The Wife's Tale: A Novel

The Wife's Tale: A Novel

by Lori Lansens


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The Wife's Tale: A Novel by Lori Lansens

Mary Gooch was once young and slender and carefree. But with each passing year she's accumulated an excess of pounds and worries. When, on the eve of her 25th wedding anniversary, her handsome husband Jimmy does not come home, Mary wonders whether her size or her aversion to adventure chased him off. With few clues, Mary boards a plane for the first time in her life, venturing to California in search of her husband. What she discovers is as shocking as it is delightful: a new vibrant energy--and an entirely different kind of hunger.

In THE WIFE'S TALE, Lori Lansens brings us another riveting outsider perspective in a powerful story of craving and fulfillment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316069328
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/07/2011
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 803,709
Product dimensions: 5.62(w) x 8.12(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

Lori Lansens was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, a small Canadian town with a remarkable history and a collection of eccentric characters, which became the setting for her first two bestselling novels. Living with her family in southern California now, she could not resist the pull of her fictitious 'Baldoon County' when she set out to write The Wife's Tale. She took the journey, along with her main character, from Canada to the Pacific Coast of America, where she enjoys the sunshine, and has learned a thing or two about transformation.

Read an Excerpt

Mary knew what she had to do, and like that final shot of whiskey gunfighters slug back in westerns, she sought courage in Laura Secord.

Mary might have described tearing open the cardboard as something like rapture, enveloped as she was by the heavenly scent of cocoa, and lifted by a sense of well being. Breathing deeply, she peeled the cellophane from one box, and another and another, tossing aside the lids, digging at the confection, shoveling two and three at a time into her unhinged mandible. She didn’t care that chocolate squares were spilling onto the seats and floor as she swiped aside the fluted paper cups. That’s enough, Mary told herself, and then, Just one more.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

1. Mary Brody struggles with what she calls her “obeast.” What is her obeast? Beyond the obvious “subcutaneous duvet” she carries, how else does that struggle manifest itself in her life?

2. At one point, Mary admits to hating when she’s described as having a “pretty face.” Why?

3. Why do you believe Jimmy Gooch (Gooch) left his wife? More importantly, why does Mary break from the inertia she’s lived with for so long to leave and look for Gooch?

4. When Mary complains to her father that she must be a pessimist because she always sees the glass half-empty, her father replies, “Forget about the glass, Murray. Get a drink from the hose and push on” (p. 27). In what ways, if any, does Mary heed his advice?

5. Mary often attributes her weight gain to grief and loss. If that’s the case, why does she start to lose weight after Gooch is gone? Is her transformation permanent? What might happen to Mary if Gooch returns?

6. While walking on the beach with Jesus, Mary finally articulates out loud what she has known in her heart for some time – Gooch is not coming back. At what point does Mary move from waiting for Gooch to having a life without him? Why was she never angry with him for leaving her?

7. At Frankie’s hairdressing salon, a woman comments on Mary’s admission that Gooch has left her, saying “I don’t care what happened. Twenty-five years is worth fighting for” (p. 174). Do you agree in principle? Do you agree in Mary’s case?

8. At the points in her journey where she needs it most, Mary always finds someone waiting to help: Big Avi, Frankie, Eden, Emery Carr, Ronnie Reeves, Jesus Garcia. What accounts for her good fortune? Is Mary experiencing the kindness of strangers because she’s “looking up” from the ground for the first time in years?

9. How do these benevolent gestures from strangers tap into the giving side of Mary’s nature?

10. Can you think of an instance in your own life when someone or something arrived just when you needed it most?

11. Mary has an interesting and redemptive relationship with her mother-in-law. What is it that they need from each other and how do they find it?

