Four Wives

Four Wives

3.7 10
by Wendy Walker
     
 

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In Wendy Walker's brilliant debut, the lives of four wives and mothers intertwine and collide in a tale of suburban angst among outrageous wealth.

On the outside, it appears as though Love Welsh, Marie Passetti, Gayle Beck and Janie Kirk lead enviable lives, with marriages to handsome, successful men; bright, happy children; and homes right out of

Overview

In Wendy Walker's brilliant debut, the lives of four wives and mothers intertwine and collide in a tale of suburban angst among outrageous wealth.

On the outside, it appears as though Love Welsh, Marie Passetti, Gayle Beck and Janie Kirk lead enviable lives, with marriages to handsome, successful men; bright, happy children; and homes right out of Architectural Digest. But in the wealthy suburb of Hunting Ridge, appearances mask a deeper truth: These four wives are anything but perfect. As they try to maintain a façade of bliss, behind closed doors they each face their own crises-infidelity, dissatisfaction, self-doubt. As springtime draws to an end, doors are both opened and closed and the women come face to face with the most difficult and heartbreaking challenge of their lives-to reconcile their innermost desires with the lives that each of them has chosen.

Four Wives shares a peek beyond the perfectly manicured lawns of Hunting Ridge—exposing a world as troubled as it is blessed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A klatch of wealthy suburban women become deeply entangled in one another's lives while planning a public health clinic benefit in Walker's uninspired first novel. Housewife Janie is having a heated affair she can't give up; lawyer Marie is trying to balance her law practice, family obligations and loafing husband when a hot summer intern arrives; heiress Gayle has turned to pills to numb her to the treatment of her abusive husband; and Love, a doctor's wife, receives a letter from her estranged father that dredges up a painful past. As the women's personal struggles invade their other, pedestrian pursuits, Love's struggle with the demands of motherhood and family forces Marie, Janie and Gayle to get more involved in the lives of their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, Walker doesn't do much to bring life to her typecast characters, and the narrative wobbles wildly as the subplots barrel toward a big revelation. The ending is mostly happy, which will please some, but the novel's phoned-in feeling prevents readers from connecting with the characters. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Walker's first novel is a treat. It's well written and features great characters, lots of humor, and dead-on analysis of friendship, marriage, and motherhood. Despite the appearance of leading perfect lives, four wives in a Connecticut suburb are all dealing with major issues. Janie is having an affair, Marie is attracted to an intern at her law office, Gayle is overmedicated, and Love has become physically ill because she fears what her estranged father's soon-to-be-published memoir will reveal about her life. As the women face their identity crises, they turn to one another for assistance and support while recognizing that they aren't able to share everything. Walker's portrayal of these wives is fresh and honest, never condescending or sentimental, and she avoids the trappings of a formulaic happy ending. Recommended for popular fiction and women's fiction collections.
—Beth Lindsay

School Library Journal

A klatch of wealthy suburban women become deeply entangled in one another's lives while planning a public health clinic benefit in Walker's uninspired first novel. Housewife Janie is having a heated affair she can't give up; lawyer Marie is trying to balance her law practice, family obligations and loafing husband when a hot summer intern arrives; heiress Gayle has turned to pills to numb her to the treatment of her abusive husband; and Love, a doctor's wife, receives a letter from her estranged father that dredges up a painful past. As the women's personal struggles invade their other, pedestrian pursuits, Love's struggle with the demands of motherhood and family forces Marie, Janie and Gayle to get more involved in the lives of their friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, Walker doesn't do much to bring life to her typecast characters, and the narrative wobbles wildly as the subplots barrel toward a big revelation. The ending is mostly happy, which will please some, but the novel's phoned-in feeling prevents readers from connecting with the characters. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The anxieties of four suburban mothers surface as they plan a benefit for underprivileged women. Janie, who never misses a Pilates class and can drink any number of vanilla lattes with caloric impunity, is the envy of her three girlfriends-Love, Gayle and Marie-all residents of upscale Hunting Ridge, Conn. But she's desperately staving off middle age with surgery, not to mention a clandestine, motel-room affair. Meanwhile, Love, married to an ER doctor, has just received an unsettling letter from her estranged father that threatens to re-open a traumatic episode that halted her halcyon years as a child genius. Gayle, heiress to New England old money, is increasingly intimidated by her lawyer husband, Troy, who resents his financial dependence on her. Marie gave up a lucrative New York legal career for motherhood and a less demanding private practice in family law. The four friends are co-hosting a gala to take place at Gayle's estate, proceeds to go to a women's clinic. Gayle's carefully orchestrated, pharmaceutically assisted life veers off course when she realizes Troy is bullying their young son, Oliver. When her cook, sensitive artist Paul, intervenes, Troy fires Paul. Love is suffering from debilitating back pain, and her mother, aging Hollywood actress Yvonne, convinces Love that her pain is the outward manifestation of suppressed emotions that will only be released by a confrontation with her father. Marie, for her part, is battling a powerful attraction to her law clerk, Randy. She's handling a divorce case that explodes when she uncovers the secret behind the accidental death of her client's toddler. The suspense here is largely dependent on withholding information from thereader. The identity of Janie's lover could be revealed much earlier, as could the exact nature of Love's childhood trauma, without detracting from the best feature of this novel: the characters' ability to spellbind even as they whine about unhelpful, demanding, clueless husbands or otherwise appear to wallow in victimhood. Walker's debut displays a depth of characterization that almost transcends the shopworn premise. Agent: Matt Bialer/Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
From the Publisher

