Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Today: Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

The homage to Joseph Heller in the title of Melanie Gideon’s debut novel is not an accident. “I think marriage is a sort of Catch 22,” Gideon said in a recent interview. “It’s strange how some of the little quirks and eccentricities of your mate that you found so charming in the beginning -- that may have even contributed to you falling in love with them -- 20 years later are the things that drive you absolutely crazy.”

Imagine Bridget Jones a couple of decades on and the “happily ever after” has turned into “another day of this?” and that will get you pretty close to the basic headspace in Wife 22 (Ballantine).

Twenty-two years into her marriage and Alice Buckle’s life is unravelling. Her marriage is dying, her kids don’t need her much anymore and her job doesn’t do anything to fill the holes in her heart.

A marriage survey Alice finds and in her spam folder ultimately leads her on a path of self-evaluation she could never have anticipated. She is “Wife 22” in the study and she knows her caseworker only as “Researcher 101” but through a serious of carefully posed, insightful questions, Alice begins to see herself and her life in a new light… and the light isn’t always good.

Gideon is the author of The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily After, fingered as a book of the year by both NPR and the San Francisco Chronicle. Wife 22 seems like the perfect fictional companion to that book and why not? Following a memoir that did as well as that one with a quirky feel-good coming-to-middle-age story seems almost like natural progression. I would not be at all surprised if Wife 22 (Ballantine) were to become on of the big books of the summer of 2012. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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Anonymous Eesti said...

How do we keep love and romance alive over time? How do we reconnect with loved ones from whom we've grown distant? How do we balance our kids, our jobs and our sex lives? These are Alice's personal dilemmas, ones with which I imagine many readers can relate. Melanie Gideon's prose is witty, her sense of humor self-deprecating but never cruel - I highly recommend this book as a fun and engaging summer read.

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 3:07:00 AM PDT  

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