Maybe it was those extra five pounds I’d gained. Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.
But when the anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).
And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.
7. Sometimes I tell him he’s snoring when he’s not snoring so he’ll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.
61. Chet Baker on the tape player. He was cutting peppers for the salad. I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man’s children.
67. To not want what you don’t have. What you can’t have. What you shouldn’t have.
32. That if we weren’t careful, it was possible to forget one another.
Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor’s appointments, family dinners, budgets, and trying to discern the fastest-moving line at the grocery store. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.
But these days, I’m also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpectedly personal turn. Soon, I’ll have to make a decision—one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life. But at the moment, I’m too busy answering questions.
As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
GOOGLE SEARCH “Eyelid Drooping”
About 54,300 results (.14 seconds)
Eyelid Drooping: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Eyelid drooping is excessive sagging of the upper eyelid . . . Eyelid drooping can make somebody appear sleepy or tired.
Eyelid Drooping . . . Natural Alternatives
Speak from the chin-up position. Try not to furrow your brow, as this will only compound your problems . . .
Droopy Dog . . . eyelid drooping
American cartoon character . . . drooping eyelids. Last name McPoodle. Catchphrase . . . “You know what? That makes me mad.”
I stare into the bathroom mirror and wonder why nobody has told me my left eyelid has grown a little hood. For a long time I looked younger than I was. And now, suddenly all the years have pooled up and I look my age—forty-four, possibly older. I lift the excess skin with my finger and waggle it about. Is there some cream I can buy? How about some eyelid pushups?
“What’s wrong with your eye?”
Peter pokes his head into the bathroom and despite my irritation at being spied on, I am happy to see my son’s freckled face. At twelve, his needs are still small and easily fulfilled: Eggos and Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs—the ones with the cotton waistband.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I say.
I depend on Peter. We’re close, especially in matters of grooming. We have a deal. His responsibility is my hair. He’ll tell me when my roots are showing so I can book an appointment with Lisa, my hairdresser. And in return, my responsibility is his odor. To make sure he doesn’t exude one. For some reason, twelve-year-old boys can’t smell their underarm funk. He does run-bys in the mornings, arm raised, waving a pit at me so I can get a whiff. “Shower,” I almost always say. On rare occasions I lie and say “you’re fine.” A boy should smell like a boy.
“Tell you what?”
“About my left eyelid.”
“What—that it hangs down over your eye?”
“Only a tiny bit.”
I look in the mirror again. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“Well, why didn’t you tell me Peter was slang for penis?”
“It is not.”
“Yes, apparently it is. A peter and two balls?”
“I swear to you I have never heard that expression before.”
“Well, now you understand why I’m changing my name to Pedro.”
“What happened to Frost?”
“That was in February. When we were doing that unit on Robert Frost.”
“So now the road has diverged and you want to be Pedro?” I ask.
Middle school, I’ve been told, is all about experimenting with identity. It’s our job as parents to let our kids try on different personas, but it’s getting hard to keep up. Frost one day, Pedro the next. Thank God Peter is not an EMO, or is it IMO? I have no idea what EMO/IMO stands for—as far as I can tell it’s a subset of Goth, a tough kid who dyes his hair black and wears eyeliner, and no, that is not Peter. Peter is a romantic.
“Okay,” I say. “But have you considered Peder? It’s the Norwegian version of Peter. Your friends could say ‘later, Peder.’ There’s nothing that rhymes with Pedro. Do we have any Scotch tape?”
I want to tape up my eyelid—see what it would look like if I got it fixed.
“Fade-dro,” says Peter. “And I like your sagging eyelid. It makes you look like a dog.”
My mouth drops open. You know what? That makes me mad.
“No, like Jampo,” he says.
Peter is referring to our two-year-old mutt, half Tibetan spaniel, half God-knows-what-else: a twelve-pound, high-strung Mussolini of a dog who eats his own poop. Disgusting, yes, but convenient if you think about it. You never have to carry around those plastic bags.
“Drop it, Jampo, you little shit!” Zoe yells from downstairs.
We can hear the dog running manically on the hardwood floors, most likely carting around a roll of toilet paper, which next to poop is his favorite treat. Jampo means “gentle” in Tibetan, which of course turned out to be the complete opposite of the dog’s personality, but I don’t mind; I prefer a spirited dog. The past year and a half has been like having a toddler in the house again and I’ve loved every minute of it. Jampo is my baby, the third child I’ll never have.
“He needs to go out. Honey, will you take him? I have to get ready for tonight.”
Peter makes a face.
“Thank you. Hey, wait—before you go, do we have any Scotch tape?”
“I don’t think so. I saw some duct tape in the junk drawer, though.”
I consider my eyelid. “One more favor?”
“What?” Peter sighs.
“Will you bring up the duct tape after you’ve walked the dog?”
“You are my number-one son,” I say.
“Your only son.”
“And number one at math,” I say, kissing him on the cheek.
Tonight I’m accompanying William to the launch of FiG vodka, an account he and his team at KKM Advertising have been working on for weeks now. I’ve been looking forward to it. There’ll be live music. Some hot new band, three women with electric violins from the Adirondacks or the Ozarks—I can’t remember which.
