You know what’s crazy? We’ve been doing the Literary Wives books for over a year! It’s weird to think about, but I’m so thankful for this little virtual book club. Our very first ever Literary Wives post was American Wife—honestly, that still might be my favorite book we’ve read in this whole series—but I’ve really come to enjoy the wonderful conversation. If you’ve been reading along this whole time, thank you!!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews from the other Literary Wives reviewers:
- Audra at Unabridged Chick
- Carolyn at Rosemary & Reading Glasses
- Cecilia at Only You
- Emily at The Bookshelf of Emily J.
- Kay at What Me Read
- Lynn at Smoke & Mirrors
October’s Literary Wives pick:
This was a super quick, easy read. Alice Buckle is approaching 45, the age her mother was when she died tragically. It begins as your typical midlife crisis story: Alice Buckle is a woman who does nothing but worry. She thinks her son is gay. She thinks her daughter has an eating disorder. She has lost her touch as a third grade drama teacher. Her husband loses his job. And the worst: she and her husband, William, seem to have hopelessly lost their connection.
Then one day Alice receives an invitation to take part in an anonymous study about marriage put on by a nearby research center. She agrees, and is assigned the alias Wife 22. She is also assigned a personal researcher, who sends her surveys every few days. He is Researcher 101.
As Alice unburdens herself to this anonymous but sympathetic and attentive Researcher, their relationship suddenly becomes more than just Researcher and Participant. He is flirting with her, and she is flirting back. Alice can’t help but feel that her needs are being met for the first time in a very long time.
Do ppl really txt like this? Or chat like that? U no, using few 2 no real wrds.
That was the part that drove me nuts in this book. I thought using as few characters as possible in texts was cool until middle school. Then I realized it was just further limiting our already limited virtual communication. Why do people mistakenly think that it’s cool to write in this weird digital lingo? Gr. But I digress.
1. What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?
The obvious answer to this question might be, as Alice Buckle thinks, that being a wife is hard. It’s boring. It’s all about logistics: who picks up the kids, what time is dinner, where is the Aspirin.
But Melanie Gideon gives us a few alternative views of what being a “wife” might look like. Alice’s best friend, Nedra, has been with her partner, Kate, for many years and finally decides to propose. Nedra is confident that a spouse must be more than just your roommate or best friend. They must be your lover. She is the first person to tell Alice she’s stupid by talking to this Researcher 101 online. She’s the biggest supporter for Alice’s marriage throughout the book.
Bunny, Alice’s blast-from-the-past mentor, assures Alice that every marriage has its ups and downs. Bunny and her own husband are in their sixties and still completely in love. But it hasn’t come without a lot of hard work.
2. In what way does this woman define “wife”—or in what way is she defined by “wife”?
What makes this book a nice fit in our series is that it being a wife is the point of the whole book. Alice is searching to find out what her definition of “wife” is, and whether she really wants to be one. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s a happy one.
One sub-theme of the book that I really enjoyed was Researcher 101’s comments about how connected we are now through social media. While being connected can be a wonderful thing, it undoubtedly has its downsides. I loved these quotes:
It seems like we’ve gotten to the point where our experiences, our memories—our entire lives, actually—aren’t real unless we post about them online. I wonder if we might miss the days of being unreachable.
Waiting is a dying art. The world moves at a split-second speed now and I happen to think that’s a great shame, as we seem to have lost the deeper pleasures of leaving and returning.
From Alice: I, too, treat my life like something to be mined and then packaged up for public consumption. Every post, every upload, every Like, every Interest, every Comment is a performance.
These quotes come at the perfect time in my life. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been musing about how intertwined my work and personal online lives have gotten, especially on Twitter.
I’m curious to know… If you’ve read Wife 22, what did you think?
Our next Literary Wives pick is The Shoemaker’s Wife, which we’ll be discussing on December 1st! I’m UBER excited for this one, as it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a very long time, just waiting for this moment. I’ve heard nothing but good things.