The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
(Scribner, 2004, 224 pages)
Joan and Joseph Castleman have been married for more than 40 years. It’s not until they’re on a flight to Finland for Joe to receive a prestigious literary award that Joan realizes she’s really and truly done with their marriage. The novel then flashes back and forth between Joe and Joan’s early years together in the 1950s to the present-day. We see how they met and how they grew as a couple. Joan’s frustration/resentment that have led her to decide her marriage is over doesn’t really become clear to the reader until later in the story. This is the story of a marriage that also takes into account gender dynamics and how things have (or have not) changed over time.
The Wife reads quickly and I was really curious to see where Wolitzer would take the story. I became interested in reading more of her work after reading The Interestings this past year. Next on my list will either be The Ten Year Nap or The Uncoupling. If you’re looking for good literary fiction that still reads like a quick summer novel, I’d recommend picking this up. Or at least checking Wolitzer out if you haven’t already.