“Business dressy,” William said, so I pull out my old crimson Ann Taylor suit. Back in the ’90s when I, too, worked in advertising, this was my power suit. I put it on and stand in front of the full-length mirror. The suit looks a little outdated, but maybe if I wear the chunky silver necklace Nedra got me for my birthday last year it will mask the fact that it has seen better days. I met Nedra Rao fifteen years ago at a Mommy and Me playgroup. She’s my best friend and also happens to be one of the top divorce lawyers in the state of California who I can always count on to give very sane, very sophisticated $425-an-hour advice to me for free because she loves me. I try and see the suit through Nedra’s eyes. I know just what she’d say: “You can’t be bloody serious, darling,” in her posh English accent. Too bad. There’s nothing else in my closet that qualifies as “business dressy.” I slip on my pumps and walk downstairs.
Sitting on the couch, her long brown hair swept back into a messy chignon, is my fifteen-year-old daughter, Zoe. She’s an on-and-off vegetarian (currently off), a rabid recycler, and maker of her own organic lip balm (peppermint and ginger). Like most girls her age, she is also a professional ex: ex–ballet dancer, ex-guitarist, and ex-girlfriend of Nedra’s son, Jude. Jude is somewhat famous around here. He made it to the Hollywood round of American Idol and then was booted off for “sounding like a California eucalyptus tree that was on fire, popping and sizzling and exploding, but in the end not a native species, not native at all.”
I was rooting for Jude, we all were, as he made it past the first and second eliminations. But then right before Hollywood he got a swelled head from the instant fame, cheated on Zoe, and then dumped her, thus breaking my girl’s heart. The lesson? Never allow your teenager to date the son of your best friend. It took months for me—I mean, Zoe—to recover. I said some horrible things to Nedra—things I probably shouldn’t have said, along the lines of I would have expected more from the son of a feminist and a boy with two moms. Nedra and I didn’t speak for a while. We’re fine now, but whenever I go to her house Jude is conveniently out.
Zoe’s right hand moves over her cellphone’s keypad at top speed.
“You’re wearing that?” she says.
“What? It’s vintage.”
“Zoe, sweetheart, will you please look up from that thing? I need your honest opinion.” I spread my arms wide. “Is it really that bad?”
Zoe cocks her head. “That depends. How dark is it going to be?”
I sigh. Just a year ago Zoe and I were so close. Now she treats me like she does her brother—as a family member who must be tolerated. I act like I don’t notice, but invariably overcompensate, trying to be nice for both of us, and then I end up sounding like a cross between Mary Poppins and Miss Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
“There’s a pizza in the freezer, and please make sure Peter is in bed by ten. We should be home soon after that,” I say.
Zoe continues to text. “Dad’s waiting for you in the car.”
I scurry around the kitchen looking for my purse. “Have a great time. And don’t watch Idol without me!”
“Already Googled the results. Should I tell you who gets the axe?”
“No!” I shout, running out the door.
• • •
“Alice Buckle. It’s been entirely too long. And what a breath of fresh air you are! Why doesn’t William drag you to these events more often? But I suppose he’s doing you a favor, isn’t he? Another night, another vodka launch. Ho-hum, am I right?”
Frank Potter, chief creative officer of KKM Advertising, looks discreetly over my head. “You look wonderful,” he says, his eyes darting around. He waves to someone at the back of the room. “That’s a lovely suit.”
I take a big gulp of wine. “Thanks.”
As I look around the room, at all the sheer blouses, strappy sandals, and skinny jeans most of the other women are wearing, I realize that “business dressy” really means “business sexy.” At least with this crowd. Everybody looks great. So of the moment. I wrap one arm around my waist and hold the wine glass so it hovers near my chin, a poor attempt at camouflaging my jacket.
“Thank you, Frank,” I say, as a bead of sweat trickles down the back of my neck.
Sweating is my default response when I feel out of place. My other default response is repeating myself.
“Thank you,” I say once more. Oh, God, Alice. A trifecta of thanks?
He pats me on the arm. “So how are things at home? Tell me. Is everything okay? The kids?”
“You’re sure?” he asks, his face screwed up with concern.
“Well, yes, yes, everybody’s good.”
“Wonderful,” he says. “Glad to hear it. And what are you doing these days? Still teaching? What subject was it?”
“Drama. That’s right. That must be so—rewarding. But I imagine quite stressful.” He lowers his voice. “You are a saint, Alice Buckle. I certainly wouldn’t have the patience.”
“I’m sure you would if you saw what these kids are capable of. They’re so eager. You know, just the other day one of my students—”
Frank Potter looks over my head once again, raises his eyebrows, and nods.
“Alice, forgive me, but I’m afraid I’m being summoned.”
“Oh, of course. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to keep you. I’m sure you have other—”
He moves toward me and I lean in, thinking he’s going to kiss me on the cheek, but instead he pulls back, takes my hand firmly, and shakes it. “Goodbye, Alice.”
I look out into the room, at everyone breezily drinking their lychee FiGtinis. I chuckle softly as if I’m thinking of something funny, trying to look breezy myself. Where is my husband?
“Frank Potter is an ass,” a voice whispers in my ear.
Thank God, a friendly face. It’s Kelly Cho, a longtime member of William’s creative team—long in advertising anyway, where turnover is incredibly fast. She’s wearing a suit, not all that different from mine (better lapels), but on her it looks edgy. She’s paired it with over-the-knee boots.
