Have you ever had one of those moments when you just can't get something off your mind? I was just upstairs in my studio creating some art for this art stroll that I signed up for and in my head starts dancing this little negative distraction... and next thing you know I'm obsessing about this particular negative distraction! Completely side-tracked, but before the thought process is allowed to wreck my mood, I am reminded about this book, The Wife by Meg Wolitzer.
And because I have nothing to say about the negative distraction that is nice, I will just inundate you with yet another book!
This one I read several months ago and it is quite simply a gem!
The Wife is a great little book about marriage, motherhood, sacrifices and writing.
What I loved the most is that it gave some perspective on writing - specifically women and writing - especially because (get this) I'm a woman! And? I'm a writer!
The story begins with Joan Castleman deciding to leave her famous novelist husband, Joseph Castleman, as they are in the midst of a flight to Helsinki where Joe is about to be awarded a major international literary prize. The reasons as to why she has finally chosen to do so are fleshed out in flashbacks on how they met, their marriage, their careers and their children.
When Joan meets Joe, she herself has dreams of writing. However, coming of age at Smith College in the late 1950s (a setting similar to that of Mona Lisa Smile) and then working at a publishing house, she's quick to learn how male-dominated the world of writing is. And as a result, she ends up spending many of her years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career. Forty years later, she has had enough.
To make things even more interesting, they have a secret.
A dirty little secret.
A BIG FAT JUICY GINORMOUS LITTLE SECRET!
And though you quick thinkers might be able to guess the secret early on, Wolitzer does not disappoint - her craft in story design is spot-on!
Here are a few of my favorite quotes...
on the difference of men & women: “Joe told me he felt a little sorry for women, who only got husbands. Husbands tried to help by giving answers, being logical, stubbornly applying force as though it were a glue gun. Or else they didn’t try to help at all, for they were somewhere else entirely, out walking in the world by themselves. But wives, oh wives, when they weren’t being bitter or melancholy or counting the beads on their abacus of disappointment, they could take care of you with delicate and effortless ease.”
on marriage: “I hadn’t asked him the question out of actual concern; it was more of a marital reflex. All over the world, husbands and wives routinely and somewhat pointlessly ask one another: Are you okay? It’s part of the contract; it’s the thing to do, because it implies that you care, that you’re paying attention, when in fact you might be deeply and relentlessly bored.”
on a woman's sacrifice: “Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib in the middle of the night, on the way to the Stop & Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children will ride serenely through life. … Everyone needs a wife, even wives need wives.”
The Wife is fantastic & quick. Perfect for your next in-flight read or as you drink cocktails by the pool... or in between chasing your kiddos around the park. A definite must read.
***SPOILER ALERT. KINDA.***
talk to you about ‸go off on a tangent about the Castleman's big fat juicy ginormous little secret?
First of all, writing, in general, is not for anyone without thick skin and an unshakeable belief in one's ability. As bloggers, you and I both know this. We put our selves out there every day. We make ourselves vulnerable. But we remain authentic.
We are real. We have no wing-man who looks over our shoulders and guides our every move; no secret ghost writer who edits and re-writes our posts to fuel the flames of our aspirations. We do it on our own.
This dirty little secret of theirs totally reminds me of the old phrase, "behind every great man there's an even greater woman."
Have you read the book? What do you think?