Stepford Wives

( 40 )

Overview

The internationally bestselling novel by the author of A Kiss Before Dying, The Boys from Brazil, and Rosemary's Baby

With an Introduction by Peter Straub

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town's idyllic facade lies a terrible secret ? a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.

At once a masterpiece of ...

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The Stepford Wives

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Overview

The internationally bestselling novel by the author of A Kiss Before Dying, The Boys from Brazil, and Rosemary's Baby

With an Introduction by Peter Straub

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town's idyllic facade lies a terrible secret — a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.

At once a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a savage commentary on a media-driven society that values the pursuit of youth and beauty at all costs, The Stepford Wives is a novel so frightening in its final implications that the title itself has earned a place in the American lexicon.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen King
“[Ira Levin] is the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel.”
Esquire
“An efficient German motorcar of a book—masterful, ridiculously well crafted, and, like the ladies of Stepford themselves, flawless.”
Esquire
“An efficient German motorcar of a book--masterful, ridiculously well crafted, and, like the ladies of Stepford themselves, flawless.”
Austin American-Statesman
“Chilling...Entertaining...Read it.”
Library Journal
Levin was a hot commodity in the 1960s and 1970s, cranking out horror potboilers like Rosemary's Baby, The Boys from Brazil, and this 1972 title, all of which share the common theme that people aren't always who or what they seem. This slim volume finds protagonist Joanna and husband Walter and kids leaving the wicked city for the bucolic town of Stepford. Despite its ideal fa ade, the sleepy little storybook town actually is more wicked. Joanna soon notices that her female neighbors are all body and no brains and seemingly exist only to do housework while their husbands gather nightly at a mysterious men's club. Even worse, it appears that the women who moved there just before her suddenly begin morphing into hausfraus built like swimsuit modelsDand she's next! It's hard to tell if this is a stab at the feminist movement or simply a male fantasy, but it's a fun read and will keep you turning the pages. Note also that a new feature film based on this story is in the works.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060080846
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: 1st Perennial Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 210,588
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Ira Levin was born and lives in New York City. His novels — A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary’s Baby, This Perfect Day, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil, and Sliver — have all been international bestsellers. Mr. Levin also wrote the longest-running thriller in Broadway history, Deathtrap, and the lyrics of the Barbra Streisand classic "He Touched Me." A two-time winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award, he recently received the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for lifetime achievement.

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First Chapter

The Stepford Wives

Chapter One

The Welcome Wagon lady, sixty if she was a day but working at youth and vivacity (ginger hair, red lips, a sunshine-yellow dress), twinkled her eyes and teeth at Joanna and said, "You're really going to like it here! It's a nice town with nice people! You couldn't have made a better choice!" Her brown leather shoulderbag was enormous, old and scuffed; from it she dealt Joanna packets of powdered breakfast drink and soup mix, a toy-size box of non-polluting detergent, a booklet of discount slips good at twenty-two local shops, two cakes of soap, a folder of deodorant pads --

"Enough, enough," Joanna said, standing in the doorway with both hands full. "Hold. Halt. Thank you."

The Welcome Wagon lady put a vial of cologne on top of the other things, and then searched in her bag -- "No, really," Joanna said -- and brought out pink-framed eyeglasses and a small embroidered notebook. "I do the 'Notes on Newcomers,'" she said, smiling and putting on the glasses. "For the Chronicle." She dug at the bag's bottom and came up with a pen, clicking its top with a red-nailed thumb.

Joanna told her where she and Walter had moved from; what Walter did and with which firm; Pete's and Kim's names and ages; what she had done before they were born; and which colleges she and Walter had gone to. She shifted impatiently as she spoke, standing there at the front door with both hands full and Pete and Kim out of earshot.

"Do you have any hobbies or special interests?"

She was about to say a time-saving no, but hesitated: a full answer, printed in the local paper, might serve as a signpost to women like herself, potential friends. The women she had met in the past few days, the ones in the nearby houses, were pleasant and helpful enough, but they seemed completely absorbed in their household duties. Maybe when she got to know them better she would find they had farther-reaching thoughts and concerns, yet it might be wise to put up that signpost. So, "Yes, several," she said. "I play tennis whenever I get the chance, and I'm a semi-professional photographer -- "

"Oh?" the Welcome Wagon lady said, writing.

Joanna smiled. "That means an agency handles three of my pictures," she said. "And I'm interested in politics and in the Women's Liberation movement. Very much so in that. And so is my husband."

"He is?" The Welcome Wagon lady looked at her.

"Yes," Joanna said. "Lots of men are." She didn't go into the benefits-for-both-sexes explanation; instead she leaned her head back into the entrance hall and listened: a TV audience laughed in the family room, and Pete and Kim argued but below intervention level. She smiled at the Welcome Wagon lady "He's interested in boating and football too," she said, "and he collects Early American legal documents." Walter's half of the signpost.