“Wow, Kelly, you look fabulous,” I say.
Kelly waves my compliment away. “So how come we don’t see you more often?”
“Oh, you know. Coming over the bridge is such a hassle. Traffic. And I still don’t feel all that comfortable leaving the kids home alone at night. Peter’s just twelve, and Zoe’s a typical distracted teenager.”
“Great. Other than being up to my neck in details: costumes, wrangling parents, soothing spiders and pigs that haven’t learned their lines yet. The third grade is doing Charlotte’s Web this year.”
Kelly smiles. “I love that book! Your job sounds so idyllic.”
“Oh, yeah. I would love to get out of the rat race. Every night there’s something going on. I know it seems glamorous—the client dinners, box seats for the Giants, passes to concerts—but it’s exhausting after a while. Well, you know how it is. You’re an advertising widow from way back.”
Advertising widow? I didn’t know there was name for it. For me. But Kelly’s right. Between William’s traveling and entertaining clients, I’m basically a single mother. We’re lucky if we manage to have a family dinner a few times a week.
What People are Saying About This
“An LOL Instagram about love in a wired world.”—People
“Vibrant, au courant, and hilarious . . . brilliant!”—Adriana Trigiani
“This modern-day, mixed-media comedy of manners is as up-to-the-minute as your favorite Twitter feed.”—The Washington Post
“A skillful blend of pop-culture references, acidic humor, and emotional moments. It will take its rightful place . . . alongside Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Anna Maxted’s Getting Over It, and Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It.”—Library Journal
“Channels the playful but incisive vibe of Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail.”—NPR
“Fresh and funny . . . a delightful, thoroughly modern, guilty pleasure of a read.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Reading Group Guide
1. Consider the epigraph by E. M. Forster: “Only connect.” How did this inform your interpretation of the novel before and after reading? What is the significance of this quote in a book that so often satirizes our reliance on technology in achieving immediate and constant connectivity?
2. What do you make of the structure of the novel unraveling in part through Alice’s narrative and elsewhere through Google searches, Facebook status updates, and email and text messages? Did you find this made for an organic reading experience, considering how much social media is enmeshed in our daily lives? What did this mode of storytelling reveal about the characters that you might not have otherwise learned? How about the effect of seeing the answers to the marriage survey without first having read the questions? When you arrived at the appendix, did you then match any of the inquiries to their respective responses? Did you find anything surprising?
3. Of her marriage, Alice says that she and William are “floating around on the surface of our lives like kids in a pool propped up on those Styrofoam noodles.” She longs for a deeper connection to her husband, yet struggles to move beyond the monotonies apparent in everyday life. Why, then, does she find it so natural to be candid with Researcher 101? Do you think it’s that much easier to confess truths about ourselves under a veil of anonymity?
4. Researcher 101 writes, “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.” Do you agree that our access to people and information comes at the expense of developing meaningful connections over time, through patience and dedication? Is it possible to cultivate this kind of slow-budding relationship in a digital age, or are we too hardwired for instant gratification?
5. Alice’s answer to the question of what she used to do—“run, dive, pitch a tent, bake bread, build bonfires”—is much at odds with what she does now—“make lunches, suggest to family they are capable of making better choices; alert children to BO.” Why is it that Alice, in William’s words, insists on keeping herself from the things she loves? How does she go about reclaiming these pieces of her former self throughout the novel, and in what ways do you think she’s transformed by the end?
6. Alice struggles with crossing the threshold into her tipping point year, when she will turn the same age her mother was when she died. She sees this as having to say goodbye; as facing the fact that her mother will never age, never meet William, never watch Zoe and Peter grow. When, if ever, does she begin to perceive this milestone as not so much leaving something behind, but moving into a new future?
7. At one point, Alice recognizes that she “can be overbearing and intense” when it comes to parenting. In what ways do you think her relationships with Zoe and Peter have been affected by her mother’s untimely death? How does Alice’s realization that she has more than just her children enable her to take responsibility for her own life?
8. Much of the novel deals with Alice’s feelings of displacement, of wandering off the trail and trying to find the lamppost. But whenever she strays, William is always the one to remain on course and bring her back home. Why do you think that in an attempt to save their marriage, he finds it necessary to search for Alice behind a guise and not “in real life?”
9. A principal theme of the novel deals with relationships between mothers and daughters, particularly between Alice and her mother, Zoe, Bunny and the Mumble Bumbles. What do the Mumble Bumbles teach Alice about what being a parent means and how does this uniquely constituted group function in her life in general? Did you detect any instances in which Alice was invited to assume the role of a daughter, and how does she apply the lessons learned therein to her relationship with Zoe?
10. How does Gideon use humor to address the challenges inherent in love, marriage, parenthood, friendship and life?
11. Alice admits that she hopes for a richer life with William—“rich in the ability to feel things as they’re happening, to not constantly be thinking of the next thing.” Do you think she’s achieved this after all?
A Q&A with Melanie Gideon, author of WIFE 22
Your previous work was your critically acclaimed memoir. What inspired you to turn to fiction, and where did the idea for WIFE 22 originate?
