The Wife, by Meg Wolitzer, brings the reader along on a journey with Joan Castleman, supportive wife to writer husband Joe Castleman.
They meet in the fifties at Smith College, where Joan is a student and Joe, her professor. She almost immediately falls for him, with his professorial qualities and his interest in her as a potential writer. He is married, of course, with a newborn baby. Joan agrees to babysit one night, but spends most of her time there fantasizing about being with him.
And then, almost as if her fantasies have transported her into an alternate universe, the two of them are having an affair. When the wife finds out, they take off for New York, where Joe begins his writing career.
Joan is always at his side, supporting him and looking the other way when he cheats (once a cheater, always a cheater!).
The story actually begins for us on a flight to Helsinki, where Joe will be awarded a prestigious prize. And up in the air, with no place to run, Joan decides that she has had enough of subjugating herself to her husband’s needs. After all, she had her own talents…once upon a time.
Throughout the flight and in the days that follow, Joan’s mind journeys back in time, remembering…and then, just at the end, a big secret surfaces. Something that would surely change everything.
I was captivated by this story. At first, I was all set for it to be one of those predictable tales of marriage gone sour. Was I ever surprised, especially at the unexpected twist at the end. I didn’t see that one coming, although looking back…oh, well.
I’ve enjoyed several other books by this author, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that this one, too, earned five stars from me.