The Welcome Wagon lady wrote, and closed her notebook, clicked her pen. "That's just fine, Mrs. Eberhart," she said, smiling and taking her glasses off. "I know you're going to love it here," she said, "and I want to wish you a sincere and hearty 'Welcome to Stepford.' If there's any information I can give you about local shops and services, please feel free to call me; the number's right there on the front of the discount book."

"Thank you, I will," Joanna said. "And thanks for all this."

"Try them, they're good products!" the Welcome Wagon lady said. She turned away "Good-by now!"

Joanna said good-by to her and watched her go down the curving walk toward her battered red Volkswagen. Dogs suddenly filled its windows, a black and brown excitement of spaniels, jumping and barking, paws pressing glass. Moving whiteness beyond the Volkswagen caught Joanna's eye: across the sapling-lined street, in one of the Clay brooks' upstairs windows, whiteness moved again, leaving one pane and filling the next; the window was being washed. Joanna smiled, in case Donna Claybrook was looking at her. The whiteness moved to a lower pane, and then to the pane beside it.

With a surprising roar the Volkswagen lunged from the curb, and Joanna backed into the entrance hall and hipped the door closed.

---

Pete and Kim were arguing louder. "B.M.! Diarrhea!" "Ow! Stop it!" "Cut it out!" Joanna called, dumping the double handful of samples onto the kitchen table.

"She's kicking me!" Pete shouted, and Kim shouted, "I'm not! You diarrhea!"

"Now stop it," Joanna said, going to the port and looking through. Pete lay on the floor too close to the TV set, and Kim stood beside him, red-faced, keeping from kicking him. Both were still in their pajamas. "She kicked me twice," Pete said, and Kim shouted, "You changed the channel! He changed the channel!" "I did not!" "I was watching Felix the Cat!"

"Quiet!" Joanna commanded. "Absolute silence! Utter -- complete-total-silence."

They looked at her, Kim with Walter's wide blue eyes, Pete with her own grave dark ones. "Race 'em to a flying finish!" the TV set cried. "No electricity!"

"A, you're too close to the set," Joanna said. "B, turn it off; and C, get dressed, both of you. That green stuff outside is grass, and the yellow stuff coming down on it is sunshine." Pete scrambled to his feet and powed the TVs control panel, blanking its screen to a dying dot of light. Kim began crying.

Joanna groaned and went around into the family room.

Crouching, she hugged Kim to her shoulder and rubbed her pajamaed back, kissed her silk-soft ringlets. "Ah, come on now," she said. "Don't you want to play with that nice Allison again? Maybe you'll see another chipmunk."

Pete came over and lifted a strand of her hair. She looked up at him and said, "Don't change channels on her."

"Oh, all right," he said, winding a finger in the dark strand.

"And don't kick," she told Kim. She rubbed her back and tried to get kisses in at her squirming-away cheek.

The Stepford Wives. Copyright © by Ira Levin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    "it gets precisely where it wants to go"....

    At the heart of this novel is a mockery of conformity and a satire of "the oppressors and their desires". After Joanna and her family move to Stepford, she sees that something about the women isn't quite right. All they do is smile and clean their houses. They are pleasant but very distant. They are all the same. Except for two other women who are also recent arrivals in the too perfect town of Stepford. Those two other women eventually conform to the domesticity of the Stepford women. Joanna is left to wonder at the conversion her two friends go through. Did they conform by choice or is there something in the water that changes the women of this town or worse? Is it something the men are doing to their women to make them especially beautiful and diligent in their housework? The Stepford Wives is highly readable, witty and clever. To quote Peter Straub in the introduction of this book, "Like everything else he [Ira Levin] has written, this book resembles a bird in flight, a haiku, a Chinese calligrapher's brushstroke. With no wasted motion, it gets precisely where it wants to go."

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2005

    This Book is cool.

    I've read a few reviews that say, this book isn't good because it isn't like the movie. You can't blame the book for not being like the movie. The book came first and, therefore, it is the movie that twisted and augmented the meaning of the novel. Having said that, it was definitely a good read - a very dark and interestingly creepy plot. I would recommend this book not the 2004 remake of the film, though. I haven't seen the older version, so I don't know if it does the book justice, but if it did, it would definitely be a good watch. For now, however, this book is definitely a good read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2005

    TO SUBURBANITES

    I couldnt put this book down! it's a classic must- read and reminds me of the area around my country house in Plandome, Long Island, New York. It's a great lesson to all of those suburbanites about repression and the darkness of soccer moms.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    Great Suspense Story (and Quick Read)

    I was a bit doubtful at first, seeing that the book was only 92 pages - I wasn't sure it would be able to tell a thorough story or fully build the characters. I was wrong. This book was a great read. The suspense builds with each page, and by the end you are dying to find out what happens to the main character, Joanna. I will be reading other Ira Levin stories soon.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2005