I was sitting in a bar with a friend. We were well into our second glass of wine, when, in researcher mode, I started asking her questions about her marriage. After she invoked a zone of confidentiality I was amazed at how forthright she was willing to be about everything: love, sex, aging, security, happiness and parenting. That's when I knew I was on to something. What if an ordinary wife and mother had the opportunity (and most importantly, the anonymity) to admit what she really thought, felt, wished for and dreamed, regretted and longed for in her life and marriage? Thus WIFE 22 was born.
Who do you think will connect with this novel, and why? Who is Wife 22?
I believe there's a little bit of Wife 22 in all of us, no matter what age, no matter what stage of a relationship you're in: married, single or, "it's complicated!" It's so easy to get stuck in a routine and so hard to get yourself out of it. I think we all yearn to be woken up.
Do you see any similarities between yourself and your heroine, Alice Buckle? Any differences?
Well, like Alice, I am about to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband. Unlike Alice, however, I did not receive an email soliciting me to participate in an anonymous online survey on marital satisfaction. And if I did, I would immediately dump it into my trash folder, because I know, after writing this book, how seductive and dangerous the act of confession can be. There are little bits of me in Alice, sure, but Alice is definitely her own person. Also she's nicer than me. And much more fluent with social media.
You pay homage to Joseph Heller and Catch 22 with the title and with a few circumstances Alice faces during the course of your novel. Can you shed a little light on how that came to be and what it signifies?
I think marriage is a sort of Catch 22. It's strange how some of the little quirks and eccentricities of your mate that you found so charming in the beginningthat may have even contributed to you falling in love with themtwenty years later are the things that drive you absolutely crazy.
Many of the novel's characters, especially Alice, engage in social media like Facebook and Twitter. How do you think these methods of communication have changed our lives and the relationships we have with others? How have they changed yours?
I resisted Facebook and Twitter for a long time, and I confess I still find it challenging to post, Tweet or blog. I get incredible stage fright trying to think of something clever to say. People will see itor worseignore it. What if nobody "likes" it? What if nobody comments? It's like middle school every day! Part of what I wanted to explore in WIFE 22 was whether social media brought us closer together or pushed us farther apart. I think it does both. I long for the old days when my husband and son and I would watch a TV show together. I mean really watch it, without our attention constantly flickering to the device on our laps. Watching TV in my household is not a passive act. We're always talking back to the TV, commenting, laughing: that's ridiculous, who told her she could sing? On the other hand I learn things about my husband every day through Facebook. New things. What he's thinking, what he's reading, what he's doing. Facebook allows us to be strangers to one another, to be voyeurs, but in a safe way. There's something about that distance that's titillating.
You've said that "Confession is a powerful aphrodisiac." Can you elaborate?
Anonymous confession? The chance to tell the absolute truth to a stranger? A stranger who doesn't judge, who listens intently, who asks all the right questions? That's very sexy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Oh, I absolutely adored Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon! It's clever, warm, witty, charming, funny, quirky, thoughtful, entertaining - did I say clever? And just - well - just a really good read! Alice Buckle has been happily married for over twenty years, but lately finds herself wondering about many things - her children, her health, her job and more, but most notably her relationship with her husband. They seem to be drifting apart. Or is it just settling into mid life together? "I know roommate is a taboo word, but here's a thought: what if being roommates is the natural stage of the middle part of marriage? What if that's the way it supposed to be? The only way we can be while getting through the long, hard slog of raising kids and trying to save money for retirement and coming to terms with the fact that there is no such thing as retirement anymore and we'll be working until the day we die?" When the opportunity to make $1000 participating in an online relationship survey appears in her inbox, Alice decides to participate. For anonymity's sake, she is labeled as Wife 22 and paired with Researcher 101. Gideon utilizes many different methods to tell Alice's story. Google search results, Twitter and Facebook postings, emails and the answers to the survey - without the questions. (Now they are listed in the back of the book. I thought about flipping back and forth but found it more fun to discern from the answer what the question might have been.) As Alice continues the survey, the professional lines between herself and Researcher 101 become blurred and Alice has to make a choice about the direction she wants her life to go.... Ahh, where to start? I loved Alice Buckle - the way her mind worked, her actions, her insecurities, her failures, her successes and more. She just seemed to be such a 'real' person. Gideon's cast of supporting characters is no less captivating. They're all equally well drawn, but Peter, her twelve year old son, was a stand out for me. Employing the online excerpts was a clever way to expand on Alice's story. Gideon is a very funny woman - I found myself laughing out loud many times. And stopping to think many times as well - Wife 22 explores married life with a keen eye. Highly recommended - I predict this one showing up on lots of summer reading lists.
I read this book looking for a fun read. And that is what I got! You won't be disappointed. It is a story of a family, specifically the wife, Alice. After being married for so long she and her husband are seemingly drifting apart. And she is questioning all her choices. There is a little mystery woven into the story that only adds to Alice's dilemma. Looking for a relaxing read that will keep you engaged? This is it!
I found this book in the USA Today as a must read for summer. I was looking for something different for a quick read. What a great surprise this book was. The characters were real life people, I could relate to. The plot was something most of us experience after several years of marrige. It made me think back on my life, how I met my husband, how I want my kids to grow up and how I love my life through good and bad. It was super and I will recommend it to my friends looking for a beach read.
