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Wife 22: A Novel by Melanie Gideon

Wife 22: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Melanie Gideon

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4348924,268 (3.54)10
Title:Wife 22: A Novel
Authors:Melanie Gideon
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading, audio
Tags:fiction, contemporary fiction, marriage, relationships, family, midlife, motherhood, california, facebook, friendship, read in 2012

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Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

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I love unconventional story telling, and this book does that with the plot unfolding through modern means of communications, emails and facebooks posts, along with a traditional narrative. The story is set within a marriage, with our narrator, Alice, and her husband stuck smack dab in the middle of their mid-life crises. They are going through all the familiar things that those of us in our 40's and 50's can relate to, boredom with our relationships and jobs, worrying about our children as they transition from children to adults, and looking for a bit of excitement and change in our lives.

This book is sweet and very funny, and is a bit like a rom-com script and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. Gideon has created some memorable characters with her writing skills and I only wish that I could continue to being a voyeur into their lives a bit longer. ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
Alice Buckle is discovering that marriage looks different after the age of forty. Her relationship with her husband used to be very close, very sexual, and very strong. But with two teenagers and mounting financial concerns, they are living more like roommates. She feels distant, disconnected, and lonely. Perhaps it is this desperation that causes her to sign up for a marriage survey. But talking about the details of her relationship unearths long dormant feelings. Is she happy with her life choices? Is there anything she can do to change them?

Not terrible, but not good. The surprise "twist" ending was obvious almost from the first chapter which made it's tedious unwinding drag and drag. Alice is volatile and oddly childlike. I found it hard to sympathize with her. Her behavior is it times incomprehensible to the point that it suggests some sort of low-level psychosis. Just days before their wedding, her husband makes a comment she finds to be "too cold" so without hesitation she pitches her dead mother's engagement ring out the window of a moving car. Then she blames her husband for it's loss. Later when her husband gets demoted, she calls the woman who replaced him and begs her to "do something" to make the move less damaging. It was cringe-inducing.

But perhaps her least sympathetic behavior is when her husband takes her and the family out to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. She wasn't expecting a gift as they are in rough financial straights, but when he presents her with one she is disappointed that it's not expensive jewelry. Alas, it's only an expensive piece of technology. It's nice, but it's not exactly what she wanted. So she pouts. Like a baby would. Meanwhile, she gets her husband NOTHING AT ALL and doesn't seem to notice the hypocrisy. Gross. ( )
  Juva | Jan 27, 2016 |
Not bad, but the ending wasn’t particularly difficult to guess. ( )
  miyurose | Sep 3, 2015 |
Alice Buckle is a forty-something mother of two who feels her children do not need her as much, her husband is a little boring, her job is frustrating and not what she envisioned herself doing and all her friend’s lives seem so much more exciting than her own. At a cocktail party at her husband’s work she overhears his colleagues discussing a little competition they have going on … who has the most hits when they Google their own names. She goes home that evening and tries it – nothing! Feeling depressed about her own impact on the world she moves to check her email and finds an interesting email in her “spam” folder, an invitation to join an on-line survey about marriage. She checks out the credentials of the organization doing the survey and agrees to participate. Through this survey the reader learns about her life and how she got to this point. Alice herself finds she is discovering some long lost emotions and some new ones. Unfortunately, the new emotions mostly have to do with her communications with the researcher analysing her answers.

Despite the fact that at times throughout the book I found Alice a little bit on the annoying side, it was a fun read. Definitely chick-lit for the over 40 crowd.
( )
1 vote ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
I really liked it! It was very cute and funny, and since the protagonist is only a few years younger than me, I could identify with the whole mid-life, empty-nester, just-the-two-of-us-again storyline. I figured out the ending about halfway through, but still a really enjoyable read. ( )
  darcy36 | Jul 8, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034552795X, Hardcover)

Q&A with Author Melanie Gideon

Q: Your previous work was your critically acclaimed memoir. What inspired you to turn to fiction, and where did the idea for Wife 22 originate?

A: I was sitting in a bar with a friend. We were well into our second glass of wine, when, in researcher mode, I started asking her questions about her marriage. After she invoked a zone of confidentiality I was amazed at how forthright she was willing to be about everything: love, sex, aging, security, happiness, and parenting. That's when I knew I was on to something. What if an ordinary wife and mother had the opportunity (and most importantly, the anonymity) to admit what she really thought, felt, wished for and dreamed, regretted and longed for in her life and marriage? Thus Wife 22 was born.

Q: Who do you think will connect with this novel, and why? Who is Wife 22?

A: I believe there's a little bit of Wife 22 in all of us, no matter what age, no matter what stage of a relationship you're in: married, single or, "it's complicated!" It's so easy to get stuck in a routine and so hard to get yourself out of it. I think we all yearn to be woken up.

Q: Do you see any similarities between yourself and your heroine, Alice Buckle? Any differences?

A: Well, like Alice, I am about to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband. Unlike Alice, however, I did not receive an email soliciting me to participate in an anonymous online survey on marital satisfaction. And if I did, I would immediately dump it into my trash folder, because I know, after writing this book, how seductive and dangerous the act of confession can be. There are little bits of me in Alice, sure, but Alice is definitely her own person. Also she's nicer than me. And much more fluent with social media.

Q: You pay homage to Joseph Heller and Catch 22 with the title and with a few circumstances Alice faces during the course of your novel. Can you shed a little light on how that came to be and what it signifies?

A: I think marriage is a sort of Catch 22. 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.

Q: Many of the novel's characters, especially Alice, engage in social media like Facebook and Twitter. How do you think these methods of communication have changed our lives and the relationships we have with others? How have they changed yours?

A: I resisted Facebook and Twitter for a long time, and I confess I still find it challenging to post, tweet or blog. I get incredible stage fright trying to think of something clever to say. People will see it--or worse--ignore it. What if nobody "likes" it? What if nobody comments? It's like middle school every day! Part of what I wanted to explore in Wife 22 was whether social media brought us closer together or pushed us farther apart. I think it does both. I long for the old days when my husband and son and I would watch a TV show together. I mean really watch it, without our attention constantly flickering to the device on our laps. Watching TV in my household is not a passive act. We're always talking back to the TV, commenting, laughing: that's ridiculous, who told her she could sing? On the other hand I learn things about my husband every day through Facebook. New things. What he's thinking, what he's reading, what he's doing. Facebook allows us to be strangers to one another, to be voyeurs, but in a safe way. There's something about that distance that's titillating.

Q: You've said, "Confession is a powerful aphrodisiac." Can you elaborate?

A: Anonymous confession? The chance to tell the absolute truth to a stranger? A stranger who doesn't judge, who listens intently, who asks all the right questions? That's very sexy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:40 -0400)

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Baring her soul in an anonymous survey for a marital happiness study, Alice catalogues her stale marriage, unsatisfying job and unfavorable prospects and begins to question virtually every aspect of her life.

(summary from another edition)

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