Wife in the North

Wife in the North

by Judith O'Reilly

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Overview

When Judith O'Reilly, a successful journalist and mother of three, agreed to leave London for a remote northern outpost, she made a deal with her husband that the move was a test-run to weigh the benefits of country living. In the rugged landscape of Northumberland County, O'Reilly swapped her high heels for rubber boots and life-long friends for cows, sheep, and strange neighbors.

In this tremendously funny and acutely observed memoir, O'Reilly must navigate the challenges and rewards of motherhood, marriage, and family as she searches for her own true north in an alien landscape. Her intrepid foray into the unknown is at once a hilarious, fish-out-of-water story and a poignant reflection on the modern woman's dilemma of striking the right balance between career and family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786749485
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 06/17/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 530 KB

About the Author

Judith O'Reilly was the education correspondent for The Sunday Times of London, where she also reported on politics and news, and worked undercover on education and social and criminal justice investigations. She is a former political producer for ITV's Channel 4 News and BBC2's Newsnight. A freelance journalist, she started her blog www.wifeinthenorth.com in 2006. She lives in England.

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Wife in the North 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
UnadornedBook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did not much care for Wife in the North. Though not a bad novel, I couldn't get used to the choppy writing style. I did not feel the book flowed well; it was at times confusing and unclear . At one moment the author would wax poetic, the next she would rant "bloody hell". I guess my main dissapointment was in that I was expecting a "story" and the book was more of a series of journal entries, which in and of itself was actually a neat idea.That aside, you can't help but like Judith. She is an everywoman. Who hasn't made a difficult decision for the love of their family? She loves her family dearly. She's funny, honest, loyal and open. Having read Wife in the North I can say she is a testament to the indomitable spirit of all mothers.I originally rated Wife in the North only two stars. But after some relflection I've decided to change it to 3 stars. It still wasn't my favorite read but it was memorable
curvymommy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was nothing like I thought it would be. I was expecting a light-hearted memoir, but instead got a moving, poignant tale of motherhood.This author has a writing style unlike anything I've read before, and it took me awhile to get used to the cadence and tone of her writing. I struggled with it at first. But once I got attuned to her style, it became a much easier read.Yes, there are moments of hilarity. But there are also many more moments of despair, love, sadness, fear, happiness, belonging. As a mother of 3 boys very near in ages to the author's children, I could completely relate to the author's feelings of frustration, hopelessness, tiredness and yet deep, unending love for her children. The shock near the end was heart-wrenching (despite the fact that it had been hinted at, and I was half-expecting it), and I had real tears falling as I read it. I was quite moved. The descriptions of the northern English countryside and way of life were also very entertaining. I love British books, but so often they are set in London, and so I had never really read about this part of the country. It was a refreshing change.If you are looking for a fluffy, light read, this is not it. But this book is so definitely worth reading - especially if you are a mother - do give it a try. :)
ChicagoCubs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It took me a while to get through it because it was non-fiction, but that was ok because I didn't want the book to end. It was funny and heart felt.
Alirambles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A blog in book form, chronicling the adventures of a woman who agrees to an experiment her husband proposes, leaving London for the northern English countryside. O'Reilly comes across as a personable woman, a loving mother and wife, a good friend. None of the other characters came alive for me, though--perhaps because none of them had names. I understand protecting anonymity in a memoir; that's what pseudonyms are for. I had no mental image of "the four-year-old," no way to distinguish "the Patient Mother" from "the London Diva," and so on.Reilly is a talented blogger. If you're looking for sometimes funny, often thought-provoking mini-essays from a fish-out-of-water in the north of England, this is an enjoyable read. If you're hoping for a story arc, character development and growth, a plot that's stitched together in a meaningful way--this isn't it. For better or for worse, this is real life, blogged as it happened, then printed out almost verbatim, and bound.
amfm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book, I really did. The subject matter is right up my alley with themes like isolation and travel and obscure places, but the bottom line is it just didn't really resonate with me. I never bonded with the author and I often found myself baffled by much of the motivation behind the experiences.One of the biggest themes and the cause of a great deal of my confusion and frustration with this memoir was how it came to be that the author, who pined for London, ended up getting stranded in Northumberland. Her husband who was the driving force behind the move, however, spent most of his time in London on business. This particular point not only boggled my mind, but also made her complaints and struggles feel trite and almost unnecessary. By the fourth time she ran out of gas (because she was incapable of checking the gauge while her husband was in town), I wanted to throw the book out the window. Her dealings with her children and especially their adjustments to the move offered some redemption, but overall the book left me underwhelmed.This memoir has its funny and poignant moments, but much of it felt hollow. Interesting read, but not my idea of an engrossing tale.