Wife 22 is a fun and unique story about a wife, Alice Buckle, and her family and their life in the 21st century. Although I didn’t love this book, I didn’t completely dislike it either. My biggest issue was the fact that the answers to the survey questions were given in the chapters, but the actual questions were in the back of the book. It was very frustrating to have to keep flipping to the end to see what question she was answering. If this were an e-book, I would’ve probably given up. Why not just put the questions with the answers together? Another issue I had was that I just couldn’t connect with the main character, Alice. Although I’m around the same age, married and have teenage kids, I just couldn’t relate to or accept her character. There were several times I just wanted to jump in and give her shake and say ‘What are you doing?’ I found Alice to be a weak and dull character. The story revolves around an online marriage survey that Alice agrees to participate in. The questions relate to her personal life, married life and family. Alice was a writer, and most of her answers read like a script, very descriptive. I enjoyed the questions; they even had me thinking about my own life, and caused several conversations with my husband. That’s partly why I didn’t understand how they had the reverse effect on Alice and her husband. I wanted her to be more assertive and wanting to rekindle her marriage, especially after reading some of her answers to the questions. Instead of focusing on her marriage, she started up a flirty, yet friendly, anonymous relationship with the survey researcher. I just can’t help it, it drove me crazy. I guess I just have a strong opinion of marriage. As for her children – well, Alice was convinced that her son is gay, but he just doesn’t know it yet. She wants to be supportive of him, so she’s convinced herself of it, and discusses it with everyone. She also thinks her daughter has an eating disorder, so she just sits back and watches her and waits for any symptoms. Having kids of my own, I know how the drama and problems with kids change daily, but I felt that she (Alice) was just creating them on her own. Again, I just couldn’t relate to the issues she was bringing on. What I did like was the writing and format. I enjoyed the facebook posts and google searches. I thought this was unique and relevant to today’s way of life. The ending was okay, but lacking. It didn’t ‘WOW!’ me, like I was hoping. Overall, it was a fun and quick read, but because of my own personal values and way of life, I found it rather disappointing. I would NOT recommend this to be read as an e-book. If you like chick-lit and your open-minded when it comes to family and marriage, you would probably enjoy this. It's a quick and easy 'beach read'
This novel is written in an interesting manner. It is quirky and fun. I was totally unprepared for the ending. It blew me away.
I really enjoyed this book. I did have it figured out before I got to the end, but that was ok. Sometimes getting there is half the fun. It was an easy read that almost all 40+ women can relate to.
I won this book from Goodreads First Reads giveaways in return for an honest review.Wife 22 is about Alice, a housewife, who once dreamed of much more, but found happiness in William, her dashing boss who became her husband. But life has gotten in the way, and now she finds herself in a midlife crisis where she is unhappy and unfulfilled in both career and marriage. She gets an email that requests her responses to a marriage survey and pairs her up with a researcher. Little does she know that she will reveal more to a stranger than to her own husband...I absolutely loved this book. I laughed, I cried, and even though at times I hated Alice, I also empathized with her. She was very real. She was definitely someone I'd like to meet and have a cup of coffee with. I had mixed feelings about William, but then, I think that was the point. The supporting cast was wonderful, including her son Peter (Pedro?), and Bunny, a mentor from her previous life. While I loved all of the book, the parts that I cherished most were in her answers in the survey. Her words were real, funny, moving, poignant and beautiful all at the same time and I can see her love of words. The interjected chapters with Google searches and screenplay dramas are risky, because they aren't as well written and deep as the rest; but it works very well for the epilogue.Reading Wife 22 was refreshing after having read several duds. A very strong debut novel by Gideon, beautifully written and full of heart, and because of this, I have no doubt it will do very well.
¿Wife 22: A Novel¿ by Melanie Gideon is a story about a woman, Alice Buckle, who is hitting middle age and is trying to figure out her life. She has been married to her husband for almost 20 years and has two teenage kids, 15 year old Zoe and 12 year old Peter. Her mother died at the age that Alice will be at her next birthday and she is unsure how to handle the fact that she will be older than her mother was when her mother passed away. All this is cluttering her mind when she sees in her email a message that starts out innocently enough: ¿You¿ve been selected to participate in a marriage survey.¿ Agreeing to participate in this anonymous survey affects Alice¿s life in a way that she couldn¿t imagine as she begins to fall for ¿researcher 101¿ who is the person assigned to Alice to get and receive the answers for the survey.This book had me from page one where the first thing I read is ¿GOOGLE SEARCH ¿Eyelid Drooping¿.¿ When I opened to this page, I found myself so caught up in the story that I couldn¿t put the book down until I finished it. Ms. Gideon tells the story of Alice Buckle through narrative, internet searches, Facebook, and texting. Alice became a very believable character and I felt myself being caught up in her emotions, her confusions, and her life. There really are not any characters that detract from the story. Each person only adds to the richness of it.This is one of those rare books where I felt that I was literally looking into a magic ball and watching this other woman¿s life play out. At the end of the book, I even had tears because of what Alice was going through and how she was reacting to and handling everything that is going on in her life.I want to say ¿kudos¿ to Ms. Gideon for a story well told. ¿Wife 22¿ is her first novel, but I cannot envision it being her last. At least, I hope that it isn¿t her last. She has a way of connecting to the reader and I look forward to looking into another magic ball where I cannot look away until I know how it ends.**This book was received for free through Goodreads First Reads. That in no way influenced my review.**
The beginning is a 4 and the end is a 2 so I'm averaging it out to be a 3 star book. Very funny and touching but also very cliche. Can't say why though as it would be a terrible spoiler and it is an easy no-stress read so you should go for it.
