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The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
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The Stepford Wives (1972)

by Ira Levin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,293684,175 (3.58)147
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English (65)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
I don't think the book was bad but I made the mistake to read to foreword and... it spoiled the plot and all the pleasure of reading the book to me. So while the story is interesting and thought provoking, just don't read any foreword, introduction or so on before getting on with the story. ( )
  Sept | May 21, 2019 |
This novel has entered pop culture so seamlessly it was strange to read the source material. As some reviewers have acknowledged, there isn't a whole lot to the book, Levin didn't feel the need to elaborate on the hows and whys of Stepford's transformation. That is probably one of the chillier aspects for me. Joanna has nothing more than a vague suspicion that something is wrong until near the end. Its laughable until its too late for her to escape.

Levin's work succeeds on the tiny premise, the doubt in all of us, that there must be something inhuman behind perfect facades. The book could have been longer than it is and it could have improved by more of Joanna's thoughts and the big picture of her months in Stepford. Levin was capable at least once of a character study in creeping horror (Rosemary's Baby), but I'll admit the book is just fine without it. Its quick, it was scary, and knowing the end didn't change the dread I felt at the end of the penultimate chapter.

It's an artifact, enjoy. ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
→ What I Liked:

The Characters
This is a rare instance in which the female characters seem to be more developed than the male characters, and I loved it. They had so much individuality (aside from the Stepford wives of course), whereas the men were defined more by their jobs than anything else. One of the women was even implied to be asexual!

The Writing
While simplistic in style, the way the story was written was just fantastic. It started off relatively innocuous (even knowing what the ending would be), but built to an incredible climax full of anxiety. He pulls off a similar climb in Rosemary’s Baby, which I also really enjoyed.

→ What I Didn’t Like:

The Foreword
To be fair, this was added later to the book and was not written by Ira Levin. The fact remains, however, that Peter Straub’s introduction was painfully condescending. He went on and on about how the average reader wouldn’t be able to properly appreciate Levin’s writing and how subtle and literary it is. I can appreciate him wanting to explain the nuances of this simplistic writing style, but the way he did it just really rubbed me the wrong way.

The Ending
While I understand to a certain extent why the ending felt so abrupt, I wish it hadn’t. I felt pretty unsatisfied by it, even though I “get” it. Maybe Peter Straub was right and I just can’t properly appreciate it. ;)

→ TL;DR:
~Well-developed female characters
~Great pacing
~Pretentious foreword (not written by the author)
~Abrupt ending ( )
1 vote samesfoley | Jan 3, 2019 |
This isn't the sort of thing that I usually read. I'd seen the film, of course, and scant books often make good films. I picked up a copy in a remaindered bookshop for 50 pence and now I'm glad that I did.

An idea that I come back to time and again in my reading is that the perfect novel cannot exist. A book like 'The Stepford Wives', which uses the architecture of a suspense novel, is unlikely also to be strong on description or character. If it were, the suspense would probably be lost. But what it lacks in these aspects, it more than compensates for in the strength of the idea, its general air of creepiness and the skill with which Levin unfolds its plot.

And then there's the prose. It's written in that 1970s, post-Hemingway, pared-down style that became so ubiquitous. It reminded me of Luke Rhinehart. It's not remotely poetic but it moves the story forward in an efficient manner.

Is this a warning about the alienation that feminism might induce? Is it a satire on the infantile nature of modern masculinity? Is it an indictment of suburban existence? Who can say. Whatever else it might be, though, it's also a couple of hours well spent. ( )
1 vote PZR | Jul 28, 2018 |
Hated the fact that I have the "movie-edition" cover because the book and the re-done movie are not the same. ( )
  SMBrick | Feb 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ira Levinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Straub, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velsen, A. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Today the combat takes a different shape; instead of wishing to put man in prison, woman endeavors to escape from one; she no longer seeks to drag him into the realms of immanence but to emerge, herself, into the light of transcendence. Now the attitude of the males creates a new conflict: it is with a bad grace that the man lets her go.

—Simone de Beauvoir
The Second Sex
Dedication
To Ellie and Joe Busman
First words
The Welcome Wagon lady, sixty if she was a day but working at youth and vivacity (ginger hair, red lips, a sunshine-yellow dress), twinkled her eyes and teeth at Joanna and said, "You're really going to like it here! It's a nice town with nice people! You couldn't have made a better choice!"
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Book description
blurb: For Joanna, her husband Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town’s idyllic façade lies a terrible secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will never be the same.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060080841, Paperback)

The internationally bestselling novel by the author of A Kiss Before Dying, The Boys from Brazil, and Rosemary's Baby

With an Introduction by Peter Straub

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town's idyllic facade lies a terrible secret -- a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.

At once a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a savage commentary on a media-driven society that values the pursuit of youth and beauty at all costs, The Stepford Wives is a novel so frightening in its final implications that the title itself has earned a place in the American lexicon.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"For Joanne, her husband Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town's idyllic facade lies a terrible secret a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same." -- Back cover.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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