lahochstetler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is Judith O'Reilly's account of her family's move from London to the Northumberland countryside. A devoted city girl, O'Reilly is married to a Northumberland man who dreamed of going back, so she decideded to grant his wish; she agreed to move to the north for two years. But for O'Reilly life in the north is hardly a dream. She misses her London life, lacks close friends in her new home, and finds that everything, from her neighbors's dress to local pastimes is a world apart from what she knew in London. Culture-shocked, O'Reilly begins writing a blog about her experiences. This book is comprised of the blog entries. I'd never read a book comprised of blog entries before, but I found that the format worked surprisingly well. It's more like jumping into the middle of someone else's life than just about any other could be. I very much enjoyed reading this. O'Reilly is humorous, and she's willing to bare her soul on her blog. Her story is interesting, and I couldn't wait to get to the end to see what they would decide to do at the end of two years (she won't tell you until the epilogue!) In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I, too, have recently move from a more urban and populated area to one very different, so I had a great deal of sympathy for O'Reilly's plight. Ultimately, this book combines some of the best features of the memoir and the travel narrative, as O'Reilly clearly approaches Northumberland as an outsider, and it's interesting to see how she interprets her experience through the lens of place. The book offers an intimate picture of a family and a marriage, and shows the ways in which people define home. When I got to the epilogue the final decision was what I had anticipated, and it's interesting that O'Reilly's words illustrate the direction the family is headed, even if she could not see so at the time she was writing the blog. Overall, a very enjoyable read.
tara35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Judith O'Reilly was not what you'd call completely thrilled when she and her husband decided to move to Northern England with their three small children. O'Reilly is a city girl, but she agreed to move on a trial basis to give her husband the opportunity to fulfill his dream of living in a small village. There's a lot in this book that I and other mothers of young children can empathize with. Feeling like a single parent when your spouse is working long hours. Going from career woman to stay-at-home mommy and feeling as though you've lost your identity. Moving to a far-away place where it seems you will never fit in. Parenting your own children when it seems your own parents are beginning to need parenting. The most poignant parts of this book were when O'Reilly discussed the trouble her son had at school with bullying and the struggle she went through to help him. She stood up for him - and wrote about it publicly - at the risk of loosing friends which she did in some cases. The Vicar even asked her to tone it down a bit. I felt admiration for O'Reilly in the way she handled herself and how she helped make school a more welcoming place for her son.Wife in the North is made of a series of what feel like diary entries and what are, in fact, blog entries. The style of writing took me a while to get used to since it did not flow in a traditional way and felt more 'choppy' than fluid. This prevented me from every really feeling immersed in this story. At times, I also questioned why O'Neill found herself in this position in the first place. Her husband, the full time wage earner in the family continues to work in London, so O'Neill finds herself alone quite a bit which seemed counterproductive. Overall, this was an entertaining book, and is probably of most interest to young mothers, rather than people who are looking to begin a new life in a new place.
jhedlund on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I should start by confessing that after reading several "blog-to-books", I've decided I don't care for the genre overall. Anecdotes that I might find funny, quirky and insightful in a day-to-day or weekly format don't seem to translate well into books. I find they often come off as too self-absorbed (how could they not?), too whiny and just plain trying too hard to pull a story out of an everyday, non-linear life. What works in small doses becomes hard to swallow in a tome.After reading about a third of Wife in the North, I'd resigned myself to the same experience with this book. It seemed like it was going to be a combination of two themes: first, "long suffering wife gives up high power, glamorous career to raise children while husband keeps his career"; and second, "city girl unwillingly uproots herself to the country and through her own determination and fortitude, learns to appreciate the charms of its bumpkin people and character".Of course, the book does cover that ground, as the author, her husband and three children move from London to the far northern English countryside of Northumberland. Having lived in England for two years, I can assure the places are, in fact, worlds apart culturally. O'Reilly's chronicles of her angst and foibles trying to whittle a new life for herself and her family with a fresh piece of wood are funny without being condescending, which I appreciated (It's far too often that a writer will go for a laugh at the expense of innocent bystanders). What really surprised me about the book, however, and why I gave it four stars, was O'Reilly's ability to capture the emotional highs and extreme lows of motherhood, and the fierce, unrelenting love of a mother for her children. As we learn more about her, she reveals a depth that I didn't expect based on the beginning of the book. Her writing is sumptuous -- in turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, and very, very accurate when it comes to describing the complexity and compromises associated with balancing self, marriage and children, and that most of the time, one or the other (or all) are left hanging precariously. I found myself captivated by small descriptive passages, such as her relationship with the view of the lighthouse from her bedroom window, and the birdsong heralding the onset of spring. I found myself crying full, wet tears at the end when she slapped a revelation down so hard, and I could relate much more closely with her life decisions. Gorgeous book.
AquariusNat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful memoir . It is written in the style of a journal/blog . The author shares some truely funny moments , but the overall tone is beautiful and poignant . If you're married /a parent you'll probably relate to many situations in the story . I really enjoyed this book and will look into the author's blog which continues her story .
mojumi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First found Judith O'Reilly through her blog, and followed her travels for the many months leading up to the publication of her book (and all the lost car keys, flat tires, chickens, mud, and sweet rowdy children getting there). If you also have kept up with her blog, the book may seem like nothing new. In an effort to make her book seem to have more 'plot' -- aside from life-is-my-plot -- some of the stories of her life I found most touching (like her relationship with her mother) are somewhat abridged. Others -- like a particular family catastrosphy -- were shared with a deeply poignant emotion and will be new to her blog fans.