Alice Buckle is a middle-aged wife and mother of a teenage daughter and twelve-year-old son. Her husband works in advertising, and she is a part-time elementary drama teacher. On the outside, everything seems good, but the facade soon starts to crack.Her husband William loses his job, and their relationship has been strained of late. She thinks that her daughter may have an eating disorder and she believes her son is gay but he just doesn't know it.One day she gets an email request to join a research project about 21st century marriage. She has to answer a series of questions about how she met husband, fell in love and about their subsequent relationship. Alice begins to develop a on-line relationship with her researcher, and they eventually begin talking on Facebook (with fake profiles) and agree to meet.The novel is novel in that much of it consists of email messages between Alice and her researcher, and uses Facebook status updates to convey some of the story. We get to know some of Alice's friends and family through the Facebook updates, and since my sons constantly remind me that now only "old people" like my friends and me use Facebook, this book should hold appeal for our age group.The characters in the book are interesting and well-developed, and I particularly liked Alice's friend Nedra, a divorce lawyer who is finally marrying her girlfriend of many years. Nedra tries to be the voice of reason for Alice as she falls farther down the hole, like her literary doppleganger in Wonderland.As a mother of two grown children, I could relate to Alice's connection with her children, and the relationship she had with her son was particularly touching.As Alice answers the questions, she reflects back on her marriage, where it began and how it ended up where it is. I think that many women reading this may do the same. One thing I found interesting was that we saw Alice's answers, but we didn't see the questions; we had to guess what they were.I read the book on my Kindle, and at the end of the book, the questions are given, but you had to go back through the book to match them up. This would be easier to do with actual physical book rather than an ebook, so I would recommend reading this in book form.I have to admit that halfway through this book, I thought I saw where it was going and I was not happy about it. But I have to give to credit to Gideon, she took what could have been a cliche and skillfully created a satisfying resolution to the story.One sign of a good book for me is that I continue to reflect upon it after I finish reading it, and weeks later, I'm still thinking about Wife 22.
It takes a bit to get used to the way the story is told using various forms of social media, Google searches, emails and Alice's answers to the survey questions. Once I got the flow of the book I was hooked. Even though Alice is a few years younger than I am, and at times I did not like her, I could relate to her life. This is laugh out-loud funny at times. I saw the ending coming and thought Alice's way back was not as complete as I would have wanted. An entertaining debut novel.
Reading the summary of this book hooked me in and I knew that I had to read this book. I was very intrigued by the whole idea of the marriage study. Right away I was able to connect with Alice and found myself in love with her family. These characters are characters that you can really root for. The best thing about them is they are believable and easy to relate to.I liked the marriage study and reading Alice's answers to the questions. (I just wish the questions would have been with the answers instead of having to flip to the back of the book in order to read the questions.) I am a little iffy about the relationship between Alice and Researcher 101, at times it didn't seem too realistic and frankly it seemed creepy too.There was a twist to this story and it really wasn't too hard to figure out before it is revealed. That fact that I figured it out way early didn't really lessen my interest in it that much. I felt like the twist enhanced the story and made the ending really sweet. I also really enjoyed the creative way the epilogue was set up.Overall this book was good and I would really recommend this to women. This is definitely a book that all women can enjoy and relate to.[I won this book from a Librarything Early Reviewers giveaway which in no way affects the content of my review.]
Alice is struggling with the fact she's about to reach the age her mother died at, so she decides to take part in an online survey about marriage. She remembers how it all started, and how they got to where they are now. She also struggles with her kids (is her son gay? Does her daughter have an eating disorder?). This book made me literally laugh out loud numerous times. I highly recommend it.
I really enjoyed this take on a modern marriage in the throes of middle-aged angst. Alice Buckle is a loving wife, mom and elementary school drama teacher whose insecurities and minor internet obsessions make her a very believable character. Her role in the novel is bolstered by a great supporting cast, including her maybe-gay adolescent son Peter, whose assistance and judgement Alice seeks for all fashion-related decisions; Zoe, her teenage daughter/mini-me who may or may not suffer from an eating disorder; and Nedra, Alice's gay lawyer best friend whose happy and sex-filled relationship torments Alice in this time of midlife crisis.When Alice is approached to participate in an anonymous online survey about love and marriage, she jumps at the chance. She is soon connected to 'Researcher 101' and, in her role as 'Wife 22', shares intimate details, fears and stories with ease. Her responses to the seemingly random array of questions paint a vivid picture of Alice's early love and romance, and subsequently what she feels is lacking in her current relationship with her husband of 20 years. Alice soon comes to rely heavily on her internet relationship with Researcher 101, craving his communication to the point that she begins to feel the relationship has taken an illicit turn, and even considers relinquishing her anonymity to meet him in person. How do we keep love and romance alive over time? How do we reconnect with loved ones from whom we've grown distant? How do we balance our kids, our jobs and our sex lives? These are Alice's personal dilemmas, ones with which I imagine many readers can relate. Melanie Gideon's prose is witty, her sense of humor self-deprecating but never cruel - I highly recommend this book as a fun and engaging summer read. I give it 4 1/2 stars, and look forward to reading more from this author.