    Loved it then, love it now

    I read this book a year or so after it was published and AFTER I'd made my first trip to DisneyWorld. The impact was tremendous. I remember not being able to put the book down and having a little shiver go down my spine. Folks who read the book now, especially anyone who saw the remake of the movie, won't get the full impact of the story. I think you had to read it in the proper timeframe of it's initial release to get the full effect. Still, it's a chilling thriller that packs a wallop.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2004

    The movie and book are different

    ok, first of all. The movie was bad. I mean, there wasn't any suspense and in the end? Oh yay, good people win, the end, they live happily ever after. Not what I wanted to see. Nicole Kidman needs to stick with GOOD horror movies. Plus, the movie is nothing like the book, except in one way. They're both BAD! The book didn't really have any suspense either. Yes, it picked apart brains, small psychological thrills, but thats it. And the ending was just confusing. I was like, 'where is this going?' during the book and at the end I was like, 'Oh, I see, to the nothing end.' The book went from going nowhere to nothing. Confusing, huh?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Great read

    Loved it. Surprised that some people dont get it.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    The old one

    Is just like the book The New one eas bad I loved the one from the 70 the only thing i dont like was the end so im here to say read the book see the movie the 70 not the 2000 one

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2005

    Disappointing.

    I was disappointed with this book, I'd seen the new movie (but not the old one yet) and the book was so very different, I just didn't like it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2004

    no star

    A huge waste of time and money. I can't believe they thought this book was movie material. This book is for mindless people.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2004

    I am very happy that I have read this book

    This book was a quick read and very understandable. I loved the whole book and couldn't stop reading it. What i didn't like about this book is the ending. It seemed like there was no pint of reading the book because Joanna turned into one of the stepford wives anyway and like there was no point. But the book in general was cool and I reccomend it because even if you don't like it it's not like you spent too much time and effort on it!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2004

    Good Begining and Middle. Rushed Ending!

    It's a real page turner. Real quick read. But the ending went to fast. It leaves your mind itching.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2004

    See The Original Movie Before Reading

    I had heard of the original movie & I saw it in the video store. Finally, I watched it on cable & I was taken by it. I loved the movie so I decided to read the book. Obviously, the book & movie are different. I think that the movie helped me to understand the book. The 'secret' in the book didn't seem to be completely clear. It seemed like Ira Levin only hinted at it. I hope that the re-make is as wonderful as the original. I'd have to say that it's better to take this out from the library instead of buying it just in case you're disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2004

    What the?????

    This book had lots of characters and no substance. It did not go into the Men's Club and it ended too abruptly, all I could say was 'what the??!!??'. This book was a waste of time, and went nowhere. Hopefully the movie is somewhat better, but I do not have high expectations.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    THis book was AWSOME!

    It was a real page turner, It was a real quick read but it was good.It was far different from the movie, but it was really really good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    the good, the bad and the ugly

    THE GOOD - the basic concept; THE BAD - the author seems to have forgotten the climax and the ending!; THE UGLY - don't even bother trying to read the contradiction otherwise known as the introduction...I was thrilled to recieve my copy of The Stepford Wives in the mail. I read it all in one day. I was on about page 80 or 90 and had just told my friend 'oooooo! it's gettin' good!' 10 minutes later I sat in her living room and summed the novel up as being nothing more than one big tease. I liked the witty descriptions used by the author, unfortunately, the descriptions describe the irrelavant! And what an extremely disappointing ending! I'm all for leaving some to the imagination, but he left the entire plot line to the imagination!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Could have been so much more...

    I would have given this book 5 stars had the ending been better. The idea of this book is a very interesting one, especially in today's self obsessed world. The author however decided to leave many questions unanswered. if you read 'Rosemary's Baby,' you can guess the ending without any trouble by the end of page 20. Leaving the ending so open ended seems like the author just wanted to end the book already.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Disappointed in Stepford

    With all the hype about for the new Stepford Wives movie I was curious about the book, so I picked it up during one of my outings at Barnes and Noble. What a disappointment, I hope that the movie is better then the book. It was poorly written and not suspenseful at all. I do not recommend this book at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2004

    Wheres the Climax???!!??

    After reading this book - I have a question...wheres the climax in this book..it was a good read & I was rooting for Joanna to help Bobbie & Charmaine....but then PLLOP....nothing...she turns into one of them...doesnt even rescue her kids...this book needs a serious re-write & this time maybe the author can include a climax. I was very, very disappointed in the way the story ended.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2004

    Invest your time and money on something else

    After seeing the previews for the remake of the movie, I decided to read the novel. There were many suspenseful moments and interesting twists that were never answered. When I got to the last chapter of the book I thought to myself, 'Is that it?!?' the reader is left confused without a definitive resolution and for me, it is just a big disappointment. I'm not even sure if I want to see the movie anymore

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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