia day enter their hotel room and sing beautifully. The couple is still in bed having traveled so far and not quite being able to be on a schedule the first day. This little part of the movie is so nice with the beautiful harmonies it is worth listening to again. 

I am trying not to give spoilers, and readers of this blog might already know the painful surprise ending. I knew before I read the book, but it was still engaging and very interesting. The very ending of both the movie and book are memorable with so many different emotions conveyed. 

Thank you for reading, 

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer Book Review

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