It was a hard book for me to read, as it is written primarily as emails, facebook entries, and text messages. I didn't enjoy reading it in this format. It 's a story about a woman coming to grips with her age, her marriage, and her children's potential problems. In spite of her sense of humor, it still felt negative and depressing. If you're a fan of chick-lit, then you'll probably like this (if the format doesn't bother you). If you've grown through the issues the main character is dealing with, you may enjoy seeing how she handles them and laugh when she laughs, or you may not want to re-live the angst that comes with emotional growth. For me, it was the latter and I think I'll stick to murder mysteries and historical fiction.
This review is based on the Advance Reader's Edition, received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's program.One day, this novel will seem laughably dated, with its references to Facebook and Twitter and the Gap and searching on Google. Right now, though, it's those things that make it feel very current and now, and that is one of the book's most appealing aspects. I am drawn to epistolary tales and while this isn't written 100% in that style, it also makes use of standard narrative form, it feels that way, as the reader gets a voyeur's glimpse at emails and Facebook chats. This story about 40-something Alice Buckle, a wife and mother who questions her life and marriage when she is invited to participate in an online marriage research project, could be dismissed as just a "chick-lit" beach fluff; but I feel it's definitely worth reading. There's real depth to it, and it made me think and nod in recognition at much of it. As the emails and Facebook chats get more interesting between Alice ("Wife 22") and "Researcher 101", Gideon examines what it is to be a female in her 40s in America at this moment in time, what it is to be in love or not in love, what it is to be a wife and mother and friend...and what it is to wonder who you are underneath all those labels, who you were before you were "Wife 22" or mother of two.I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the conclusion (which I did not guess, and I'm not sure if that says anything about me or not), or about both the main characters. I also found myself wishing that the questions Alice answers in the project were not something you either have to guess at or look in the back for. I questioned some of her decisions, conclusions and actions. Yet I also liked her and felt like I got her, and I was hooked; this is one of those books that grabbed me from the start and didn't let go. Melanie Gideon's writing style, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and the desire to find out what happens next kept me avidly turning the pages. I read the entire thing in one day.
Melanie Gideon's Wife 22 was a book that I didn't want to put down. Alice Buckle, the book's main character, is incredibly likeable even when she is most neurotic. Feeling under-appreciated and belittled by her husband, and worried that her marriage is turning into the dreaded roommate scenario, Alice agrees to take part in a study of marriage int he 21st century. Her interactions with the research interviewer, as well as the texts from her father & the Facebook wall posts with her friends are scattered throughout the book and run the gamut from heartwarming and touching to outright hilarious. There were a few instances when I laughed out loud while reading - I love when I book can make me guffaw! I think this book will be enjoyed by many due to Gideon's wonderful voice, and will especially hit close to home with readers who are nearing or in the throes of mid-life and asking themselves, "Is this all there is?".
Wife 22 centers around the marriage of Alice and William Buckle. They have been married for 20 years and have two teenage children. Living in Oakland, CA (Bay Area representing!) their marriage seems to be stuck in a malaise. Alice feels like this year in particular needs some shaking up. She has reached the same age as her mother was when she passed away and so I think she realises that if there is a reason to keep living this life, then she needs it to be proven to her so she is pushing against all of those around her.Alice could be considered a technology junkie. She is on Facebook and email all the time. One day, in her spam folder, she sees an email for a marriage survey and decides to click on it. Investigating the foundation which it is through, she figures it is legit and decides to participate. Alice is assigned a researcher to guide her through the survey, Researcher 101, and she is assigned an acronym for anonymity, Wife 22, and the survey begins.As the book unfolds, the chapters differentiate between typical book dialogue as we learn about the life of Alice and her family and friends, to Alice's online chatter, to the survey questions she answers. The questions she is asked are in the back of the book, by the way. This personally was the only thing I didn't like. I wanted to know both the questions and the answers and had I not read a review by someone else tipping me off to the fact that the questions were in the back I would have had no idea and I felt that the questions naturally enhanced the nature of her answers. They ranged from how her and her husband met, to writing a letter to your children saying all of the things you can't say to them right now.As she is letting go of all of these intense emotions about her husband she realizes that her relationship with him in its present state isn't what it once was and she starts to wonder if it can ever get back to it. She also realises that her relationship with Researcher 101 has grown into something more than she has ever expected, even though she has never met him. And that is the crux of the story. This analyzation of a modern marriage and what exactly is cheating totally fascinated me and I would highly recommend it to anyone else who finds this topic at all interesting too. I also thing it would be a great book club read too with so many emotions brought up!
I adored this book. Perhaps it was because I can relate so well to the mother who is addicted to social media, who feels as though life should be offering more. Perhaps it is because I was also very saddened when googling myself. (About 8,340,000 results, very few of which actually have to do with me.)Gideon is able to create a character I wanted to know, in all of her flaws. She created a survey I wanted to take part in, with the twist that you knew was coming, but kept reading to see how she would play it out.It is a great modern tale, reflecting how we judge ourselves and the important members of our social network, be it partner, child, friend, or acquaintance. It is likely not a book that will move through time as a classic, but it is an important read for anyone who questions love and life in the facebook age.