12. What was your reaction to the end of Mary’s story? What do you believe is next for her?

Customer Reviews

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The Wife's Tale 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
poosie More than 1 year ago
The protagonist in Lori's new novel, Mary Gooch, who is middle-aged, morbidly obese, and depressed, will tug at your heartstrings. The reader is instantly swept into Mary's life and becomes concerned for her husband's whereabouts. It's their 25th anniversary and he hasn't come home. As she waits for him to come home she's thinking back over all the years before, during and after they were married. The adventure is about Mary's amazing trek to find her husband, and herself in the process. It's quite the roller-coaster ride and worth every moment you spend reading it!!
CymLowell More than 1 year ago
Imagine that you were left all alone one night. No spouse, no money, down on yourself, no children, no relatives active in your life, no future, and really no past except for the absent spouse. What would you do? Would you go down in flames? Or would you soar like a phoenix, reborn from the ashes of prior life? This is the story of Mary Gooch, an obese rural Canadian woman who declared that she would commit suicide if she weighed more than 300 pounds. With that figure in the rearview mirror, she continued to gain. The day before her 25th wedding anniversary, her husband disappeared. He left a note saying he had won the lottery and left her some money in the bank. Mary then embarked on the journey of her life. The Wife's Tale is a beautiful story, compelling told to the point that Mary becomes our hero. I was excited to follow her evolution, cheering for her at every step in the path. I celebrated her achievements and self-realizations. When she encountered adversity, or defeat, I hoped she would brush herself off and move forward, which she inevitably did. This is a story of self-determination at its finest. We should all seek to find ourselves. Mary does in her own way. I can only hope that I would be as strong as Mary. In the end, this is a story of self-fulfillment. Each of us is the master of our own destiny, reaping the harvest of what we sow. Mary sowed affection, generosity, and faith in the strangers that she met. She was rewarded with a new life. Perhaps, she was far better off in her new life than had the prior life continued. The Wife's Tale is also a spiritual guide. Though not a religious book as such, the life of Mary is a testament to the healing power of redemption. A new life born from the bold. I loved this book and so will you!
TheCrowdedLeaf More than 1 year ago
It was a wonderful feeling to say that I knew from the second page of this book that it would be good. Not having read Lansen's earlier novel, The Girls, I now feel envious of those who have, since talent like hers as shown in The Wife's Tale makes me believe all her writing must be wonderful. The Wife's Tale is a novel about Mary Gooch and her life. Her constant battle with food and her body, her ever-present hunger, her ghosts from the past reminding her of better times. Times when she was happy, and carefree, and skinny. It's about her secrets and her husband. Her husband of twenty-five years who she married when she was young and svelte and pregnant, before she gained the weight and lost the baby. Her husband who disappears the night before their anniversary, saying and doing nothing, just leaving. Leaving her with her secrets and hunger until the day she wakes and realizes she doesn't need food. She wakes from her life and chooses to take a step in a new direction, to embark on a journey. To become someone other than the woman who only wears dark navy scrubs, the woman from Leaford who is incredibly obese. To be the woman who solves her own problems. In the journey she takes to find her husband, she finds herself: the Mary without the food. This story was heartbreaking and sad, but also incredibly beautiful and lyrical and literary and uplifting. Lansen weaves Mary's memories into the story which help us to understand her pain, weight issues are something to which most of us can relate. Brutally honest and blunt, occasionally fresh and funny, but always true and real from the perspective of an overweight women who feels helpless, this was a touching message of hope and the power of change and strength in us all. I loved Mary Gooch. I loved her for being honest with me about who she was and the secrets she has. The chocolates, the binges, the tabloids, the obsession. And I loved her for making a choice, for leaving Leaford, for going after her husband, and then changing direction on the way. For following her father's old advice to "take a drink from the hose and push on." 5 stars (I received this book from the Hachette Book Group)
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
When we travel the hills and valleys of our lives we face those times where we stand at a crossroads and the reality of past challenges butt up against future hopes and expectations. There are moments we decide to go one way or another and once the decision is made our lives are irreversibly altered. During some of these moments dreams can be shattered and hearts broken especially when the results of certain decisions are made for us by others we love and trust that it seems we did not know at all. But when the dust settles are we left heartbroken or maybe heart hopeful. Mary Gooch is standing at that crossroads in her life when her husband on the eve of their 25 anniversary decides to park his delivery van after winning the lottery and leave her to go "find himself". Mary had been Jimmy Gooch's wife since she was 18 years old and has no idea who or what she is if not this person who lives in a small Canadian town going through the motions of day-to-day existence with him. Well that is not completely true because Mary also knows that she is an obese woman who has battled a hunger her entire life that only food could fulfill. Food was her friend when she was lonely, her ally in getting through stress and the one solace that made her feel like she had a purpose in her life. But when her husband disappears she has to move out of the comfort of her relationship with food and find a new way to satisfy the feeling of emptiness this situation has created. Mary questions whether she capable of doing anything alone but decides that regardless of her size, shape or fear of the unknown she has to find her husband regardless of where he has gone. But when Mary goes in search of her husband and she gets on a plane for the first time in her life figuring out how to fit into the airplane seat is the least of her problems. Her overweight status causes her to battle fatigue, her gentle nature sets her up to be taken advantage of and her fear of change pushes her to a new starvation that even food cannot satisfy. Mary challenges herself to show that she is more