“Walker's first novel is a treat. It's well written and features great characters, lots of humor, and dead-on analysis of friendship, marriage, and motherhood.” —Library Journal

“Wendy Walker writes a cleverly woven, sexy debut that is a fascinating peek inside the gilded cages of suburban matrimony....A true page-turner treat.” —Jill Kargman, author of Momzillas and co-author of The Right Address

“A fascinating read. Wendy Walker delivers a blistering dissection of modern suburban marriage. I couldn't put it down.” —Danielle Ganek, author of Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him

Four Wives is a brilliantly clever and accurate study in domestic discontentment. Acutely well-observed and suspenseful, it's a stunning reflection of life in an affluent American suburb, where the women seem to have everything...except happiness. A great read.” —Jane Green, author of The Other Woman and Swapping Lives

author of Momzillas and co-author of The Right Add Jill Kargman
Wendy Walker writes a cleverly woven, sexy debut that is a fascinating peek inside the gilded cages of suburban matrimony....A true page-turner treat.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429927581
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/19/2008
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
112,115
File size:
363 KB

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1
Her heart was pounding as she sat in the car. Before her was the house, a giant white colonial with black shutters, a quaint portico, and the three-car garage set off to the side where she now found herself, wondering. What have I done?
She took a breath to stave off the panic that was beginning to seep inside her. She needed to be careful. She reached for the garage remote, then thought better of it. The chain runner would cut through the still night air like a buzz saw. She killed the headlights, then the ignition. Her hand slipped inside the door latch, pulling it slowly until it clicked. She pushed open the door and swung her feet outside the car. She removed her shoes, her favorite strapped heels, and hung them on her fingers. She draped her purse around her shoulder, then, as softly as she’d opened it, closed the door with her hip. The soft silk of her skirt was deliciously sensuous as it brushed against her bare leg, testing her will to stay focused. To forget.
The sound of the neighbors’ sprinkler coming to life startled her as she began to make her way around the back of the house. Her feet stepped like a cat’s paws on the asphalt, and for a moment she was frozen in place, listening to the initial burst of water followed by a rhythmic pulsating—the pinging of water drops as they hit a small section of a flagstone terrace on their way around. Placing the sounds, she pictured the neighbors’ yard, the two acres of flat green grass, the free-form pool, the stone wall that divided their property from her own. Then her yard and back door, up the stairs to the children in their rooms, the husband in her bed. The reasons she was creeping about under the midnight sky.
Taking another breath, she carried on, around the outside of the garage to the patio—through the maze of wrought-iron furniture, kick balls, plastic toys, and gas grill, and finally to the sliding glass door that opened into the kitchen. It was unlocked, and she pushed it slowly, then looked inside, making out the shapes of things in the dark room—the oval table that was still piled with remnants from the dinner, a bottle of ketchup, The New York Times, a plastic sippy cup. It was the heart of their lives, this kitchen. She could see the babies, four of them in eight years, sitting in the high chair that now resided in the basement with the rest of the childhood monuments. She could see them running around the island as she chased behind them, their shrieks of laughter filling the room as they avoided capture. She could feel in her bones the toll from the daily struggles—getting them to eat, umpiring fights, and saving them from spilling over as they climbed upon their chairs like unruly savages at dinnertime. This was the place where they played, talked, cried, and fought with each other. And though she felt drawn to it like a time traveler returning home from a long journey, she remained frozen at its threshold, not yet able to enter.
It was not a terrible life. Janie Kirk was a suburban housewife, the steadfast bottom of an inverse pyramid upon which the demands of her family balanced. It was a life founded at its core in her love for the children who lay sleeping inside. From there it grew heavy with the weight of their needs, and those of her husband, which she had carried on her shoulders for so many years. School, soccer, ballet, swimming. Doctors, dentists, speech therapists. Food on the table every day. Laundry, yard work, pets. Birthday parties. Dieting. Sex. It was an odd existence when she stopped to consider it, but so completely common that she rarely did, and it occurred to her that it would be close to perfect if she hadn’t contracted the unfortunate disease of discontentment.
She was standing now between two worlds, her eyes taking in her life, her mind reliving the feel of his hands on her body not an hour before—his face replete with desire as he approached her. In that desire, she had seen the teenager in the back of his father’s Cadillac, the young man whose heart she’d so foolishly broken in high school, then the college lover who’d broken hers. He had been, in that moment, every first kiss, every curious glance from across a room. All the things she’d left behind so many years ago.
