The Wife

The Wife

by Meg Wolitzer
3.9 22

Paperback(1st Scribner Trade Paperback Edition)

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The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer brings her characteristic wit and intelligence to a provocative story about the evolution of a marriage, the nature of partnership, the question of a male or female sensibility, and the place for an ambitious woman in a man’s world.

The moment Joan Castleman decides to leave her husband, they are thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean on a flight to Helsinki. Joan’s husband, Joseph, is one of America’s preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award, and Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has finally decided to stop. From this gripping opening, Meg Wolitzer flashes back to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village and follows the course of the marriage that has brought the couple to this breaking point—one that results in a shocking revelation.

With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer has crafted a wise and candid look at the choices all men and women make—in marriage, work, and life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743456661
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 04/13/2004
Edition description: 1st Scribner Trade Paperback Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 153,517
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Meg Wolitzer's novels include Sleepwalking; This Is Your Life; Surrender, Dorothy; and The Wife. She lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

May 28, 1959

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York


B.A., Brown University, 1981

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Wife 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the moment you start this witty, entertaining novel, you know you are not only reading a wickedly funny, honest look at the characters and their relationship, but there is also some serious commentary on the worlds of men and woment. The story is engaging and the writing crisp and entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book, and I thought the character development was adequate for being a shorter read. I highly recommend this book to others, especially book groups.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the novel that sent me looking for everything Meg Wolitzer ever wrote. Beautifully crafted and disturbingly real. For any person who has been or plans on being married.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From a therapist's perspective, this was a marvellous 'unpacking' of a marriage. Sure, maybe Joan could have acted to save herself at an earlier stage of her marriage, but she had spent her life being the dutiful wife and mother, and feminism had passed her by. Plus, there were clearly some rewards for her in staying. Sure, we can admonish her for not leaving sooner, but here she is striking a blow for seniors, having the last say and finally taking a stand. To take such a stand at this phase of her life is truly courageous- yet Joan has not needed the reader's sympathy. If anyone has needed it, it is the shallow and seemingly talentless Joe. But he plays the last card in the end....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Solid 3.5 Stars This was the first book that I read by Meg Wolitzer and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is chick-lit on the next level. It is a fast, easy read, but not in that whimsical format that typical chick-lit is written in. Very solid story with very solid writing, with a nice little twist at the end (although I had figured it out pretty early on). I will definitely be adding more of Wolitzer's books to my reading list and I would highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just happens to mention short length e g its a novella please can we have honesty in ads as to actually text length
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with the comparisons to Philip Roth, but her characters don't develop as much as I would have liked. I figured out the ending about 1/2 of the way through and kept hoping it would turn out to be something different - something not as predictable. Maybe I am too young (born in 1973), but I don't see Joan as a particularly strong woman for doing what she did, or for putting up with all that she did. The cattiness of the women who sought out Joe were right on, and I did enjoy the narrative flow. The intertwining of flashbacks were seamless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The wife, Joan, is both a complicated yet predictable character. She resents her husband for basking in the glory that is rightfully hers. Yet she continues to flame his career as a novelist unbeknownst to the literary world. Even with her resentment of her husband's underserving success and the barriers faced by women writers she did, in the end, exactly what I believed she would do--she remained overly loyal to her husband. The Wife is great bookclub material.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found that the actions of the main character ('the wife') are not so black and white. If the author's intent was to gain my sympathy for this character and take pity on her life's outcome, it backfired. Instead, I felt the book raised a lot of questions on how much power and control the wife actually had and executed to control the course of her marriage. It's sure to ignite some interesting discussions in book groups, especially if there is a mix of single and married people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definitely not uplifting. It was hard for me to see the 'witty side' of marital infidelity, abandoned offspring, pot smoking and self-indulgence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I began reading this book out of a sense of obligation to my book club. But suddenly I found myself sucked into this world of Joan and Joe. I laid next to my sleeping, snoring husband and read through the night. And in the early hours of this morning I reached the stunning conclusion of the book. I felt much the same as I did after seeing the movie 'The Sixth Sense.' I wanted to read the book all over again, this time with a whole new understanding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard the most compelling reading of this book prior to publication on The Next Big Thing Jan 3, 2003. Listen to this for a great hook into the story (use to find the web site by listing the title and claire bloom). I hope Claire Bloom will read the whole book. I'm looking forward to reading the whole story regardless.
JHK1216 More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book. I loved the writing style & I can't wait to read more books by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book about a woman taking on the job of supporting a notable writer. It is funny, poigniant and very real. Most women will relate to her. It makes you wonder if it is our fault we have created the flaws in men.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to respond to the review from eak321, I know it was a few years back but I just found this writer. The reviewer has obviously not finished the book or they would not have come to the conclusions they did. They would have known Joan was not jealous because she didnt have a writing career and they would have known the entire story about the incident between Joan, Joe, and the son. Another err in the review was that she ignored her husband and he had an affair with the nanny. So not the case. As a parent I felt Joans pain when she had to leave the children behind because she did put her husband first. I hope no one lets that review stop them from reading this engaging book or any of her other books for I have read them all and this author is truely talented.
eak321 More than 1 year ago
THE WIFE opens with Joe, a celebrated writer, and his wife Joan flying to Finland so he can accept an award in literature. It is during the flight that Joan decides to leave her husband of many, many years. "The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility." What drew me to novel was this first line. You can usually tell a lot about a book by the line with which an author chooses to open up a novel. I was immediately intrigued and curious what led up to that moment. We're meant to feel sympathetic towards Joan, "the wife." However, she quickly becomes a dull, unsympathetic character, which I don't believe was the author's intention. Joan is rather one-dimensional and slowly destroys her own marriage with her own jealousy. She is jealous over the fame and success her husband achieved as a writer while she gave up her own writing career -- by choice -- for him and a family. A family she can't even help take care of herself. We're supposed to feel sympathetic for a wealthy, non-working mother who hires a nanny for her kids...and then becomes upset when she stops paying attention to her husband and he has an affair with the hot, young nanny? Methinks not. I expected Meg Wolitzer, the author, to develop the story, using flashbacks, from that moment Joan decides aboard the airplane to leave her husband. Instead, Wolitzer takes the story all the way back to the beginning, before the two even met. The story is supposed to be from the wife's point of view, and yet she reveals details about her husband before she even met/knew him. She then continues with background information overload rather than showing much about their present day, everyday, supposedly unhappy life. From the start, it's nothing but back story after back story. For me, there was just too much telling and not enough showing. By the end of the story, I didn't feel like I really knew (or cared about) the characters because there wasn't enough dialogue or conflict sequences between them. I wasn't living the moment with them; I was being told something happened without actually seeing it or feeling the emotions that were supposed to be included. To make matters worse, Wolitzer dwells on the insignificant pieces of history and bypasses important, interesting parts. Case in point, in one part of the book, she rambled on about something I can't even recall until a physical fight/incident occurs between her husband and her unstable son. But then the interested reader isn't offered any details. She just tells the reader that the son was brought to a mental institution. We're never given any additional details about, what I consider, this pretty important life-shaping event. On the other hand, there were some highlights within the short novel (or novella?). Particular descriptive phrases that the author, Meg Wolitzer, chose were so visual, clever, insightful, and perfectly written. If only her writing was this full of life throughout the entire book. I wanted to like the book. I really did. There just wasn't enough substance to draw me into it. To quote Wolitzer herself, "Many [books are] dull and just waiting to be dumped into remainder bins." I guess that's why I found THE WIFE there and should learn to stop dumpster diving.