than a number on a scale or a sheltered wife. She proves that she is a capable woman regardless of where Gooch may be hiding. Her mother-in-law once an enemy becomes an ally, strangers becomes friends and new situations become invigorating instead of overwhelming. Mary may have lost her identity when her husband left and possibly her money when her purse goes missing but it turns out that neither of those things defined her and once she starts knocking on doors and tearing down walls she finds out that she is not that person on her passport. Sometimes you have to leave dreams behind to find a reality that is better than anything you thought of imagined. What an amazing person Mary Gooch is regardless that she has a weight issue but because of it. She is indicative of every one of us as we all have some demon that chases us, some fear we pretend doesn't exist and issues we try to ignore. But when Mary looks in the mirror she doesn't see her full figure but instead she sees her beautiful, warm and glowing personality that has been hidden not behind the weight but behind her fear of showing the world how beautiful she really is. No one can teach you this or show you how to love yourself but once you do there is not stopping whatever goal you set for yourself - they are achievable simply by being yours. Mary Gramlich ~ ("The Reading Reviewer") ~ www.marygramlic
MRSREVDR More than 1 year ago
This was a book hard to put down, the story and the plot, twisted and turned in ways that kept deepening the characters and my connection to them. It is great fiction and the message on how a person can reconnect to themselves and reclaim their identity is anything but fiction. So it is the best of both!!!!!
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
On the eve of their Silver Anniversary, Mary Gooch is waiting for her husband Jimmy--still every inch the handsome star athlete he was in high school--to come home. As night turns to day, it becomes frighteningly clear to Mary that he is gone. Through the years, disappointment and worry have brought Mary's life to a standstill, and she has let her universe shrink to the well-worn path from the bedroom to the refrigerator. But her husband's disappearance startles her out of her inertia, and she begins a desperate search. For the first time in her life, she boards a plane and flies across the country to find her lost husband. So used to hiding from the world, Mary finds that in the bright sun and broad vistas of California, she is forced to look up from the pavement. And what she finds fills her with inner strength she's never felt before. Through it all, Mary not only finds kindred spirits, but reunites with a more intimate stranger no longer sequestered by fear and habit: herself. I had the wonderful opportunity to receive this book compliments of Hachette Book Groups to review. I was hooked from the turning of the first page. You live you life with Mary as she struggles to understand the complexity of what she has done to her life and how she is going to move forward. Not knowing if her husband, who she refers to as the Gooch, is going to come home, Mary has some tough decisions that she must begin to make one step at a time. If you would like to know more about the book and where to purchase a copy, please click on the link below.
jingobook More than 1 year ago
If anyone wants to read a beautifully written book on a womman's journey to self discovery, this is a book to read. It starts off with Mary Gooch who is a very unhappy and Isolating woman. Mary suffered from a weight problem most of her life and uses food for her source of comfort and to stuff her feelings of so many years of rejection. She has been married for 25 years to a man who on there 25th anniversary decides to up and leave with no clue to his whereabouts. In her desperate search to find him, she starts to explore all the good as well as the bad that the world has to offer outside her small town in Canada. In her journey without her even trying she starts to shed pounds,and starts to realize more about herself as she searches for her dissapearing husband. Reading the pages of this book I saw myself in so many ways. Her thoughts, her actions, and her desperate need to feel connected will inspire many.
MamaLlamaCR More than 1 year ago
Mary's life takes her from her small hometown to sunny California. Her very first time on a plane Mary braves her fear and soliders on. In the course of searching for Jimmy, her awall husband, Mary comes to care for her hostile mother-in-law. Along the way Mary meets many kind hearted strangers who are all part of helping Mary become the woman she has buried deep inside for so many years. One special person makes Mary feel like a woman once again and awakens her long dormant self. Lori Lansens touches on things that all woman would can to relate too. A wonderful read, that is very hard to put down.
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
On the eve of their 25 year anniversary, Mary Gooch's husband leaves for work and never comes home. Weighing in at 302 pounds, she finds herself suddenly alone and clueless as to what to do next. The one thing she knows for sure is that she needs to find her husband and bring him home. And so she sets out with a few clues to find him. But what she finds instead is the little bit of herself that she was missing. THE WIFE'S TALE is slightly slow to start, but once Mary has momentum, the book will carry you along with a will of it's own. It is uplifting to read about Mary's adventure and the extremely trusting and nice people she meets along the way. Lansens writes with flowing prose and soft tones that make for a very enjoyable read. I wanted Mary's story to continue for another 200 pages!
MrsO More than 1 year ago
I loved Mary Gooch and hope we hear more about her.  t was difficult to put the book down because I was so concerned for her and all of her ups and downs.  A very quick read.  This is my kind of book, full of charming characters and relationships that are believable.  Wonderful.
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Agree with previous reviews- we get it, she's fat snd an emotional eater. Author should have cut some of that out and actually wrote an ending. I was finally really into it and it just stopped. Aggravating!
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Kerri Guest More than 1 year ago
Another great read by Lori Lansens!
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bkind2allKW More than 1 year ago
Great book, interesting writing style and unusual dialog. Wish it was a little longer to more smoothly bring the story to its conclusion. Would read this author again.
KER40 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the characters and finally started cheering for Mary and couldn't wait to read the outcome and then......It just ended. I was VERY upset with the ending.
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