She recalled the firm hand gripping the back of her head and pulling her to him, the other hand reaching for her back. The hold was strong, powerful, and she’d given into it without the slightest hesitation, without a second thought. Then came the kiss, and with it a warm burning under her skin. She’d opened her eyes and pressed her mouth harder against his, no longer someone’s wife, someone’s mother. Just a woman. And he was nothing to her but a man she desired. He had tried to speak, You’re so beautiful . . . But she’d pressed her mouth harder against his and waited for the sound of his voice to disappear from her mind, along with everything else she knew about him. The shape of his face, the color of his eyes, his house and family. All of it had vanished. There had been no place for talk, no need for reassurances or stating one’s intentions. The confines of their social structure that kept the wheels turning in this privileged existence had been suspended, and for the first time in her life she had not cared what her lover thought—if he was comparing her to past lovers, assessing her performance, her body—whether he would call her, see her again, marry her and buy a house, have children and live happily ever after until they were both dead in the ground.
She closed her eyes now, wanting to remember for one moment more the feel of his weight over her, her legs wrapped around him, pulling him closer—her mouth on his, nearly consuming him in a frantic embrace. And yet her life was waiting, pulling her back in.
She opened her eyes and took a breath. How could she have imagined that this would be possible, that she could walk through that door and up the stairs, kiss her children, then crawl beside her sleeping husband? She had wanted this night for a long time, and the thought of this night had somehow managed to coexist with her inside those walls. Now that she had given life to her thoughts, now that she had given in to what was, at best, a purely selfish act of weakness and depravity, she felt alive. Her body, her senses, her mind. Everything was awake again. It was a feeling of intoxication, and though she was nearly sick from it, she knew she would have to have more. There would be war between what awaited her and this narcotic flowing through her blood, and there would be no chance of reconciling the opposing needs that would now demand attention within this house.
What have I done? she thought again, knowing she had cast them all on a different course—an uncertain course. With a quiet resolve, she stepped inside.
Copyright © 2008 by Wendy Walker. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Wendy Walker is a former commercial litigator and investment banker who now works at home writing and raising her children. She is the author of Social Lives (coming in August 2009), the editor of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms, and is currently working on her third novel.


Wendy Walker is a former commercial litigator and investment banker who now works at home in Connecticut writing and raising her children. She is the author of the novels Four Wives and Social Lives, and is the editor of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad. She is currently working on her next book.

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Four Wives 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
mary keane-khalid More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was romantic and humorous. If you are interested just a little bit then deffinately buy it!
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olga1122 More than 1 year ago
Chick lit and mom lit are my secret (no so much) vices, and this book falls beautifully into these two categories. Yet it is clever and relevant, does not insult you with lack of intelligence, and does raise some real issues/tickles your brain cells. A perfect summer read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I was completely immersed in Wendy Walker's Four Wives. I feel like I know these women and have even stood in their shoes. I look forward to reading many more books from Mrs. Walker.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In suburbia the four married women meet while working on a public health benefit. Each has relationship issues involving their respective families. Housewife Janie Kirk is cheating on her spouse lawyer Marie Passeti struggles with her work, her family and a hot intern she desires affluent Gayle Beck uses prescription drugs to cope with her abusive husband and a doctor¿s spouse and mother Love Welsh receives a letter from her estranged father that shakes her current existence.----------- As the women become better acquainted with one another they become aware of each other¿s personal issues that send the quartet individually to relook their own problems with a wiser perspective. Especially hitting home to the remaining trio is Love¿s agony over whether she wants to have a second chance with her father as his note of reconciliation brings back a past she prefers to forget.--------- This look at life in suburbia is an interesting tale that rotates viewpoints between the FOUR WIVES so that the audience gets to understand what specifically disturbs each of them beyond the obvious stereotyping of the women and their husbands. As each of them learn more about the other three, they also comprehend more about themselves. However, the ending does not fit the tone of the well-written story line that throughout Wendy Walker elucidates how complex relationships truly are implying resolutions are filled with opportunity costs not necessarily happy ones.---------------- Harriet Klausner