lrobe190 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 2005, journalist Judith O'Reilly agrees to move to the north of England with her husband and three young children to sample life in the country. Judith loves London, is a successful journalist and has many friends. Not only is living in the country like being a fish out of water for her, her husband's job takes him frequently back to London for days and weeks at a time, leaving her alone to cope with this strange new life.O'Reilly brilliantly captures the experience and her reaction to it with exquisite imagery. Every woman will identify with her frustration, confusion, anger, sadness and, yes, happiness as they experience the adventure right along with her. At times I laughed out loud and sometimes, I cried or was angry. The book is written in a diary or memo format, so at times, it was difficult to follow. Also, if you aren't British, it is a little confusing figuring our what she's talking about when she uses British phrases. These drawbacks do not take away from the pleasure of immersing yourself in this adventure. Strongly recommended.
nyiper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the completely descriptive and emotionally laden happenings written in almost diary format surrounding the total efforts to move body and spirit into a completely unknown set of circumstances, especially when you really don't want to---and with three small children practically attached to you! I kept wondering if she really and truly DID love that husband of hers. He appears in different places but does not seem very attentive to the exhaustive efforts she makes to keep the family going while he is not there, which apparently is a lot of the time. I love her throughly English writing---you can see it, feel it and hear it and her names for people and places are delightful. It sounded as though the entire moving/building event was horrendously expensive---so that's why her husband was gone so often--to earn the money? Or maybe he was just escaping it all---very clever.She kept claiming all sort of things about getting old but she certainly had more than enough energy to try all kinds of new experiences---very impressive. And the things that kept happening over and over--running out of "petrol" and losing keys....wonderful descriptive pieces throughout of sand and water and sky-- quite enjoyable to read. I look forward to continuing to read her blog about her life.
leadmomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This blog to book chronicles the story of a mother-wife as she moved from London to the north of England, along with her 2 boys and another baby on the way. One thing that I liked about this book is that the story built on itself, and I could find out what happened next without waiting for the next post. This story is about a challenging year for anyone, and while many of the stories were funny, there were times when I grew tired of the story.
bffs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the first half of the book I was physically irritated and anxious for O'Reilly. I was mad at her husband for, mad at her friends, and mad at the amount of work innately involved with three children. About halfway through the book I found myself less anxious and less irritated. It was as if I was traveling the journey with O'Reilly. This is about the same point in the book where she begins to rally and decides to take charge of her happiness. For me, writing a book/blog so that your reader feels as if they are a part of the journey requires a special talent. I also think O'Reilly is laugh-out-loud funny. I only gave it three stars because despite my appreciation for O'Reilly's guts and style, I found myself wishing for more detail, less blog. And...I'm still mad at the husband.
russelllindsey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Early Reviewer Program -Even though I'm not a mother, I could identify with the author in innumerable ways (sometimes a little too closely). I, too, have been a fish out of water and can understand why she had difficulty adjusting to her new environment; I also understand why she moved in the first place. Quite frankly, this was one of the more nuanced books I've read lately. There is a depth to her memoirs that let her humanity shine through; unfortunately, I find that rare in similar books. For me, the book built and further developed Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones. No, this book isn't about Miss Jones, but I have a feeling that Mrs. O'Reilly might have gotten along well with her (a more grown-up version) if Bridget wasn't a work of fiction.I particularly liked her frank discussions on bullying, making friends, and the chaos that is (or was?) her life. These are private issues that are rarely discussed in public. If there was more candid discussion of such subjects, especially in early childhood, I believe that the world would be a much kinder place. I give her credit from not backing down from her blog.The one difficulty I had with the book was language at times. Yes, it is English, but the British have many different terms that aren't used often in the United States. Many I knew from popular culture and travel to the United Kingdom; yet, there were a few that eluded me. Overall, a highly recommended book IF you like reading about the daily struggles of ordinary people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read. Didn't like her choices. The husband dictates what the family will do but gives up little to have what he desires. Appeared to be a good choice for the children. I don't know how she could have been happy in the situation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was nothing like I thought it would be. I was expecting a light-hearted memoir, but instead got a moving, poignant tale of motherhood. This author has a writing style unlike anything I've read before, and it took me awhile to get used to the cadence and tone of her writing. I struggled with it at first. But once I got attuned to her style, it became a much easier read. Yes, there are moments of hilarity. But there are also many more moments of despair, love, sadness, fear, happiness, belonging. As a mother of 3 boys very near in ages to the author's children, I could completely relate to the author's feelings of frustration, hopelessness, tiredness and yet deep, unending love for her children. The shock near the end was heart-wrenching 'despite the fact that it had been hinted at, and I was half-expecting it', and I had real tears falling as I read it. I was quite moved. The descriptions of the northern English countryside and way of life were also very entertaining. I love British books, but so often they are set in London, and so I had never really read about this part of the country. It was a refreshing change. If you are looking for a fluffy, light read, this is not it. But this book is so definitely worth reading - especially if you are a mother - do give it a try. :)