Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This Week's Read: The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

Chapter One 
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. Just like our marriage, I could have said, but why ruin everything now? Here we were in first-class splendor, tentatively separated from anxiety; there was no turbulence and the sky was bright, and somewhere among us, possibly, sat an air marshall in dull traveler's disguise, perhaps picking at a little dish of oily nuts or captivated by the zombie prose of the in-flight magazine. Drinks had already been served before takeoff, and we were both frankly bombed, our mouths half open, our heads tipped back. Women in uniform carried baskets up and down the aisles like a sexualized fleet of Red Riding Hoods.
The Wife
by Meg Wolitzer

Wow. That opening stopped me dead in my tracks. This is my third Meg Wolitzer novel of the year  and my respect for her talent continues to grow. This is a short novel (224 pages) and I'm reading it now before the film, staring Glenn Close, is released next month.

After quoting the first portion of the passage above, the goodreads summary continues:
So opens Meg Wolitzer's compelling and provocative novel The Wife, as Joan Castleman sits beside her husband on their flight to Helsinki. Joan's husband, Joseph Castleman, is "one of those men who own the world...who has no idea how to take care of himself or anyone else, and who derives much of his style from the Dylan Thomas Handbook of Personal Hygiene and Etiquette." He is also one of America's preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award to honor his accomplishments, 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, Wolitzer flashes back fifty years to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village -- the beginning of the Castleman relationship -- and follows the course of the famous marriage that has brought them to this breaking point, culminating in a shocking ending that outs a carefully kept secret. 
Wolitzer's most important and ambitious book to date, The Wife is a wise, sharp-eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she's made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it's also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man's world.
What do you think? Are you tempted to continue?


First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intro is now hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach.
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33 comments:

  1. Oh boy does this sound good and, I had no idea there is a movie in the works. Thanks for sharing. Here's my pick to the week -http://bibliophilebythesea.blogspot.com/2018/07/first-chapter-first-paragraph-tuesday_17.html

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    1. Diane - I think Arti (Ripple Effects) tipped me off about the movie. The book is very good so far.

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  2. I'm intrigued! I like stories about marriages.

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  3. Oh my gosh - this is one of my all-time favorite books and my favorite Wolitzer! There's a gazillion more passages as good as that one the whole way through!

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    1. Sarah - You're right! After that opening paragraph (which I had to reread several times before continuing) I've paused over quite a few more passages... and I'm still in the first chapter!

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  4. Sounds really good. See what we are featuring at Girl Who Reads

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    1. Donna - Wolitzer is a great writer!

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  5. I read this one a while ago, and LOVED it, just as I have every book by this author so far. I'm very excited about the upcoming movie...love Glenn Close. Thanks for sharing...and enjoy! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I think Glenn Close is an excellent choice for Joan Castleman! This is my third Wolitzer novel this year, and there may be more.

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  6. That's one of the best openings I've read in a long time. I really must get this book.

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    1. Catherine - That's exactly what I thought!

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  7. I'd be tempted, especially as there's a film coming out based on it :)

    Here is my Teaser for Tuesday. Have a great day!

    Luv, Sassy x

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    1. Sassy Brit - I always prefer to read the book before seeing the film.

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  8. I deleted my comment because I thought it would delete on its own...And it didn’t but I had only written the word I...now this comment did delete after two sentences! So I am cautiously waiting! I went into Goodreads to check to see if I read your Wife and I didn’t...I read a different Wife plus tons of other books that contain the word Wife in the titles! But your Wife does sound really good and I want to read it. Whew!

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    1. Patty - Blogger is giving you SUCH a hard time... I'm so sorry. This book seems kind of dark so far, bit so well-written!

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  9. I agree that the opening kind of grips you - what an unpleasant view of 'first class' - LOL! I've been meaning to read this author's books and I'm enjoying hearing about your experiences with them. One day before long - maybe. Ha!

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    1. Kay - Not sure I'd want to be in that particular first class cabin, lol! I'm enjoying working my way through Wolitzer's novels.

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  10. I didn't realize they're making this into a movie.

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    1. Kathy - Yes, another reason to read the book now!

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  11. I have this on audio and hope to read it soon, before the movie comes out.

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    1. Vicki - Hope the audio is just as good as the print version!

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  12. That opening is definitely eye catching.

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    1. Yvonne - It's the best opening I've read in quite some time!

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  13. Oh yes. I definitely want to read the book after reading that opening.

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  14. Wowzer. What an opening! I might have to try this on audio. Off to see who reads the book... Thanks for the rec!

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    1. Les - Wowser is right! I checked for the audio at the library after Vicki mentioned it above. Found it available for instant download via hoopla, so now it's a read/listen combo for me. The narrator's tone is just perfect!

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  15. This was already on my list ... and LOVE that opening.

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    1. Beth F - So do I... especially that last phrase!!

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  16. I'm definitely tempted. That was a great opening.

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    1. Carol - I'm almost halfway through now and enjoying it very much. The writing is wonderful!

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  17. I've been wanting to read this forever and now that the movie is coming out it has inspired me to actually get the book from the library. I'm on the wait list and hopefully it won't be too long.

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    1. Karen K. - I hope you've received the book by now... it was excellent!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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