I was expecting to like this one, but in fact I've left it sitting partially read for a couple of weeks now and I'm going to call it (un)done. I just can't get into it. I think the main obstacle for me is the multitude of different "formats" -- Google searches, emails, text messages, Facebook posts, actual paragraphs, and of course Alice's answers to the research questions. These really slowed me down because I found myself trying to figure out exactly what the question was. Now I realize the questions are in the back of the book, but I don't really want to be flipping back and forth, either. The story itself is not bad, the writing is not bad; if it were written as all narration I would probably like it well enough. Mind you, I don't really want to criticize the author for making the choices she did; there's nothing wrong with trying new things. It just doesn't really work for me.
Wife 22 is an energetic novel about Alice Buckle, a wife and mother who is seemingly going through a mid-life crisis, when she gets an invitation in her e-mail to participate in an online study of marriage. Alice is self-involved and not entirely likable. The book is fast paced and sometimes manic through the use of facebook posts and e-mail conversations. I did enjoy the book more than I expected.
I received this book as an advance copy. It is scheduled to come out on May 29th.Wife 22 meet wife 23! It is possible that my feelings about this book are clouded because I identified with it so strongly but I think it will appeal to many women. Feeling a bit underwhelmed by life, her drama teacher job and her family Alice applies to an ad calling for women to take a marriage survey. As Alice begins to answer questions regarding her life, family and spouse she also begins to see her life under the microscope and begins a new friendship? with the researcher who is assigned to her. What happens is a series of real life situations and email/Facebook conversations between Alice and Researcher 101. As the reader we are privy to modern marriage and modern life - from Peter their young son to Zoe the teenage daughter to William the husband- everyone is grappling with their role in the family and online identity. The ending makes sense but was the only part that seems too good to be true. Hilarious and tearful at times the book reads true - Melanie Gideon has a terrific voice and I am looking forward to the next book.
Let me start with the title. It is possibly the only thing I didn't like about the book. I caught the reference to Catch 22 by Joseph Heller immediately, but I really didn't like that book when I read it as a teenager many years ago. I might like it now, but at the time, I was just too young to relate to the characters. I couldn't imagine how Catch 22 could possibly be successfully incorporated into a story about marriage. I am not a fan of books about marriage in general. (I've been married for 26 years and while I love my husband and my life, I don't find it all that entertaining. I read for fun!) The cover art is pretty, but it didn't entice me to open the book. So, Wife 22 ended up in my ¿to read¿ pile.I happened to pick the book off the top of my stack when I was too lazy to figure out where I had left the book I was currently reading. Before I knew if I was half way through the book! The format of the book is unique, and captured my attention immediately. It alternates between Facebook posts, emails and survey questions, along with text. It mirrors the way most of us relate IRL (in real life). I found the format to be great fun to read.I want to be Alice Buckle's friend! Alice is a totally relatable character. She is flawed, quirky, funny and just a little neurotic. She is so...real! Melanie Gideon has created one of the more memorable characters of the year. I can see why the movie rights were snatched up before the book was even completed. I only hope that the movie does justice to the book.Of course, there is a twist to the plot and I saw it coming pretty far in advance, but it really didn't matter. The story continued to hold my interest and I couldn't wait to see how it all played out. I wasn't disappointed. Wife 22 is throughly entertaining and a sweet reminder of all things that I love about marriage and family life. Pick up a copy and take it to the beach with you! Then pass it on to your best girlfriends and plan a girls nite out for the future release of the movie.
This book had me within a few sentences. I loved how the story was told through `traditional¿ fiction, Facebook posts, Google searches and emails. Alice Buckle is very flawed, but still likable. I cared what happened to her and more than that, her family. I knew that there would be a twist. Isn¿t there always? But I was so happening to have only discovered it moments before Alice. It made the conclusion that much sweeter. This is a well written, imaginative novel. Chick lit in the best possible sense.
Wife-22 is predictable. You have met the players, you have seen the story play out before. That being said, the author makes the journey enjoyable.Alice is 44 years old. She is married with two kids. She has a good job. She has a nice circle of friends. She is ripe for a good, old-fashioned mid-life crisis.One day Alice receives and email asking her to be part of an online marriage survey. She receives the handle of "Wife 22" and is paired with "Researcher 101". While she has been feeling somewhat dissatisfied with her life for a while, it is through these questions that she begins to understand the reasons. Through contrasting her courtship and early years of her marriage to what she has now, she sees it is lacking in many of the things she once treasured. Like I said, you have read this before.The difference here is the way the story is told. The story isn't just a simple narrative, but is interspersed with Facebook postings, Google searches, and email exchanges. We see Alice's answers to the questions she is given, but we don't see the questions. I found this keeping me much more interested as I tried to figure out exactly what she was answering. (The questions are in an appendix at the end of the book, but I don't suggest reading them until after finishing the book. It really would spoil much of the fun.)This book could have easily faded into obscurity if it were to stand on the story alone, but Melanie Gideon used some very innovative ideas to keep things fresh. This is a book you will want to take to the beach with you.