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The Wife


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- A surprise bestseller in the US'The Wife is a complex, compelling portrait of a marriage that raises painful issues, even as it has you howling with recognition. The Wife picks up some of the hard questions with the lightest, most glittering or touches' Allison Pearson

About the Author

Meg Wolitzer is the author of several acclaimed novels, most recently The Uncoupling ('tingles with playfulness and wicked observation' Independent) and The Wife ('has you howling with recognition' Allison Pearson), The Position ('one of the best and most human books I've read all year' Erica Wagner) and The Ten-Year Nap ('as incisive and pitiless and clear-eyed a chronicler of female-male tandems as Philip Roth or John Updike' Chicago Tribune). She is married with two sons and lives in New York City.


Wolitzer (Sleepwalking) opens her latest tale in the first-class cabin of an airplane. Joan, a still-striking 64-year-old woman, observes her husband, the "short, wound-up, slack-bellied" famous novelist Joe Castleman, as he lolls in his seat and accepts the treats and attention offered him by the flight attendants. The couple are on their way to Finland, where Joe will receive the fictional Helsinki Prize, not quite as prestigious as the Nobel, but worth a small fortune-the crown jewel in a spectacular career. Yet as the once blonde Smith College co-ed looks over at the once handsome creative writing teacher who seduced her, she realizes that she must end this marriage. The reader is prepared for a tale of witty disillusionment. Here is Joan on the literary fame game: "You might even envy us-him for all the power vacuum-packed within his bulky, shopworn body, and me for my twenty-four-hour-access to it, as though a famous and brilliant writer-husband is a convenience store for his wife, a place she can dip into anytime for a Big Gulp of astonishing intellect and wit and excitement." As the narrative flows from the glamorous present back to the past, tracing the bohemian Greenwich Village beginnings of the couple's relationship and Joe's skyrocketing success and compulsive philandering, an almost subliminal psychological horror tale begins to unfold. Wolitzer delicately chips away at this seemingly confident and detached narrator and her swaggering "genius" husband, inserting a sly clue here and there, until the extent of Joan's sacrifice is made clear. There is no cheap, gratifying Hollywood ending to make it all better. Instead, Wolitzer's crisp pacing and dry wit carry us headlong into a devastating message about the price of love and fame. If it's a story we've heard before, the tale is as resonant as ever in Wolitzer's hands. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

"Meg Wolitzer is so funny and clever she should be bottled and sold as tonic" * Allison Pearson *
"A triumph of tone and observation, The Wife is a blithe, brilliant take on sexual politics" * Lorrie Moore *
"Hilarious and touching" * Erica Wagner, The Times *
"With a great lightness of touch, Wolitzer's novel satirises American literary circles of the Seventies and Eighties and traces the generation of wives who poured their own creative energies into "stoking the fires" of their husbands' reputations." * Emma Hagestadt, Independent *
"The wife was published less than a decade ago, but I say it is already a classic - and I have no idea why it's author remains so less well known than her US compatriots, Alison Lurie and Lorrie Moore." * Observer *

Joan Castelman is en route to Finland to watch her husband, renowned author Joe Castleman, win the Helsinki Prize when she decides to leave him. What follows is Joan's fascinating recollection of their marriage, his career, and her fading dreams. Telling her story in alternating segments, she starts in the 1950s with the beginning of the couple's professor-student relationship and continues through to the present, their 40 years of marriage stacking up the unspoken regrets that lead to Helsinki. This is Wolitzer's sixth novel (following Surrender, Dorothy ), and she's as sharp as ever. Her funny yet harshly bitter book features amazingly crafted prose, and the story of what Joan sacrifices to support her husband and his illustrious career is just as astounding. Complete with a staggering twist ending, this is not one to miss. For most fiction collections.-Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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