Author: Melanie Gideon
Published: Ballantine Books; May 2012
Genre: Women's fiction
Synopsis: Maybe it was those extra five pounds I’d gained. Maybe it was because I
was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it
was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I
seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.
when the anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century”
showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my
life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22)
and a caseworker (Researcher 101).
And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.
As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.
My Take: In a normal year I love novels that analyze and dissect marriages. It makes me feel like a voyeur, but more than that, I feel like it also helps me understand them more. Well this year, in the lead up to my own marriage, I find that I am devouring novels that surround marriage more than ever. My latest read, Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon was absolutely fascinating on so many levels and I am so glad I read it.
Wife 22 centers around the marriage of Alice and William Buckle. They have been married for 20 years and have two teenage children. Living in Oakland, CA (Bay Area representing!) their marriage seems to be stuck in a malaise. Alice feels like this year in particular needs some shaking up. She has reached the same age as her mother was when she passed away and so I think she realises that if there is a reason to keep living this life, then she needs it to be proven to her so she is pushing against all of those around her.
Alice could be considered a technology junkie. She is on Facebook and email all the time. One day, in her spam folder, she sees an email for a marriage survey and decides to click on it. Investigating the foundation which it is through, she figures it is legit and decides to participate. Alice is assigned a researcher to guide her through the survey, Researcher 101, and she is assigned an acronym for anonymity, Wife 22, and the survey begins.
As the book unfolds, the chapters differentiate between typical book dialogue as we learn about the life of Alice and her family and friends, to Alice's online chatter, to the survey questions she answers. The questions she is asked are in the back of the book, by the way. This personally was the only thing I didn't like. I wanted to know both the questions and the answers and had I not read a review by someone else tipping me off to the fact that the questions were in the back I would have had no idea and I felt that the questions naturally enhanced the nature of her answers. They ranged from how her and her husband met, to writing a letter to your children saying all of the things you can't say to them right now.
As she is letting go of all of these intense emotions about her husband she realizes that her relationship with him in its present state isn't what it once was and she starts to wonder if it can ever get back to it. She also realises that her relationship with Researcher 101 has grown into something more than she has ever expected, even though she has never met him. And that is the crux of the story. This analyzation of a modern marriage and what exactly is cheating totally fascinated me and I would highly recommend it to anyone else who finds this topic at all interesting too. I also thing it would be a great book club read too with so many emotions brought up!
Cover Lust: I get that the daisy is the classic, he loves me, he loves me not flower, but I am not that enamored with this cover.
Thanks to the publisher, I have two copies to give away to two lucky winners! The deadline for this giveaway is June 12th; entries open to those in the US.
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3 extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST June 12th. I will draw the winners using random.org and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!