I’m tardily posting my Literary Wives review of The World’s Wife. I know—I’m crazy late. Part of the problem is I just procrastinated. And then I kept procrastinating because I just didn’t like this book.
But I know I had a different reaction from the rest of the Literary Wives bloggers, so please check out the reviews from:
- Carolyn – Rosemary & Reading Glasses
- Kay – What Me Read
- Emily – The Bookshelf of Emily J.
- Cecilia – Only You
- Lynn – Smoke & Mirrors
Every other month, the Literary Wives book club reviews a book that has “wife” in the title and we discuss two questions:
1. What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?
2. In what way does this woman define “wife”—or in what way is she defined by “wife”?
The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy; published 2011 by Picador
The World’s Wife is a collection of poems by Carol Ann Duffy. They’re all written from the perspective of a wife of a famous man, myth, or literary character. Some of the women we hear from are: Queen Herod, Mrs. Midas, Pilate’s Wife, Mrs. Faust, Delilah, Medusa, the Devil’s Wife, and others. The book is undeniably very clever and sometimes funny. I liked that Duffy reimagined famous events and stories, asking, “What if this was told from a woman’s point of view?”
Unfortunately, the answer is usually quite sad. In these stories, being a wife means being cheated on and forgotten. It means putting up with a man’s ego. And these wives take their revenge—Mrs. Quasimodo silences her husband’s precious bells, Little Red chops the wolf in two, Mrs. Faust watches happily as her husband is dragged to hell.
Some of the stories were funny: Mrs. Lazarus is shocked to find her husband come back from the dead, Mrs. Van Winkle is horrified to find her husband waking up from his long nap and shaking a bottle of Viagra, Mrs. Darwin takes credit for the theory of evolution.
I think the strength of this book as part of the series is that there is no single definition for “wife,” there is no single experience—because that’s not realistic. All wives experience marriage differently. I was disappointed, though, that despite the variety of voice, the experiences were overwhelmingly negative. Although I consider myself a feminist, I tend to be turned off by angry feminism.
What did you think?
Be sure to join us on October 6 to discuss Wife 22!